Author Archives: ruthie1985

LWS –> PDX

If you follow me on social media (Instagram, mostly, as I rarely post on Facebook) you have probably heard that our family is moving. It’s all true, I don’t lie, we are leaving the LC Valley for something a little bigger, more accepting, more willing to understand and embrace.

 

First, if you are an LC Valley resident and this offends you, I’m sorry. This isn’t personal and isn’t meant to hurt anyone. It’s just kind of a fact. Look at the demographic here. White, republican, Christian seems to be the majority. That’s not wrong, but what tends to happen is that this particular demographic, as a whole, tends to have a hard time accepting and embracing those who don’t fit the mold. There are exceptions to this for sure (NOT EVERY WHITE, CHRISTIAN REPUBLICAN IS THIS WAY…did you hear me? So you can’t say I said “they’re all like that”), but it’s hard to argue that I’m wrong. I’ve had to talk to my kids more times than I should that the people yelling on the corner of the blue bridge are racist. That the bumper sticker in front of us is offensive. That the tee shirt being worn at the grocery store is not appropriate.

 

In Portland, I wore my “No Human Being is Illegal” tee shirt and in 48 hours do you know how many people mentioned it? Seven. Seven people said they liked my shirt and one man in his early 30s told me it was “just beautiful.” Not one person out and about has commented on it positively here.

 

Anyway, my heart swelled with love after Luke came out publicly as being transgender. I had people ‘like’ my post, more than any other post. I had people text and call telling me how brave we were, how amazing we were, how wonderful Luke was. But as time went on, that support remained, but the judgement also came creeping in, slowly. First, a teacher at the school, of the other 2nd grade class, refused to hand out invitations to his party unless they were in white envelopes and even at that, posted something on her class’ Facebook page “warning” parents about what they were going to see. She freaked out when I wanted to talk to the kids and explain that Luke is still the same friend even though he is changing his name. I assured her that I’d never go into details about what Transgender means and nothing would be talked about as far as sexuality (dude, these are 2nd graders for God’s sake). But still, no. A children’s book, “I Am Jazz” wasn’t allowed to be read because it said “transgender.” The concern was the teacher’s Facebook page being blown up by parents who were unhappy, not that the children would learn something.

 

Little girls in the other class, ones who I thought were so wonderful and sweet, ones who were friends with Luke last year (good friends!), started reminding Luke weekly (if not daily) that he’ll never be a boy, he’ll always be a girl and that they will call him Alice.

 

Some parents told me that it was okay for them to be school friends, but they couldn’t get together outside of school. I pushed, because that’s what Ruthie does when she’s hurt and offended, and asked if it had anything to do with him being transgender. She won’t text me back.

 

Comments from friends told to other friends behind my back, questioning why we would “let” our child do this. Not having another family here with a young transgender child to connect with. The lack of resources here for both Luke and myself – no support group, no counselors well trained in this area, nothing.

 

If we stayed here, Luke would grow up being the token trans kid in the valley. He’d be the one everyone knew (I grew up here, my parents grew up here, we know many people in the valley) and the one thing they’d say about him before all else is: he’s transgender. He’d likely have a hard (if not impossible time) dating when he is old enough. School dances would be rough. Traveling for medical appointments would suck. Living in a very small community would Just. Plain. Suck. This is just the way it is with small towns — there aren’t enough resources to pull from, not enough experiences to relate to if you’re a bit different.

 

We’ve been so incredibly lucky to be able to support our large family. We don’t take that for granted and it’s something we are very grateful for. But here’s something money can’t buy: it can’t buy the feeling of acceptance or security. Money can’t keep your child from crying after school or when he hears he’s been denied yet another play date with one of his best friends. Money doesn’t make it so that Maria has to defend her younger sibling all the time to people (children!) who feel comfortable telling her how weird our situation is, using God to try and make her feel less-than. Maria needs to worry about herself, be a kid for the small amount of kid-time she has left. She loves her siblings and she would do and say anything to make them feel safe and happy, but that’s something she shouldn’t have to always be doing. Money doesn’t buy my friends back who have quietly and slowly pulled away.

 

Change doesn’t magically happen.

 

I’m tired. I’m tired of creating this bubble for my kids where I tell them they can be anything they want, they are loved regardless of what they look like, how they feel, how they act and who they are. And once they leave that bubble, they’re disappointed. They’re shocked. I teach my children about diversity not through living it in our everyday community. Not by having it be just part of life. No, here I have to seek out books and movies and we have to travel to other places. I have to have conversations with them about what it means to be gay and how everyone should be able to love anyone they choose. I have worked my ass off to ensure that when we see someone anywhere who looks different, whether it’s because of the color of their skin, what they are wearing, how they dress, or a visible disability, my kids don’t flinch. They can ask questions, and I’m okay with that, but they aren’t surprised or appalled or taken aback because that’s just not how it is in our small community. I’m tired of people telling me they support us but where are they, really, when someone needs to be called out for making an awful joke or when they’re aware of bullies but do nothing to stop them?

 

Let me say that I know it’s hard. And it’s okay for this community to be here, to function as it is, to continue to be exactly what is is. But it’s also okay for me to know that for our family, for my children, myself, it’s not okay for us to stay here.

 

It’s our jobs as parents to protect our children. To love them and make sure they are happy and healthy and if that’s not happening, it’s our job to make a change. Even if that change comes with stress and uncertainty and leaving our very best people and sometimes tears. It’s our job, our responsibility to do what’s right for us.

 

For us, we want every single one of our children to not only survive, but to thrive. Would we be ‘just fine’ staying here? Yeah, for sure. But I don’t wanna be ‘just fine,’ especially when there are other options. I want Ollie to be loved for being exactly who she is and I want Luke to be loved for being exactly who he is. I want to be somewhere, someplace bigger with more people who are different, so that James has a network of people who share his interests, who love him for being exactly who he is. I want Charlotte’s buzzed hair to not cause people’s jaws to drop and I want Maria to experience lots and lots. Francesca, she’s one who will do whatever the hell she wants, anytime she wants, so I’m not worried about her. I want to see signs in yards all over the place that say:

 

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So we are making a change. Because we can, because it’s our choice, because it’s what we feel and know is the best for our entire family. And you might have the same politics and feelings as I do but stay in the Valley and that’s okay. I don’t think you’re wrong for doing it, I don’t think you’re in denial, I don’t think you just don’t care. I think we all do our very best and we all do what is best for our family – and sometimes change isn’t best for every family. You might have completely opposite politics as I do and take all of this as an insult, but please don’t. This is a very personal choice for us.

 

And if you live in the valley and think I’m wrong and are are hurt by how I feel, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you feel bad, make you feel like I dislike you (we can have different beliefs and I can still really, really love you. I promise.) or make you feel like I’m bashing your beliefs and lifestyles. I’m not. I only know what we’ve experienced and from that, what we need. We love LOTS and lots of people in this community. LOTS. And we will continue to love them and respect them and I hope we will stay in touch and I hope that when we come back to visit, we’ll see all our friends.

 

And what has happened at school? I know that will happen anywhere. But I also know that where we are headed will have more people who can help, who can support and who will understand what we’re going through. I know there will always be people who don’t like how we choose to raise our children and I don’t think we’re just running away from it all and it will be magic. But I know it will be easier.

 

And let me be very clear: my friends are amazing. It’s not as if we have no one here who supports us and sticks up for us and who would do anything for our family. We do, we have many, some that have different beliefs than us and some who have the same. And the kids’ school has gone ABOVE AND BEYOND in making it a safe place for Luke and a place where Jamie can thrive. Mr. Nicholas is incredible and I’m sure received some backlash from teachers and parents for his continued support of Luke, but he kept it up, he never let us down and he helped more than he’ll ever know in making Luke feel comfortable transitioning. The exact same goes for his teacher, Mrs. Cook and the school psychologist, Mrs. Crockett. And 90% of the staff out there. Thank you, thank you – I’ll never be able to say that enough.

 

So there it is. We’re outta here. Some of you will cheer, I’m sure, but for those of you who like us, come visit. Follow us on Instagram (@ruthiepizzle) and Snapchat (@ruthieprasil). Send us good vibes and we’ll do the same for you. ❤

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IIX (does that mean 8?)

When our 3rd was born, that baby was as beautiful as the two that came before.

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I think Jamie holds the record for most hair but this one came awfully close to beating him.

Sometimes I think about the first several years, when we called that baby Alice and how I insisted on dresses and not cutting that long and beautiful hair and finding hair bows that matched and insisting on posed pictures and dress up. And when I think of that, I remember how sweet that Alice was. How quiet and shy, but how nice and sweet and happy she was. How she just did what we asked, didn’t fuss too much (certainly not enough for me to consider it a battle not worth fighting), and went along with life.

And then I remember the quiet times, around four or five years old, when that Alice told us she really wanted to be a boy. And when that child, at six years old, put their foot down on dresses and skirts and talked me into a shorter haircut.

And most recently at seven, the courage it took to to tell us “I don’t want to be a boy, I am one,” and everything that has happened since. Now that child is Lucian Maureen and that sweet voice is still there. I never thought I’d be celebrating my third child’s 8th birthday with “he” and “him” and “his” but my heart is bursting with how happy I am that we are.

Lucian is 8 and what an incredible 8-year-old he is.

  • happy
  • funny
  • shy
  • silly
  • brave

Lucian wants to grow up and get married and have babies some day and it’s obvious that he’ll be the best daddy because he’s so great with Franci and when he spots a baby, he just melts. He skates up a storm and he’s not so bad on the snow, either. He has lots of friends and is the best friend in the world. Sometimes he gets upset pretty easily and has a hard time, but he always is able to calm down and talk about it, and that’s not easy. He loves cake and he loves lavender soda and his favorite thing is one-on-one time with mom and dad.

Without Lucian, I’m not sure who we would be. But I’m guessing our family wouldn’t be quite as great.

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Happy 8th birthday to our beautiful boy!

VI

Today I have a six year old. Charlotte Clayton is six.

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Charlotte is each and every one of the following at any given time of day:

  • fierce
  • quiet
  • patient
  • kind
  • sassy
  • loud
  • snuggly
  • chill
  • creative
  • cheerful
  • wiggly

Charlotte is so many things at so many different times of the day or week and sometimes lots of things at once. She is smart and she is SO. FREAKING. HILARIOUS. If you look too deep in her eyes, she’ll keep you there, so be careful. She’s striking, the epitome of fashion and her androgynous style and the way she pulls it off is pretty rad.

She’s our number four, our loudest girl, the most daring and the most confident. She is a really good friend and she’s such a sweet soul – she’s empathetic towards others’ situations and sometimes she catches me by surprise with the way she understands some really hard things.

She’s named after one of our favorite people and his spirit shows through her all the time. She’s fun and she’s full of stories and she wants to be friends with everyone.

Without Charlotte, our lives would be quieter and more boring. We’d laugh a little less and we’d probably use 1/2 as many Bandaids.

Happiest, happiest of days to our sweet, fun, and sassy Charlotte Clayton.

A good listen for teachers, parents, and people.

This is a podcast from NPR that consists of a panel of people (a transgender student, a law college professor, a school principal, and a senior counsel for a conservative legal organization) who discuss the ‘bathroom issue’ as it pertains to and affects people (transgender or not). If you think this is a ridiculous thing to talk about, a stupid thing to discuss, you should listen to this podcast.

 

http://the1a.org/shows/2017-02-27/beyond-bathrooms-the-battle-over-transgender-rights

Easter 2017

For the past couple years, we’ve avoided the ping pong-ing of going from house to house to egg hunt to egg hunt because it’s just too much. Instead, we host Easter brunch at our house after we’ve done our own family thing.

Our own family thing consists of Easter baskets and an inside egg hunt where some eggs are more easily found than others.

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We don’t go crazy on baskets. They’re even more simplified than Christmas stockings. Lots of candy, a couple toys, a book, that kind of thing. Each of the little girls got a doll. I think we nailed it as far as the quality vs. quantity.

After some time with the baskets, they hunt. And then they celebrate. (James chose not to participate this year)

 

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(I wanna know what goes on in that smart little brain of his)

And then, after all that fun just by ourselves, we invite more awesome people to come over to eat like crazy and have even more fun!

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Maria serenaded us with some violin, too.

We had a little quiet time and then decided to go to the skatepark.

Okay, so why is it that parents think it’s okay to just drop their little kids off at the skatepark with their new scooters and rip sticks and leave them there, where they don’t take turns, they cut people off, and make it a mess for scooter-ers and skaters who actually wanna ride and know what they’re doing. It drives me nuts. And when they do get in the way and cause a collision, and the parent is there, the parent does nothing. Like…literally nothing. So we had to deal with it. Which meant doing nothing, because when you try to tell 9-year-olds that they should take turns so they don’t get hurt, they look at you like you’re a complete idiot. So Luke kept getting SUPER frustrated and Jamie kept pretending to throw up (it’s a tactic he’s been using to get us to leave somewhere in a hurry…he wasn’t actually throwing up, more like very dramatically coughing and spitting) and Franci wouldn’t quit screaming (she was coloring in the car, literally feet from the park with all doors open, we could hear her and talk to her, but she wasn’t happy with it) so we bagged it and headed home for some quiet time and a bike ride.

I’m beyond tired and I don’t think I’m ready for the work week. But it’s weird how it comes whether you are ready or not, huh?

Happy Easter!

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Spring break and getting out of town

The kids are on Spring Break so the first part of it was spent out of town. Naturally.

Yep, we headed to Seattle and spent the long weekend with my brother and Lily and doing fun tourist-y things like MoPOP and the aquarium and Pike’s Place.

Oh, and hotel swims. We had lots of hotel swims.

No Prasil trip is complete without a sick child or two, right? So we had that, too. But our kids are troopers extreme and they powered through.

We went to a transgender support group for children ages 3-9 and it was pretty incredible. Working with Willow Center, I know how important it is for children to not feel like they are going through something difficult alone. That they aren’t the only “weird” one, that there are all types of people. And when you’re with a bunch of people who are navigating something similar to what you are, you don’t feel so alone, so judged, and so lonely. We left the support group and Luke was smiling so much he was almost laughing. I said, “So did you meet people like you? Who people thought was a girl when they were born but is actually a boy?” He looked up at me and laughed and said, “I don’t even know! I couldn’t tell!” And I might have teared up.

But the ice in my heart quickly froze all emotion and things were normal. Phew.

We had lots of delicious meals, both with kids and without. We went to Pie Bar which was so delicious and I want 10 more chicken pot pies and 5 more berry pies stat. We went to Top Pot donuts and El Borracha and we watched the Zags lose and played at parks and walked all over and it was really, really fun.

But we were exhausted by the end of it. So now we’re just home, hanging out, enjoying no-school days. Working from home and watching so much Netflix. The weather is beautiful and the kids have been outside so much. We have a busy month with Green Apple Project fundraisers and events and work and doctor’s appointments and school and………but you are all familiar with busy lives!

Happy Spring.

Name change parties and a happy boy.

Kids are funny, yeah? Unless you teach them something isn’t quite right, they roll with it. Unless you teach them that one is better than another, they think everyone is equal. Unless you teach them that a little girl who never felt like a girl at all, but more like a boy who is now living his true self is sick and wrong, they’ll think it’s the most logical thing to do. Be who you are, don’t worry about what others think.

I asked Luke what he would say to someone who didn’t support him, who thought it wasn’t right for someone with girl parts to really be a boy and live like a boy. He said, “I would tell them that it’s okay to be who you are and you should just accept people for who they are.”

Kids get it.

So when I went to Luke’s school and spoke to the principal, the school psychologist, and his classroom teacher, we all pretty much agreed that this would be a smooth transition, that children would be accepting. Because that’s how things should be. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Call me crazy, but I think maybe that even includes transgender children and adults. So imagine my surprise when one of the teachers refused to be supportive (not Luke’s classroom teacher and not the school psychologist or principal…they were and are so amazing. My kids are so lucky to be at that school). She refused to take this as an opportunity to teach her students that Alice isn’t transforming into another person completely, she’s just changing her name to Luke and would like to live as a boy…that same friend is still there, just with shorter hair and a different spelling of the name. Imagine my surprise when she not only put his name change party invites into a sealed white envelope for her class, but also posted about it on Facebook, telling parents that the kids have no idea what’s in the envelope and she wanted them to see it before making a decision. The invite literally just said, “name change party.” I didn’t use words like transgender or queer or go into detail about our situation.  There wasn’t even a rainbow on the invite for God’s sake. It was a simple invitation to all of Luke’s friends to come and celebrate this huge change.

I shouldn’t have been too surprised. Some adults will make a big deal out of things no matter what. Even when it makes it harder for children, harder for families, adults still feel like they  need to insert themselves into every situation and try and take charge. This isn’t something that anyone can really take charge of. It’s not something that can change. This is just the way it is, and if you know Luke, you know it’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

This weekend was Luke’s name change party and how lucky are we that so many people came?

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All these people were here for Luke. Parents I had never met, close friends, kids from the other class, siblings…all of these friends were here to tell Luke that he’s great. That this change is one that will be met with love and support more often than judgment and hate. These are the people who will be his allies, his helpers, the people he can go to when things get hard.

Oh, these friends of ours (and so many that weren’t able to come and aren’t pictured, too!)

I think I took more Polaroid photos than I did normal ones, but this is a pretty good representation. Luke’s face never quit smiling.

We had food and goodies and such a great time.

Gifts. People brought Luke gifts.

What’s one way that someone can show you they love you? By traveling hours and hours for an event that they know is almost as important as a birth to you. (It was. That might sound crazy but this was so important.)

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These guys know life isn’t easy and they know it’s going to be even harder for Luke. They know that the one teacher who isn’t supportive is just a tiny taste of what we’ll be met with for years and years. They know that one thing that a child can never get enough of is love. My kids have no doubt about who they can turn to when they need it.

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These are my people. And all the ones on the other side of the camera. And all the ones to the side and behind us. All the people who see Luke for who he is, what his heart shows, how he treats others, how he loves and how we love him. These are our people, whether they were at the party or not, those who show us love and respect and compassion – those are our people.

 

There’s a song in Hamilton (I know, I know) and the lyrics make me tear up every time.

 

“…you will come of age with our young nation.

We’ll bleed and fight for you.

We’ll make it right for you.

If we lay a strong enough foundation,

We’ll pass it on to you,

We’ll give the world to you

And you’ll blow us all away

Someday, someday.”

Every time I sing this song, I think of what I’m doing for my kids. How hard I’m working, how hard my family is working, how hard my friends are working. It’s not always easy to speak out when you know something is wrong. It’s not always easy to be who you truly are, especially when so many people so loudly disagree. It’s heartbreaking to see someone hate your child when they don’t even know them.

But if we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll give the world to our children. And they’ll blow us all away. That, I know, and that’s why I’m willing to fight and make it right.