How does your garden grow?

Hornworms.

I found hornworms today. I managed to find 5 of them, I hope that’s all there were. It’s a very small garden. They decimated one of my cayenne plants, stripping virtually all the leaves. I have no idea if it’ll survive. They ate the only #$@$#@ bell pepper that was actually growing in the entire freaking garden.

The other joys of this gardening experience have included, in no particular order:

Slugs.
Grasshoppers.
Tomato blight.
Root rot.
Powdery mildew.
Weather that leaps from too hot for the fruit to ripen, to massive rain storms that flood the garden (hence the blight, rot, and mildew).

I don’t even know what else, there’re some other problems going on but they aren’t as devastating so I don’t care that much.

If I actually manage to get any fruit out of this, it’ll be a miracle.

Some of it is bad luck. Some of it is inexperience. It doesn’t help that I’m trying to keep this reasonably organic and I don’t want any overly harsh chemicals near my toddler (at this point- I’m not expecting to get any food, so I’m not worried about chemicals near my food) and the garden is right next to his outdoor play area. But overall, I’m having a really hard time deciding if it’s going to be worth ever trying to do this again. I’m about to give up. My most successful plant has just been destroyed quite literally overnight.

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Too Many Toys Overstimulate a Child

I’ve heard this phrase. I was aware of it. I figured we had mostly gotten around it. Our floor is usually dotted with various stuffed animals, books, and occasionally an activity or two (those usually get put away)- but we never imagined that was “too many”.

We had already emptied his room of all but two stuffed animals. 90% of his toys are in his closet, out of sight and out of mind. We’ll take out an activity or two for him to play with periodically. He doesn’t get to choose himself- usually he can’t handle the choice and will melt down.

Over the last two days, we’ve had to completely pick up our house and rearrange things a few times to deep clean the carpets. All of those stuffed animals on the floor are now in a box in his room.

He’s doing better. Even while it was in progress, he suddenly got into a much better mood. I expected him to get upset by the upheaval. Instead, he calmed down. At one point, he found his way behind the couches to where a few of his toys were. I sighed and said, not expecting anything to come of it, “You can pick one more toy, but then you have to get out of there”.

He did it.

I stared in disbelief. I told my partner. We tried it again at bedtime, when he ran for the toys again- “You can take one toy to bed with you”. He chose the random handle that’s been floating around and happily ran to his bed.

Too many toys overstimulates a child.

(And our child is particularly prone to overstimulation.)

We honestly didn’t imagine that what we had out could’ve been “Too Many”. For one thing, he generally ignored them. He wasn’t constantly trying to play with them all and freaking out, or constantly running between them. Periodically, he’d pick one up and play with it, or we’d use them in games with him. It didn’t really seem like he was having problems from too many toys being around, and it didn’t really seem like having a couple (okay, so, about 30 altogether) stuffed animals and figurines around could be that big a deal.

Apparently we were wrong.

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21 Day Belly Fix, Day 1: Why the heck do people do this?

I found out about the 21 Day Belly Fix recently. I got the book from the library, showed it to my partner, and we both said “Okay, let’s start it next week”. And we did! Given that I’ve spent an entire year trying to go on GAPS, this diet does sound, on paper, like it’ll mesh much better with us.

It’s similar to GAPS, only faster and opposite. GAPS cuts out fiber and focuses on bone broth from the start. 21 Day fix cuts out everything but fiber (slight exaggeration) and introduces bone broth about a week into it. It really depends on how you feel about fiber.

First day- I actually feel worse than if I’d just fasted. I feel dizzy and tired, as if I hadn’t eaten all day, even though I’ve eaten to the point of being full three times. Which is fairly interesting.

I’m very glad this is a quick diet. It adds more foods in quickly, so I’m not as worried about doing long-term damage and sticking with it isn’t as daunting.

Why do people do this? It’s something I can’t help but wonder- but I know the answer. It’s the reason I’m doing it. It’s the reason my partner’s doing it. It’s the reason I hope my kids will never, ever, ever have to do this.

Because I’ve had enough pain for long enough that I’m willing to take extreme measures. The possibility of relief is worth enduring this.

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“I’m never going to be good enough for you, am I?”

This line is the turning point of the movie Legally Blonde. Elle Woods busted her ass to get into Harvard, and the man she loves continues to treat her like an airhead. From that point on, she stops wasting time trying to win him back and tells him where to stuff it when he tries to get back together with her later on.

I had that moment with my mother recently. I got a job that is actually pretty decent. It’s got a flexible schedule and I can make over $3k/month with it doing things that I actually enjoy doing. It could let me develop my career as an artist without having to live in poverty. I told my mom, told her that I finally got to quit the soul-crushing retail job, and she went on about how she’ll work with me on more job applications and “When you go to graduate school…”.

That’s when it hit me. I will never be good enough for my mother.

It was strange to realize. I think everyone craves their parent’s approval on some level, I’m not sure if that sense ever fully goes away. While I’m not actively trying to please my parents, I think I always expected that if I reached the point where I was supporting my family and doing what made me happy- they’d be happy for me.

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Another Narrative

Increasing people are aware of transgender people. More parents are aware that one day their son may turn around and say “Actually, I’m a girl”. And that’s great. Most people are familiar with this narrative:

Susan finally gets up the courage to tell ‘her’ parents that ‘she’ actually identifies as male. From now on, he wants male pronouns used, to be called Adam, and wants to begin transitioning. At first, it may be confusing and even painful. As Adam progresses through transition and his outside begins matching his inside and you get to know your child again, it becomes easier to accept him for himself.

I want to talk about a different narrative. One that isn’t really acknowledged. One that can be much harder to handle.

Susan finally gets up the courage to tell ‘her’ parents that ‘she’ actually identifies as male. But she doesn’t intend to transition. There could be any number of reasons for it, but at least right now he doesn’t feel it’s worth it. He doesn’t intend to come out to everyone, but he needs people who know him for who he truly is and spaces that he’s completely accepted as himself.

It’s so hard to get information about statistics when it comes to transgender people. I can’t tell you how often this actually happens. However, from my experience running a support site for non-op trans people, I think that we are far more common than most would think. And given how more people are aware of transgender people and more transgender people are coming out younger, I imagine that this scenario will begin to come up more often.

Right now, I doubt many parents will ever actually know this about their children. Most people hide it even from their parents- cultivating safe spaces with friends, partners, and chosen family. But parents being able to provide that safe space and being able to accept their child for who they are, despite their outer appearance, can be invaluable. It’s also very difficult. It’s still hard for many people to accept that a trans woman who begins to “look like” a woman actually is one, it’s much harder to accept someone who “looks like” a man is actually a woman. I hope this is something more people can work on being able to do, though.

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My Parents and My Dysphoria

This last year has been the first time that I’ve had so little contact with my parents. I’ve seen them quite a few times, we talk on the phone regularly, but prior to now they were a much more constant part of my life. It was rare for me to go a week without seeing at least one of them.

I’ve been realizing just how much of my dysphoria has been caused by them. It’s sad, painful, and a bit confusing.

My parents have never had an easy time with me being transgender. My dad wanted to, pretended to, but he didn’t- and in pretending to, he never faced the discomfort and worked past it to reach full acceptance. Behind my back, he uses the wrong pronouns and names and makes it very clear that he regards me as a confused woman. My mom is actually reaching closer to full acceptance now. When I’m not in the room, she uses the right pronouns and even calls me my child’s dad. Unfortunately, she’s incredibly stubborn and refuses to let me know that I’ve “won”. It’s a complicated relationship.

Because of my parents, I pushed myself to “prove” my gender. I presented as masculine as possible. I felt like I needed to take hormones (fortunately that didn’t pan out). I legally changed my name to an unambiguously male name. I got a bilateral mastectomy. Perhaps if I took hormones, fully transitioned, it’d be the final push they’d need to fully realize their child isn’t a woman- but it’s possible that it’s not.

That isn’t who I am, though. It never has been. I’ve always had a strong feminine side- but more in a drag queen sense. (I actually really would like to become a drag queen and have done drag performances) It’s a nice occasional performance, but I find it exhausting to pull off full time. The presentation I’m most drawn to is quite androgynous, some feminine aspects, some masculine aspects, but with my body it reads as female. I have to push far away from my preference to be read as male.

I’m non-binary. I’m not a man, I’m not a woman. I don’t have a space to occupy in this society. And I’m realizing that I don’t need a space in the full society, I just need small safe spaces. I need the people closest to me to know and accept. Right now, my home is a safe space for me. My identity is fully accepted. And for that, I’m comfortable wearing the clothes that I’m fully comfortable in, dressing the way that makes me happy rather than the way that will prove my gender.

My dysphoria was incredibly painful for me. I was non-functional, I could barely leave the house. And I don’t truly have any answers. I don’t know for certain that if my parents had been fully able to accept their quirky kid, I would’ve been happy and comfortable. I will never know if I would’ve been able to find a way to be comfortable with my chest if I’d been able to have an open, honest, gender-aware discussion about bras and proper support with someone.

But there’s a very real possibility, and that’s incredibly painful to me.

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Potty Training

I’ve talked a little bit about potty training here already. When our toddler was about 8 months old, we tried Elimination Communication. It was an immediate success, I was delighted and ego-ful. Then, mere months later, our baby who was regularly peeing on the potty, waking to pee, and starting to poo on the potty put his foot down. He was a diaper-wearing baby and that was that.

We had a few more attempts at potty training. Our toddler wasn’t ready. I was frustrated to no end- how could a child who, at 8 months old, knew how to pee in the potty and hold it not be able to at 16 months?! I may never know the answer to that. There reached a point where he was really eager to try, happily asking to sit on the potty every time he saw it then desperately trying to figure out what the heck to do on it until he got frantic and upset. We pulled the plug- the potties went completely away. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then I found out about the Squatty Potty and because we can’t afford one right now, I started using the little potty to prop my feet instead (hey- it works!). Our toddler would sometimes come into the bathroom with one of us and we’d talk about peeing on the potty or whatever we were doing and our toddler would play with the cans of cat food we have in the bathroom despite not having a cat. Sometimes, he would want to sit on the potty. We’d take his diaper off and he would point to between his legs and say “pee” but not really understand what was going on. Eventually I suggested my partner, who has the same equipment as our toddler, specifically show our toddler what ‘peeing’ meant.

A few days ago, our toddler went over to the bathroom door, grabbing his diaper, and whining to get in. We let him in, put him on the potty, and he peed.

We were both ecstatic, giving him lots of encouragement and happy parent signals. We tried putting him on the potty when we thought he might have to go without any success, wondering if we were supposed to be doing things differently or what.

Today, our toddler went into the bathroom, pointed at the big toilet, and said “pee”. I asked if he needed to use the potty, took off his diaper, he sat on the potty and peed.

I am incredibly, incredibly eager to speed this up any way possible. I hate diapers.  But I’m finally accepting that the best way to speed this up is to let my toddler go at his own pace. At least for now.

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