It was only about two weeks into the school year when we got called in to the principle's office.
Kitty was extremely miffed. She was embarrassed and suspected the worst - that the "older" kids were picking on "Olivia" because she was smaller and younger, and that somehow this reflected poorly on us as parents, and that skipping was a mistake. I told her I thought we were doing the best we could under the circumstances, and that I hadn't noticed anything dreadfully wrong with the kid: okay, he's not exactly happy go lucky, he comes home and goes to his room to play video games (which, we had to buy him a PlayStation, over Kitty's objections, but I consider it part of the compensation plan for getting two years and your gender taken away.) But he isn't crying himself to sleep every night or whining or acting miserable to us.
In fact, every night I tuck him in to bed and I ask how his day was and he tells me if it was good or not. And I have taken to telling him that we're two very lucky people, because we get to know things that the rest of the world doesn't, what it's like to be both. At first he said he didn't feel lucky and he wished he could go back, but... lately he's toned that down a bit.
So we got to the school and yes, we did get a bit of a talking to. Olivia is "temperamental" and has a habit of "talking back." Kitty immediately threw me under the bus because I "encourage" that sort of thing, and I wanted to respond but for the sake of decorum I didn't. I just said that I like having a child who speaks their mind.
The principle's point was that the kid was acting out to try to win friends - trying to be the class clown. I smiled at that and asked: was it working? The principle said that wasn't really her area of expertise. But maybe Olivia would benefit from some after school activities, and here, take some pamphlets.
And what a coincidence, all of these activities cost money, which is tight, and would go to the school. I feel like some kind of scam is being run here.
Kitty and I started looking elsewhere because we did buy into the notion that the Kid could use some of the structure and social interactions that come from after school activities. It helped me to find Theater Tech when I was Lauren. Plus I remember reading about the success Lane had in helping get Kari's daughter in order by encouraging her to do track.
Of course this was the stage for another tug of war between me and Kitty about how exactly we're going to raise this kid. She's still of the mind that putting on the appearance of being a normal girl will make him feel more normal: hence, her pitches were for things like gymnastics and ballet/dance. Me, I still remember enduring some of Lauren's extra-curriculars with a lot of frustration. If the kid wants to dance, I'll let him dance his heart out, but why push him that way?
My pitches were a little more boyish. I first pitched girls' softball, but wasn't season, and plus it sounded dirty to Kitty. She turned down the Saturday Morning Youth Bowling league for the same reason (come on, what kid doesn't wanna get up at 8 on a Saturday to throw heavy, oily objects? in an underground alley that hasn't been updated since the 70's? "Bad for the skin," Kitty scoffed.)
I made a bit of a push for martial arts: I get the sense it would really appeal to Dylan to learn some self-defense techniques, and maybe - on the off chance we never get Dylan back in his rightful place - it will come in handy. Kitty, predictably, dismissed it as "learning to run around beating people up."
Then Kitty came back and made a case for Trailblazers, a local Girl Scouts-like organization (minus the cookies) that teaches life skills, does community events and yes, the occasional camping trip.
I gave it a "hmm." I didn't think Kitty would want our precious "daughter" getting dirty, skinned knees learning to start fires and forage for edible plants, but she said it could build character and socialize Dylan with "other girls." And as much as I don't want to push Dylan into adhering to anyone's pre-existing idea of what a girl is - especially not Kitty's - having her be around girls so she knows a bit more about how to behave in the skin the world sees her in is probably a good thing.
All right, I said. "But if she doesn't like it, we're back to jiu jitsu."