The cub has had a good first week, with a routine of evening reading that got him a reading star, and comments from his teacher when I picked him up that he was settling in well.
We gave him a day off yesterday but today Lady M has engaged him to do his homework with the promise of boardgames afterwards. Only minor active resistance was employed, mostly because we’ve waved a game he’s been wanting to play for ages at him, and because Lady M has negotiated a pocket money earning scheme depending on his doing homework and housework.
I’m currently sitting opposite him while Lady M uses a combination of open questions and humour to head off his deflections when he can’t see an immediate answer.
He’s also rocking a new haircut, following a sneak booking into the barbers in our local Tesco. I went to do the shopping accompanied by the cub and boy s, and then handled the queue and payment while boy s took him for his booking. The cub apparently uttered a ” Oh no…” when he saw where they were – which feels a fitting response to the almost passive resistance we’ve had all week to the concept.
Now he’s got it, he is of course very pleased but like many typical ten year olds he won’t be told. So far, so normal.
The cub started at his new school this week amid worries in his side, and bemusement on ours. For the most part this has been in boy s realising that the locals are a lot more accepting when it comes to lgbtq people and lives than where he has been living.
Most notably this week has been our interactions with the new school, where boy s and I were accepted as the cub’s parents and then explaining that Lady M was part of our triad – and might therefore also be an adult picking cub up or dropping him off barely rated a reaction at all.
Misgendering has been minimal, and very swiftly and appropriately corrected – and then stuck to and communicated to other staff. The local corner shop owner, no stranger to the many school children and their families, was similarly accepting.
To boy s this has been a stark contrast to what he has grown up with and faced over the years, so I’m finding it both heartaching and wonderful to see and hear his astonished reactions. It gives me hope and irritates me in equal measure that an hour and a half’s travel seems to have also leapt him forward about thirty years culturally.
The cub starts at his new school tomorrow, which came as something of a shock to him while we were being shown round this morning. As you might expect, all the stages of grief and protestations have been rapidly cycling today as a result.
Behind the snark and angst and sarcasm however, it all comes back to him being a very anxious young boy who has had a lot of change and upheaval in the last few weeks. It makes the outbursts easier to put in context even when we’re being driven to distraction.
But we’re working together and supporting each other and him, and I’m sure that once he’s actually started he’ll calm down and resume his ordinary goblin behaviour. Let’s see what the morning brings
Despite the foggy start we headed out to the wilds of Hounslow today in search of school uniform items for the cub. The boy s was down in Portsmouth getting more work done on his leg so it was just the three of us piled into the car as the sun burned through.
I grew up in the area but haven’t really been back in years. The High Street is still bustling and energetic, but recession has bitten it hard, and I felt saddened to see what it is now compared to what I was even ten years ago. There’s what feels like an undertone of desperation rather than the busy hustle that I would have previously characterised as its mood.
And yet at the same time there’s life and energy rather than the flat despair of some high streets. It was a strange mix, and perhaps I felt it more because I had a youngster with me and was therefore more consciously watchful.
With all that said, the school shop was a step back in time both to equipping the Charleesi for her own school journey, and memories of my own trips for The Mall, and St John’s. The staff were friendly, and I slipped into a comfortable space as we assembled all the elements we needed. I even enjoyed the dust and fabric scents of the shop as a sensory treat – it was all very familiar in a comforting sense.
We’re meeting the Headmaster of the school that the cub is transferring to on Tuesday – well boy s and I are anyway. It does feel very strange to be diving back into this mode again with the Charleesi all grown up now. That said I’m in a very different headspace and set of circumstances this time. I’m not deeply unwell in the throes of clinical depression for starters. Maybe I should just accept this as the universe offering me a chance to experience all this with a clearer and healthier head.
I can accept that gift now. There’s a lot of experiences that I didn’t appreciate as much as I should have when I was ill and there’s still guilt around that that I work through in counselling. Today has stirred up rather more than I was expecting but it feels healthy even if it has been exhausting.
Another busy couple of days, largely based around personnel and hiring issues and processes, and it does feel like progress of sorts. The boy s has started his new job too and is, predictably, exhausted from the step change in physical activity that comes with it.
What seems to have been a consistent element in our collective week has been conversations around pronouns in and around our respective work places. Both myself and Lady M are among those championing the wider placement of pronouns in online and physical spaces.
Explaining why I wear a pronouns badge and put them in my email signature and Teams profile is another aspect of my drive to be visible and normalising their use, as well as a statement in support for those who may not feel safe or able to express their real selves at this time.
The real delight this week has been hearing how boy s’ new workplace has so actively championed this since reopening post-covid and the supportive and open feel that his workplace has as a result. This has proved especially important in the face of aggressive and malicious misgendering that he has faced from members of the public and that has been both draining and dispiriting for him.
This maliciousness is something I’ve experienced for myself in response to pronoun use, but as I’m cis I can’t even begin to feel the depths of how nasty and abusive this is for trans people. Seeing and hearing the hurt and exhaustion experienced by boy s is very difficult, makes me angry, and makes me more determined than ever to support friends, partners, and anyone else that needs it.
With new staff starting this week, some dynamics have of course shifted a little, and I was pleasantly surprised at lunchtime to hear something from the staffroom that I’ve not heard in a while: happy people. There was laughter, even.
It took me a moment even to place it, what with the blur of change and stress that covid and restructures and new systems have put on people. But there it was: a lightness of tone in people’s voices, laughter, and a general relaxation even if just in that moment.
I’m pretty sure I mentioned a while back that I’d been notified that Amazon were about to start widening my access to various markets with a program of translation into various languages in an automated process.
Well, that process is now underway, and my Ludd Clothing items are now available in not only the UK and US versions of Amazon but also the French, German, and Japanese markets as well. Looking at my visitor statistics I can see regular visitors from each of those areas, so if you’re interested please take a look and I’ll endeavour to put direct links up for each of the .de .fr .jp and .com versions in addition to the .co.uk version above.
One of the casualties of our moving all in together, for now at least, has been our regular Sunday game of D&D. That’s why there haven’t been any updates on that front.
We’ve thought of various ways of accommodating the new arrangements: from being in different rooms and hoping the flat’s bandwidth can keep up; to adopting a tabletop, camera, and mini microphone combination with discord and twitch Heath Robinson invention.
I think what we’re probably going to revert to is a once a month or so meeting in person, at least for now. I’m missing playing and DMing intensely but its further down the priority list than the logistics of blending our households right now.
It does give me time to do some writing for the next phase of the game though, and make some maps and encounters online for reference. There will be a small time leap to give the characters some downtime – which allows them to make some plans, and me to throw in plot devices.
If reading that doesn’t make them clamour to get started sooner so that I have less time to plot, I don’t know what will…
My work continues to be an adventure, full of ups and downs, but today was all about boy s and his search for employment. The first good omen was his replacement bank cards arriving with the right name and our address on the paperwork.
The second good thing was all the traffic lights cooperating on the way to the interview as I drove him there.
And successful he was. Its a seasonal job with Thorpe Park, so won’t be long term, but it’s a huge boost for his morale to get something so quickly after moving up here.
We had to celebrate of course, so after a quick rampage through the local shops to sort out new trousers and shoes, we went out for a meal and have let the tension wash away in food and drink.
Now if we can just get the cub sorted at a new school…
Today has felt like a day of firefighting, but I’m not entirely sure why. I think with an extended network outage at one site, and a need to do some frontline support while juggling deadlines it has all felt a bit more fraught than usual.
It hasn’t been helped by staff being a bit snappy under stress, which no matter how adult about everything I remain, still feels personal.
A late evening working meant a much needed gin when I got in, along with hugs from Lady M, boy s, and the goblin. There’s some advantage to coming home to the assembled crowd.