10 Things · Family

10 Movies I Forced My Kids to Watch

Welcome to the inaugural post of my “10 Things” feature. I’ve been searching for something that will bring a different perspective to the blog. While Friday Fuzz focuses on transgender and gender issue related topics, our family is more than just the family with the transgender kid. My goal is for people to get to know us better since I’ve been told I’m very guarded. We will see!

10 Movies I Forced My Kids to Watch

Yes, as my children were growing up until as recent as last month, I have forced them to watch movies they otherwise wouldn’t have seen. I wasn’t trying to punish them or anything. I really thought they would enjoy the movies, for one reason or the other. The hidden bonus in making them watch these movies is that they sparked on so many conversations, not just the day of the movie, but for years to come. We talked about pop culture, the way society has changed since their dad and I were growing up, family stories from way back in the 70’s and 80’s, and how things related to their lives now. imagesCFPPVFOZ

1. The Breakfast Club (1985)- I cannot remember the first time we watched this together. I do remember telling them that we did not condone getting high in the school library and destroying school property…..or getting Saturday detentions. This movie is a classic and it truly stands the test of time. My kids immediately embraced it and it has become one of their favorites. Andrew shared it recently with his girlfriend, who to his horror, had never seen it.untitled (3)

2. The Bad News Bears (1976) – Both my husband and I had fond memories of this movie. Apparently our memories were from the point of view of a child and not as a parent because when we sat down to watch it with the kids (the 1976 Walter Matthau/Tatum O’Neal version in all its glory) we had to quickly pause the video to make disclaimers and explain why we thought this was suitable viewing matter for children. They were approximately 12, 9, and 6 around this time. To this day, I’m not sure we adequately explained the suitability factor.

This was when we came up with our own mantra that carries on until today- A-C-T, which stands for Approve, Condone, Tolerate. My kids quickly learned that the minute we began, “We do not approve, condone or tolerate any behavior….”

It was one of their first looks into how different the world was now compared to the 70’s. Kids swear, adults drink and smoke. Yes. But in movies, kids do not swear like that and the responsible baseball coach does not bring his beer to practices. He also does not pile kids into his convertible with no seat belts while drinking his beer as he drives. Do I even have to say it? My kids LOVED it.untitled (4)

3. Mr.Mom (1983)- Michael Keaton and Teri Garr. Taking it for the silliness that it was, it went over really well with the kids. The only touchy part was when the dad had to take away Kenny’s woobie (his blanket). I was afraid my blankie boy, Andrew, would fear that we were going to take his blanket away. We didn’t but that’s a post for another day.

4. The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)- Molly Brown and the Titanic have always interested me for as long as I can remember. The year we were heading to Denver on vacation, we watched this movie because I really wanted to visit the Molly Brown house and I figured if the kids were familiar with her story they would get on board with the idea. Since Michael was obsessed with the Titanic when he was younger, I hoped his enthusiasm would grab Kris and Andrew. No go. They don’t remember watching the movie. They don’t remember going to the house in Denver. Nothing. Oh well, you win some. You lose some.untitled (2)

5. The Music Man (1962)- While I introduced my kids to some movies because they were favorites of mine, others had a specific reason in mind, such as #4 and this one. Kris and Andrew would attend a musical summer day camp and after the first year when the play was Fiddler on the Roof, I realized that they enjoyed it much more if they were familiar with the story and music. Kris was about 10 and Andrew was 7 or almost 8. Having watched a very young little Ron Howard playing the part of Winthrop, Marian the librarian’s little brother, Andy went into auditions mimicking Winthrop’s lisp instantly earning him the part. He made his performing debut on a stage in front of a packed auditorium and blew us away. That sparked off a string of classical musical watching that continues. The results have been mixed- Oklahoma is a winner where as Carousel got mixed reviews.

6. The Sound of Music (1965)- I had such hopes for this movie and all were unrealistic. I had memories of huddling around the tv set with my sisters and brother and watching this movie. We had to take advantage of the once a year opportunity since this was before the days of VCRS, DVDS and DVRS. I remember the treats we would have and laying on the floor together after fighting over who was laying in the middle and who got stuck on the outside ends. What I didn’t remember was how incredibly long this movie is or if I might be honest here, how slow the 2nd half is. In fact, we had to watch this movie in 2 sittings because the kids were antsy when we hit the halfway mark. As we watched the 2nd half, I didn’t even remember most of it, leaving me to wonder if, as kids, we always fell asleep before the end.untitled (6)

7. The Blue Lagoon (1980)- Have you seen this one? Brooke Shields. Christopher Atkins. Nudity. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I sat down to watch this one with my then 17ish year old daughter (who was actually Kris). Michael and Andrew were not included in this viewing. If you’re not familiar, you need to find some clips on YouTube. I definitely do not remember the underwater scenes where you see the startlingly clear outline of Christopher Atkin’s quite male physic with nothing left to the imagination. Awkward!! The punchline of this one- to this day Kris maintains that it is one of his all time favorite movies!! Go figure. (I still blush at the thought of Christopher Atkins naked.)

8. Beaches (1988)- I don’t know what I was thinking with this one. It was another Mom and Kerri viewing. I honestly thought Kerri would love Bette Midler’s character- CC Bloom. I really do love this movie. What I didn’t count on was how much Barbara Hershey’s character, Hillary, dying would upset Kerri. To this day, Kris is so mad at me for this movie. I learned my lesson about the importance of spoilers with this one.

9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)- This would be the time I forced my entire family to watch a movie that I myself had not seen in 20+ years and I probably should have reacquainted myself with it before doing so. I did not realize that my husband had not seen the movie. What was he doing while all the rest of us were going to those midnight shows in the early 80’s? Kris and Andrew were teenagers when I decided we should watch it. Michael was not around for this. As I stated in an earlier post, this is highlighted as one of the two most traumatizing times in Andy’s life. I think it still ranks pretty high in my husband’s list too! Kris, in contrast, loved it. And I did too. Live and learn, right?

10. Last but not least, When Harry Met Sally (1989)- I know it probably wasn’t completely appropriate for them but compared to some of the other movies they were subjected to, this one did no harm and they genuinely enjoyed it. They had been seeing bits and pieces for years because like Pride and Prejudice (which I have not forced on them) I insist on watching it when I see it’s on. I had shared the Sharper Image scene with them years ago because they were doing Oklahoma at summer camp and I thought they would get a kick out of it. They did. And they really did like this movie too. What’s not to love? Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are the best together! This is one of my all time favorite movies.


There are so many others- Moonstruck, Dirty Dancing, Pretty in Pink, Sleepless in Seattle….. I would like to think I did more good than harm in making my kids watch these movies. I know I exposed them to bits of the past that they otherwise wouldn’t have encountered. And I see the tradition continuing as Michael recently shared The Brave Little Toaster with CJ for the first time!

Have you “forced” your kids to watch any movies? And if so, what kind of response did you get?


Color My World

“Color My World” by Chicago

I’m taking the liberty of modifying this to a song that reminds me of my husband since I’ve been married forever.

Every time I hear this song, I’m reminded of my husband. It’s the song that plays in our wedding video and it always brings that day to mind. It seems like a lifetime ago.

When you first get married, you have no clue. Especially if you are young and still have growing up to do. You choose this person who you think you want to spend the rest of your life with, not knowing what lies ahead. You don’t know how either of you will handle any crises you encounter or how you will deal with them together. You don’t know how much work marriage takes. There is so much you don’t know. And if you’re lucky, you’ve chosen well and it all works out.

I’ve been one of the lucky ones. My husband has been a constant. He loves us. He cares for us. Through the years we have encountered many difficulties and he has never wavered. When one of us stumbles, we help each other up.

There’s something about this song. Maybe it’s the way it’s so steady and predictable and nice. It paints a pretty picture of a loving relationship that endures. It reminds me of him and I’m lucky to have such a loving husband.

25 Songs, 25 Days: Day 14- A song that reminds you of your boyfriend.


Family · Friday Fuzz · Gender

Friday Fuzz: A Word from Kris

My Friday Fuzz feature has returned with a very special guest post. Please let me introduce you to my son, Kris. The piece that I’m featuring is one that he actually posted on Facebook right after he came out to us 3 years ago. It is completely 100% his words- not a single mom edit. I’m one of those mom’s that won’t touch her kids’ writing unless expressly asked. I have two serious writers and I know that we, writers, are a sensitive bunch.

The reason that this piece speaks so much to me is because although it seems to be quite simple with content but nothing extremely deep, the more I read it, the more I see the small glimpses of Kris’s heart in there. Even though he is there exposing something incredibly personal, he’s still guarded with what he does share. He’s holding back, protecting his heart and his inner being.

This makes me sad because three years later, he’s still holding back, hiding in the shadows, not letting people know him. (People translates to “family”.) I had the opportunity to talk frankly with Michael, my oldest son about this. Yes, he notices that at those functions Kris is always by himself, in the corner, unless one of us is with him. Three years later and he still doesn’t feel comfortable with the people he’s known his entire life.

I am using this piece with his permission so without further ado, here’s Kris-

Me! by Kristoffer on Tuesday, August 8, 2011

Hi everyone who decided to read this. I bet you’re wondering why I’m Kris on Facebook. I’ll tell you the whole story, from when it starts up to today.

When I was a kid, I would play pretend all the time. It was pretty much how I spent my life. In all of my childhood fantasies and in every story I wrote, I was a boy. I was myself and I was a boy.

Somewhere in there, I started going on Habbo, an online thing for tweens, and there I posed as a boy. I was never more comfortable than I was when I was on Habbo. I felt like I was myself when I said I was a boy.

I don’t know when I fully realized that, but I had it pretty figured out by eighth grade. I had no problem dressing and acting like a girl, but a part of me always knew I was a boy. I first came out to a few people that year , about being a guy trapped in a girl’s body. I had no clue what it meant. I nevver heard of it existing.

Then, in the summer following eighth grade, I went to the library and came across a book with a weird acronym as its title. LGBTQ, it said, and I had no clue what it meant. I checked the book out and read it cover to cover. That is when I first discovered I am transgender.

I came out to some of my friends, and the world didn’t end. I came out to my parents, and they didn’t react much. They said they’d support and love me no matter what.

During high school, my hair was pretty long, but I tried cross-dressing once, failing miserably.

I basically told myself to be a girl since it’s the body I was stuck in. I started getting my hair cut short. I got it cut shorter and shorter each time, until I realized what I was doing. I didn’twant a short hairstyle. I wanted to be a boy. I didn’t want to think that was it though. Every time I got my hair cut shorter, I thought I was more and more attractive.

I didn’t fully realize what I can do until the end of my senior year. I finally said enough’s enough and decided to stop pretending I’m a girl when I’m a guy. I told people I would cross-dress, alnd they all told me that all girls wear guys’ clothes, and it’s true. They make men’s clothing more comfortable. But I would be wearing men’s clothes for a different purpose: to be a guy.

The summer started and it finally started to sink in that I’m a guy. My mom bought me some mens clothes, and I haven’t been able to wear womens clothes since. I got some mens deodorant and I seriously can’t stop sniffing my armpits. It’s great. But anyways, I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable now that I’ve accepted myself.

The next step is having other people accept me. I’ve been a guy all my life. I’ve been forced to act like a girl by others but mostly by myself. I’m still me. I’m exactly the same person I have been all my life. You’re just learning something new about me.

I’ve been going out in public dressed as a guy, to express my gender. I have, for the most part, been passing very well. I’m not confident enough to go in the men’s room yet, but I went in there my first time out in public, and I got no weird looks. I’ll do it again some day.

Now, for those of you who care about my feelings, here is how you can effectively not insult me!

  • Refer to me as a male. Use my preferred pronouns: he, his, him
  • Please don’t call me dude or bro if you don’t call all other guys dude and bro.
  • If you don’t want to call me Kristoffer or Kris, just don’t refer to me with a name.
  • When I pass in public, don’t laugh or point out that I’m a girl. I want people to see me for who I see myself as.
  • That said, never out me. I’m a guy.
  • Don’t mention my private parts or the private parts I’m lacking. I don’t like being in this body. Don’t remind me of it.
  • Take me seriously. I may not act serious, but I am. I joke because I’m scared of making people uncomfortable. I really am serious though.
  • If you don’t know if something will insult me, ask me. I’ll be less insulted if you ask than if you just say it and it turns out to be hurtful!
  • Feel free to ask me anything you’re confused about.

As far as transitioning goes, I want to start on testosterone (T) soon,and then later on, I plan on getting top surgery, then bottom surgery.

Thank you to everyone who read this all the way through.


Family · Gender

Rambling Thoughts at 3:00a.m.

Why is it you have your most lucid thoughts late at night when you are supposed to be asleep?

I suspect this might take on more of the tone of a rant than a rambling. Instead of being that startlingly clear thought that I usually have just seconds before falling asleep only to try to recreate it by the light of day, this has nagged at me for awhile. And tonight it just won’t let go. When it has come to mind in the past- not quite formed….just a random thought… I could think about it, mull it over, write it in my head and fall asleep, probably in the middle of my most brilliant sentence. That is not the case tonight.

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Not long ago I had a conversation with a transgender friend about what her expectations were when she came out to her family. She said that she was the same person she had always been and if they could not love her upon finding this out, then how genuine had that love been before? So simple yet so very true.

Over the weekend we went to visit my husband’s parents. My mother-in-law asked about Kris and somehow we wandered off the topic of Kris’s new job and onto some of the online support groups to which I belong. She sat her back straight and stiff against her chair, arms folded across her chest. In a very firm voice she announced, “We love Kris and support him fully. I’m so glad that you have groups and people to talk to about this.”  I paused, taking in the look on her face, the finality of her words hitting me full force. This conversation was over. ****And this afternoon when I mentioned this conversation to my oldest son, Michael, he said the message was pretty clear.

A friend has been working on a letter to her family to explain that her son is non binary transgender. After sharing it, she received a carefully worded and somewhat guarded response from one person and nothing from the other. It caused me to have flashbacks to my own experiences with my sisters over the past 3 years. imagesPAAV0294

As I was messaging back and forth with her, it happened. I looked at the words that I wrote to her in response to hearing about her family’s reaction to a letter that she had taken so much time and care to write. Oh my goodness! I really wonder sometimes. To me, regardless of what’s going on, this is a time when the family bond should overrule everything and it shouldn’t matter what it is. You didn’t confess to your child committing mass murders. Support and acceptance should be instantaneous. This isn’t the time for carefully worded sentences.”

I snapped.

I was sick of it all! So incredibly sick of it!

Over the past three years I have shared exchanges, read posts and listened to the experiences of parents telling their families about their transgender children. I have felt their anxiety as they wrote and re-wrote letters, asking for feedback from us, other moms of transgender kids, in the safe places we have found with each other where we can share our honest feelings and know that we are among friends. I know the feeling of pouring out your heart to people who you think love you unconditionally only to find out that there were conditions on that love after all.

I mean, what the hell? I don’t know what I was thinking. They loved Kris when he was Kerri, screwed up beyond words, on the verge of suicide, not living an authentic life. Then he began this incredible journey to become himself. When he presented himself to those trusted people- the ones who had held him as a baby, the cousins who grew up with him and played with him…..when he shared his most precious inner self with them, they stopped loving him? I’m sure they would say that they do love him. I would have to ask, Is this how you show love? By looking through him? Pretending he doesn’t exist? By not accepting him?

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Do they have any idea what it took for us to share Kris with them? What it took for Kris to share himself with them? Unlike everyone else who they just accept as they are, FLAWS AND ALL- Kris was being held to a completely different standard. He had conditions placed on him. He had to come out the way they wanted and then he had to proceed to handle himself the way they expected him to. It did not matter that he needed to know that they accepted him as who he really was- that he needed what they all give everyone else without a second thought. Nope. His feelings were never considered throughout the past three years. And the more protective I became of him…..his dad and brothers became of him, the more rigid and closed they became. I have gotten the feeling that they are even more upset with me for wrapping my arms around my child and holding him close, that we closed ranks and stuck together, us 7.

It should not take three years for them to determine how they feel, to show support, to BE THERE. If the situation was reversed and it was my niece or nephew, although I might be shocked and need time to process it, like my own experience with Kris, all of that would be pushed back so that I could show love for the child and I would want to be sure to support the child’s parent.

So, here I am, sleepless,wondering if I’ve done something wrong, maybe expected too much from them. But then I think of how this has all fallen to me and Kris since the first time I told my parents and siblings about him. I feel as if every single move has been mine and if I didn’t promptly fall down at their feet in gratitude for the not even half-hearted attempts they made, I had wronged them yet again.

What about that kid they said they loved? He’s still here needing their love more than ever.

untitled (16)Love has to come first and if it does, the rest will work itself out.


Baby Face

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The most interesting person I’ve met in 2014 is someone I have yet to meet. I don’t know what he looks like. The few pictures I have seen have not been the best quality although it’s easy to see a profile and the little fist he presents in the picture is crystal clear. He is an enigma to us all.

Instead of the early nudges and flutters, he let his presence be known by flipping around when he’s not curling up in a ball and playing possum. He has been causing his mommy to have hiccups on and off throughout the day for months now. Although we won’t meet him for another two months, when Mommy is sitting still, I watch in amazement as her entire belly does a shift. And if I put my hand on it and start speaking, he rolls up into his ball again, pretending he can’t hear me. It’s a game he plays with me. He is most responsive to his big brother’s voice and the weight of him pressing down on top of his warm dark habitat. He is very sensitive to things his mommy eats. He does not like spicy food and has been known to startle into a full body jerk when she eats it. She describes it as feeling like he threw his arms and legs straight out. Sometimes he appears to be practicing his karate moves and other times he’s doing somersaults. Like most at this age, he is most active when Mommy is resting and takes great naps when she’s busy. steven791

If any of this is indicative of his personality, he will be quite a character. I cannot wait for our new little grandchild to arrive!

Writing 101: A Character-Building Experience- Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.