OK, Zoomer

The following is a true fact: I am an Old. I have written before about how I’m at an age where I straddle the line a bit between Gen X and Millennials; my preferred nomenclature is the Oregon Trail Generation, but that’s not exactly what the cool kids call it. All that said, one thing I definitely am is Old. Yes, the oldest Millennials are old now. They have mortgages– some of them, anyway– and cars and kids and are starting to worry about paying for their college, and whether debt is going to be declared inheritable before they die.

Anyway. My wife and I were out doing some running around today, in two cars because one of the jobs involved bringing the last carload of stuff that we’re keeping back from my father-in-law’s apartment, and I told her that I was going to stop at a local gaming shop that is up by his place. The place is far enough away that if I drive past it I’m probably going to stop, just because I’m not up there very often. Anyway, I puttered around for a bit and decided to buy something and got behind a couple of high school-aged kids who were also checking out. Both of them, as it turns out, were buying card booster packs of some sort; Magic, I think, but I’m not sure and at any rate it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the booster packs were expensive, and I heard the cashier quote a hundred and seventeen dollars to one of the kids, who pulled a handful of twenties out of his pocket, counted them carefully, and handed them over, receiving his change in the expected fashion.

And then the whole world went sideways, as the kid looked at his friend and said “I love these things. The money doesn’t come out of my account, so it’s like I’m not really spending anything.”

There was a moment of frozen silence. The cashier, a man of about my age, made eye contact with me, as both of us realized at the same time that this young man had just used the construction these things to refer to twenty dollar bills as if they were some sort of exotic and rare form of shell- or bead-based barter, and I don’t think either of us really knew what to do for a second. The kid’s friend saw the look we shot each other and also saw that I was either having a stroke or trying not to laugh, and rolled his eyes at his friend without saying a word and ushered him out.

I walked to the counter and placed my purchase in front of the cashier.

“Credit or … these things?”, he said.

And then I ceased to exist.

On assistance, supernatural and otherwise

This post is mostly existential horror of some kind or another so here is a kitten.

I have a student in the hospital; it turns out that Covid-19 and sickle cell anemia are not, in fact, two great tastes that go great together. Those first seven words of the post are, at the moment, the sum total of my knowledge and I don’t know what kind of shape she’s in, beyond “bad enough that she’s in the hospital.”

I have never really believed that prayer or well-wishes or positive thoughts or anything like that actually held any power to change and/or fix anything, particularly in the lives of third parties, but if anybody has any spoons left to toss in the direction of a fourteen-year-old they’ve never met, I’m willing to be proven wrong.

You might remember Hosea, who I talked about a week or so ago. That post is rather down on Hosea as a human being, and while I didn’t write anything in there that I disagree with, one of the interesting things about the kid is that he’s also got a generous streak that, on the occasions when he allows it to surface, is a mile wide. The problem is that it doesn’t come out very often.

He stopped me at lunch today to ask me if I knew about the Gofundme he’d started. Oh God, I thought, because generally when someone starts a Gofundme it’s not because something wonderful has happened, and I have no idea why this kid might think that he needs money badly enough that he’s crowdfunding for it on the Internet. So I ask him what it’s for, and he tells me it’s “to improve the world,” and doesn’t really elaborate. It’s on Facebook, he says. I tell him I don’t have a Facebook account, but if he wants he can email me the URL and I’ll take a look at it.

And he does. And I do.

And this Gofundme starts off with this YouTube video, which I was able to watch until the point where the teacher tells her class “I’m going to step out for a minute” and just bounces, and then there’s his little spiel for his funding, which is literally that he wants to “make the world better.”

He wants ten thousand dollars.

There’s not, like, a plan or anything. Just, like, hey, “if you want to make the world a better place donate now!!” and yes, that’s a direct quote.

I, uh, don’t know what to do with this. He wants me to donate, of course, and I don’t want to be perceived as being against improving the world– I am, in fact, staunchly pro-improvement in all its facets– but, like, I’m not just going to hand this kid some money, am I? I mean, I could make a token contribution, I suppose, like, $5 or something like that; I don’t know if Gofundme works like Kickstarter does, where if you don’t hit your funding target you don’t get any of the money. And it’s not like the kid has any chance of hitting $10,000 short of some sort of bolt-from-the-blue viral explosion scenario. Plus, like, I don’t think 8th graders can even use Gofundme. That’s gotta be some sort of TOS violation, right?

Do I do anything else about it, though? Should I tell his mom or something? I mean, it’s not like it’s wrong for him to be trying to raise money to make the world a better place, and while it’s not necessarily any of my Goddamned business one way or the other, I feel like if my kid was trying to raise ten thousand bucks on the Internet even as a foolish and na├»ve expression of hope for the future, if some other adult I knew found out about it and didn’t let me know about it I might be a trifle peeved. I feel like if my kid is trying to get that kind of money from strangers, maybe as a parent that should be something I know about. But what if she knows? How the hell does that conversation go?

(For the record, this is also a bit of a Problem Parent, which complicates things. I don’t want the kid in trouble. I can imagine a world where this causes that.)

The best solution is probably to sit down with him for a few minutes and give him a better idea of what this site is actually for, and the idea that when you raise money you generally do it for something specific, possibly followed up with a promise to donate if he decides to do a fundraiser for the humane society or whatever rather than this nebulous “make the world better” thing.

(Thinking about this a bit more, how the hell do they give you the money if a Gofundme is successfully funded? This kid’s fourteen; surely he can’t have hooked up a bank account to the site or something. That’s the other “maybe notify Mom” detail; let’s say that hypothetically Hosea snookers four or five adults into donating money, and now he’s got $75 or whatever that Mom didn’t give him and when she asks he says the money is from his teachers? Christ.)

Advice or suggestions are welcome, obviously.

In which I shouldn’t post this

The last couple of days have been … well, downright pleasant at work, with no particular episodes of bullshit worth passing on. I took a video today of one of my more generally troublesome kids doing something both entertaining and mysterious; he appears to have the ability to blow smoke (well, water vapor, but it looks like smoke) out of his mouth more or less at will, and I recorded him doing it so that I can show it to my wife and have her science it and tell me what the hell he’s actually doing. I’d post it, but it’s somebody else’s kid, and the parent doesn’t know, and … eh, nah.

(Goes on YouTube)

Oh, here’s what he’s doing. I still want to know more about the science:

Anyway, yeah, it’s just like my life for me to decide I need to go on antidepressants again and then have two genuinely good days at work. Tomorrow, no doubt, will be a hell-nightmare, because I’ve posted this.

Turns out this isn’t complicated

Around a year ago, give or take, Instagram suggested I follow what was clearly a secondary account for one of my friends. It was a new account, with one picture on it, and in that picture my friend was wearing eyeshadow. My friend was not the type of person for whom randomly choosing to be photographed in eyeshadow was a terribly surprising thing, so I thought nothing of it and followed the account, then forgot all about it.

A few days later my friend’s wife texted me and asked if I had any questions about her — and this is the point where I can’t come up with a coherent way to not choose gendered words, so for the moment I’ll go with “husband,” because at the time that was the word I would have used– making the decision to transition.(*) Apparently that account wasn’t really meant for full public attention yet. Whoops! I laughed and said that I’d found it in suggestions and followed it and not thought about it for another single second and then went on to have the type of conversation that you typically have when an adult makes a decision like that.

My son is seven. He and their youngest son are just a couple of weeks apart in age, and have been best friends for more or less forever despite them having moved a couple hours away a few years ago. They regularly communicate via the Facebook Kids Messenger app and play Roblox together. My son is aware that his friend now has two moms, and has literally never asked a single question about it or displayed the slightest bit of confusion about it.

The other day I was sitting in my recliner while he was on the couch talking to his friend, and the iPad is loud, so it’s kind of hard to not overhear their conversations and I try to keep half an ear on him while he’s on the thing anyway just because, y’know, parenting. And I hear his friend tell him that he has decided to change genders and be a girl, and that he wants to use feminine pronouns now, and be known by a different name. And, well, I went from paying halfassed attention to listening carefully quick.

And … my son says “Okay,” and immediately starts arguing with her about whether “dude” is a gender-neutral term or not, and whether “dudette” is something that he should be using now, because that’s where his priorities lie, and went right back to playing Roblox.

Now, has he been great about not deadnaming his friend? No, he hasn’t– he’s pretty much sticking with “dude” most of the time, and I’ve definitely heard far more uses of the original name than the new one over the last couple of weeks. And there was a brief discussion between the two of them later about whether his friend could really be a girl or not, because girls can have babies and boys can’t. This led to the only parental intervention I’ve had to make in this entire process, where after they were done with the conversation I pulled him aside and explained the difference between gender and sex, to which he reacted by absorbing the information and shrugging and saying “Oh, okay.”

We were over at my parents’ house earlier this week and their family came up in conversation. My mom was aware of the parental transition but not the kid’s, and after a few minutes called my son into the room and asked him what he thought about it.

“Oh. Yeah, he changed genders. He’s a girl now.”

And that was the end of it. He was done talking.

So … okay, not great on pronouns, but he’s seven. It was as if his friend had changed favorite colors or something. In my son’s head, it’s no big deal.

This is the second time in a few weeks that my son has encountered the concept that people exist who are other than cis and straight, and just like the first time, he just rolled with it. And it’s not because either my (cis, straight) self or my wife’s (cis, straight) self are some sort of woke paragons of allyship. We aren’t. I’m pretty sure we’ve literally never had a direct discussion about sexual orientation with him. It’s because this isn’t actually all that complicated to explain to kids and because if kids see their parents treat something as normal they will too.

Some kids have two dads.

Some kids have two moms.

Sometimes men love men, and sometimes women love women, just like Mommy and Daddy love each other.

Sometimes people decide that they aren’t boys or girls anymore, and sometimes people decide that they’ve always been a boy or a girl and that it’s okay to let the world know that too.

“How do we explain this to our children?” is a cop-out, and it always has been. It’s just not that goddamn complicated. You just treat it like it is: normal.

Happy Pride Month, y’all.

(*) If at any point in this post I fuck up my phrasing, call me out on it and I’ll fix it.

On explaining gay people to your presumably straight kids

This just happened.

THE SCENE: We are watching the final episode of Season 2 of She-Ra. It is revealed that a character (no spoilers) has two dads.

THE BOY: Two dads?


ME: It happens.

THE BOY: Oh, okay.

End scene.