Self-awareness : parenting toddlers

They see my most visible tattoo. They ask what it is, I tell them is a permanent drawing. They get drawing, the permanent part is lost on them at first. They don’t ask why that drawing in particular. It’s got multiple layers of meaning, the trans layer is contextual to the other meanings.

Every few days of summer or any time we go swimming, they like to draw the outline with their fingers. Sometimes when they see it going by, they shout “drawing!”

I presume as they age they’ll ask or figure out what it is. I moderately worry that while they’re too young to appreciate transphobic safety concerns, or how people who don’t know my medical history don’t figure it out via the tattoo, they might wrongly conclude I disclose more than I do, or that it’s no big deal to disclose me. I wonder if during a fit of puberty induced anger, they’ll opt to disclose me knowing it’ll put me at risk. I worried about that before, but somehow their ongoing fascinating with that tattoo has increased this worry. I’m not losing sleep over this but it’s bringing into focus how my relationship to disclosure is that much less in my control as the kids grow up. Deep breath.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash
[Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash. Description: an adult on a beach, swinging small children around.]

When one of them falls on the sidewalk, they get distressed by the dirt on their hands. I tell them to wipe them on their shorts until we can wash them at home. Invariably, they wipe their hands on my short, sometimes very close to or directly above my crotch. Wiping them on me is fairly predictable toddler logic. Dirt is ewe. I must wipe dirt on shorts to get ride of it. Your shorts will do better than mine own. The proximity to my crotch is a function of their height, and wholly asexual understanding of bodies. I moderately worry about overly scrutinizing adults judging me, but that’s it. I’m grateful my packing silicone days are a distant memory.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
[Picture by Ben White on Unsplash. Description: a toddler dressed smart in a grey vest and pink collar shirt is holding a book open and looking surprised.]

I’m sitting on the can, thus facing the toilet’s door that doesn’t have a lock. They call out, and despite my request they not, they walk in anyway. “Oh, your pee pee!” They walk out content that I’ll help them when I’m done. I doubt they’ll remember this happened, it was uneventful to them, but prior me would have fretted endlessly about that. So grateful for phalloplasty.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
[Picture by Thought Catalog on Unsplash. Description: a blue book sits on a light marble stand, against an orange background. The title reads: What I Didn’t Post on Instagram: A Collection of Essays on Real Lives and What We Filter Out.]

We’re in the thick of potty training. If we’ve gone out without wearing a diaper, and there’s no toilet in sight, we go with peeing against a bush or tree. They’ve taken to calling this “Pee pee the bush!”

They’re playing in the garden as we do major home renovations, water’s been cut for this bit. Nature calls, so I make my way outside to the other side of the home to pee out of sight. But they’ve heard the side door open, they know someone’s come out from the chaotic construction site, and they go to investigate. I’m as hidden as I can be so as to not accidentally scandalise upstair neighbours, but the toddlers hear the stream and correctly conclude what I’m doing. “Pee pee the bush!” they say and laugh that they’ve caught me doing this too. So grateful for urethraplasty.

do not enter potty erik zunder unsplash
[Picture by Erik Zunder on Unsplash. Description: A Do Not Enter sign, porta-potty, old graffitied building, pylons and more in an urban city]

They pour out their potties into the toilet bowl when they’re done. One day, it dawns on one of them that they’ve grown just enough to cut out the middle bowl. He stands next to the full size bowl, door wide open, and pees into it, calling out for this accomplishment to be cheered. I turn the corner to witness this and I’m genuinely happy for him, if slightly blown away by the speed at which they grow. I’m so grateful I was able to do this before him, so I can be fully happy for him, and not partly dysphoric/envious.

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash
[Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash. Description: an adult with short hair seen from behind, carrying a toddler in each arm while standing in a field of poppies.]

Whenever I give a piggy back or put one of them on my shoulders, I ask if they’re holding on tight. Rather than yes, they’ve taken to answering “tight tight.”

I tell them I’m leaving for a while. On the way back from our morning time at the park, the introvert asks if I can hold him in my arms. He usually asks when hurt or afraid. I pick him up, and he wraps his arms around me, and says “tight tight.” I’m grateful I had chest reconstruction, there’s neither binder or dysphoria between us. As we continue our way home, and he’s not showing any sign of wanting to go back to the ground, I realise this is a long goodbye hug. My heart breaks open as he squeezes a little harder. My arms are about ready to drop, but I’m so grateful our affection isn’t compromised by my former struggles.

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