A dog, a cat, a tortoise, two tweens, a teenager and working parents all running around – our house is an endless whirlwind of activity.
I teach high school science, while my wife works at a local community bank. Even though my life is dedicated to my children, at work and home, there are inevitably some things I won’t get, like their obsessions with new-age platforms like Tumblr and Snapchat. Regardless of whether we see eye-to-eye, I will always support and love them.
That love and support was needed last year when my oldest child, Myles, announced that he knew himself to be a boy. Up until then, we had always known him as a girl.
This long coming out process was first prompted in eighth grade when a counselor had let us know that Myles was struggling with personal issues. After getting help and starting to join support groups, Myles was finally able to put some labels to feelings he had since he was in fifth grade.
Despite my personal history as an active community volunteer and my involvement with social justice-minded friends, I quickly realized that the fight is different when it becomes personal. For one, you suddenly recognize how much you don’t know.
I wish I could have just flipped a switch and been able to offer 100% of what Myles needed from the start. But I did not really understand what being transgender meant and had to get comfortable being the student for a change. During this time, our family had to rely on open communication, education and support for one another.
Myles is now 15 and I see myself reflected in him more each day. Whether it is the stubborn stance he takes when he is about to tackle a new problem, his subtle smile he gets when he is listening to his favorite music or his exuberant laugh that echoes throughout the house when he is hanging out with his friends – I am continually impressed with the young man he is growing into.
Myles even turned the tables about a month ago when he was the one pushing me to volunteer more. When I teased him about it, he quipped, “What can you expect? I am my father’s son.”
Once I heard that, the words immediately made me smile. I may not understand everything, especially Myles’ love of Snapchat, but that will never stop me from loving and accepting my son.