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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is A's 13th birthday. We all had a wonderful day, starting with an awesome hockey game where s/he showed off her talent as a goaltender, followed by a party with her team-mates and coaches. From there we went to one of her favourite places, Maplewood Farm. We visited the goats, cows, horses and pigs, to name a few. As I learned from a young age, animals don't judge or scrutinize. Anneke has the same kinship with animals I have had for most of my life ... she would like to be the next 'Dog Whisperer' and build a Canadian rehabilitation centre for dogs. I suggested she start with our own, poorly trained dog, Zoe.

After an afternoon of Wii, and NHL hockey we made our way to English Bay to have dinner at one of our favourite restaurants and watch the Cannucks. The table next to us was filled with almost 20 gay men celebrating a pending marriage two of their friends. They helped us sing Happy Birthday to Anneke as though we were in a Broadway show. It was great!

As with any birthday, I also like to celebrate the fact that I gave birth, and haven't managed to kill or screw up my kids yet. To this end I enjoyed an amazing meal, several pomegranate martinis and a dessert to die for.

I have no illusions that next year will be full of challenges. What I know for sure, is that Anneke has the strength and maturity to take it all in stride.

This year we have all become Gleeks. The lyrics to this song are what I wish I could sing/say to Anneke each and every day of her life.

Happy Birthday Anneke. You are an amazing kid!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Your son just.....

So I am totally used to people referring to A. as my son. This is no longer a surprise, but in certain venues I am still taken off guard it seems. Years ago, I used to correct people, and let them know that A. was indeed my daughter. This led to a variety of reactions, mostly just awkward apologies, and A. looking embarrassed. It has been years since I corrected someone.

One of the places there is no confusion is A's hockey world. She has been a member of the Vancouver Angel's girls hockey team since our arrival in Vancouver 4+ years ago. All the parents, coaches and kids know her and make her feel welcomed and valued. This year she plays goal on a Pee Wee rep team. Last year she helped out as goalie for the Midget level girls team and played at the Bantam level (one level up from her age group). As a result, parents from almost all levels know A.

The new factor this year is that Molly has started to play hockey... also for the Vancouver Angels. Its fair to say, many of the parents on Molly's team, don't know A. or know that s/he is natally female. Recently at a skills building session at the Trout Lake arena, I was bringing A. to her session and picking up Molly from hers. When Molly and I emerged from the dressing room a very agitated mom was waiting outside the door eager to let me know that my son appears to have gone in the wrong dressing room.

This is what I mean by being taken off guard. "Sorry?" I said, a bit confused.
"Your son just went into the girls dressing room...I think he's in the wrong place."
Molly, a veteran of these conversations, immediately caught on.
"That's my sister...she's a girl, that's her team." she informed the well meaning mom.
Catching on, I realized that she thought me teenage son had just crashed a dressing room full of half-naked 11 and 12 year old girls...thus her distress.
"Yes," I added, "that's my older daughter Anneke, s/he is the goalie for the Pee Wee rep team."
Since its been years since I had corrected someone, it has also been years since I had witnessed the awkward reaction to this revelation. As anticipated, she repeated, "I'm so sorry," about 6 times. Molly attempted to comfort the poor mom by simply stating that "That's ok, it happens all the time. Anneke is a girl... but really is mostly a boy. Everyone gets confused. Bye!"
While this makes total sense to Molly and I, the woman watched us walk away, with a look of both embarrassment and confusion etched across her face.

I used to get irritated by these conversations, but now I view them as opportunities to share with other people how wonderful and unique my kid is... and to challenge their traditional views of gender.