Who Moved My Child?

Author:Kershner, Ivan

You, like us, may describe yourself in a new way: a PIT ("parent in transition"). Perfectly normal. Unexpected, unplanned, challenging, and expanding, but perfectly normal. The new normal.

In 1998 Dr. Spencer Johnson published a small book titled, Who Moved My Cheese? Simply written, the book was meant to guide and support individuals who were going through unanticipated and unsettling transitions in their work and life. After reading the book I felt I had internalized the message: we all have our cheese moved from time to time; get on with life.

Recently my wife and I learned that our oldest son--a former combat Marine, an electrical engineer with a PhD in business administration and business psychology, a father of two sons, and a divorcee after fourteen years of marriage--was transitioning into a she. So much for moved cheese!

As concerned and caring parents, we asked ourselves the following questions and answered each [Spoiler alert!] in the absolute affirmative:

  1. Do you love your son? YES.

  2. Do you want your son to be happy? YES.

  3. Is your son happy? YES.

Simply put, that's all that matters. Everything else branches out from there. Themes and variations.

I am a poet, so I prefer words and ideas that convey visual imagery. I favor metaphors. Here's mine for how to think of a transitioning child: You're of an age that encourages you to get up from bed each night and go to the bathroom. Over time you've learned the pathway to the bathroom by heart and are quite certain you could (and perhaps do) tend to your business with your eyes closed and return to bed without ever stumbling or bumping into furniture. Now, imagine this: after you drift off to sleep, and before your bladder wakens you, somebody sneaks into your house and totally rearranges your furniture and even the location of your bathroom. As you semi-awaken and get out of bed to go on your memorized nightly journey, you begin to run into things, stumble over unknown obstacles, cannot find light switches, nor even locate the bathroom. That, my reader, is what it's like to have your child initially explain to you that the "he" or "she" you had raised and thought you knew was now becoming the opposite gender.

Examples of furniture being moved? Talking with your soon-to-be daughter about the effects and expectations of hormone therapy that will assist in the physical re-contouring of the angular male body into the gentler female figure. Voice coaching to learn how to speak in a...

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