Well, actually, it was terrific!
Our family has it’s share of problems. But not on this day. On this day our family pulled together and made a silent promise that this would be a happy day.
Freddie was showered with gifts and even Izzy recieved a couple, which was especially touching, and I felt another affirmation that she is accepted and loved. All of my sister’s children came. She has five. They aren’t kids, they’ve got lives of their own, but they came. It was honestly, just great.
A couple of unexpected things occurred however.
A couple of days prior, Freddie overheard a conversation in which I was discussing why his birthday wasn’t the time or place for any unpleasantness surrounding Izzy’s transition. Of course, the look on his face, when I got off the phone, told me everything. We had been so careful to protect the kids from this, and now, because of one foolishly timed conversation, we couldn’t continue to keep this from him, he needed an explanation.
So we sat, Freddie and I. We sat and looked at each other. And then, I told him. “Freddie, some people don’t feel it can be right for boy to become a girl, and well, Aunty and I were talking about whether or not your party is the place for them to be.” (This Aunty by the way has been 100% accepting right from the start, it was about other people).
He stares at me intensely, the face of a judge about to make his ruling. Inside I’m in turmoil. Is this news going to ruin his party? Is this news going to ruin his life? Is this news going to turn him against his sister? Or me? Have I done the right thing? Should I have lied to cover it up? Will he be ok?
Inside I hear screaming, it’s me. Outside my eyes remain locked on his. I wait. He’s my child, I want to protect him. I don’t want to expose him to hurt. He’s only seven, he shouldn’t have to deal with this. But, you know what? I wait, and then he says “Who mum? Who doesn’t think Izzy can be a girl? Because I don’t want them at my party.”
He’s only seven yet he exceeds all my possible hopes. I’ve exposed him to this discrimination and he’s leapt to his sister’s defence. And this from a brother who daily gets annoyed with his sibling and tells her to go away. Who sometimes gets so annoyed he screams and shouts at her and hurts her. This from a brother who is almost daily screamed and shouted at or hurt by this sister. Despite all this, my son, my seven year old son, immediately stood up for her. Just as he has in the playground and at school. Instead of putting himself first, he put her first, without a second thought.
When I told him who – his Aunty and her partner, his Uncle. (Here I must note that my sister-in-law responded immediately to our announcement of Izzy’s transition by saying we could count on their support, unfortunately my brother, her husband clearly didn’t agree. I miss her.) Freddie took a moment to overcome his shock. These are people he’s grown up respecting. These people are who he counts as those that love him, Izzy, us. He took a momenr, but he never wavered. “So will the girls (his cousins aged 4 and 8) have to come on their own?” Oh no. My heart sank again. Another nail in the coffin. “They won’t be coming either Freddie.” I wait.
He looks down, the look of disappointment drops from his face and is replaced by resolve. “Mum, I can’t believe it. Why wouldn’t they believe Izzy is a girl? She is a girl. I’m going to write Uncle S a letter.” And he does, straight away.
We took a photo and I emailed it to my brother, and, for good measure, sent it via text. He still hasn’t replied.
The other unexpected thing to come out of the party was my feeling for my youngest sister who joins our brother in his rejection of Izzy. She did come, but she did not talk to me, Harry or Izzy. In fact I didn’t see her even once look at or acknowledge Izzy’s presence. I thought I’d feel anger, I’d spent weeks wondering how would I contain it? Could I contain it? Should I contain it?
But the anger didn’t join us that day, sadness came instead.
I felt and feel deeply sad and I wonder if thst feeling will ever leave me.