In one week, your mom and dad will be having a party announcing your gender to the world, and I guess that means you'll stop being my niecephew and start being my niece or nephew. At least until you're old enough for us to have a conversation with the words "cisgender" and "genderqueer" involved.
Little CZ or DZ, your mom and dad have been writing you letters since that first blobby ultrasound and I thought, just before we find out what sort of equipment you're packing, I might try my hand at the same.
As one ZumMallen to another, I want to talk to you about your last name.
Here are the downsides to that name:
- There are none
Sometimes (most of the time) people are going to say things to you like "Wow, that's really hard to spell, isn't it?" and "Don't you hate having to spell it out for people all the time?" and "Isn't it annoying to be at the end of the alphabet?
- Your last name will actually be super easy for YOU to spell because you'll do it all the time, thus singling yourself out as one of the best spellers in your age group pretty early on.
- Spelling out your last name every single time you meet someone new means you are unique and special and - trust me - unforgettable. You also get to start sentences with cool phrases like "Z as in Zebra."
- Your whole life, you'll know that anytime someone starts to call out names alphabetically, you don't have to pay attention at least until they get to the T's.
- Plus, you can skip all that mess by saying "Just look in the back, that last one's me" and it will work every. single. time.
Here is the most magical thing about your last name:
- The Z-Force
Your great- and great-great aunts came up with this and we all like to think it's pretty accurate. When this side of the family gets together, the crowd is smaller than it seems, louder than should be possible, and filled with so much laughter it feels like whatever small space is trying to hold everyone is about to explode.
The Z-Force doesn't mean you don't get scared or that you don't doubt yourself. It's that little piece of you that tells all those bad thoughts to sit down, shut up, and let you have a great time.
It means being mouthy and occasionally fearless and sometimes regretting what you've said or done.
It means being brave enough to admit that regret, to accept responsibility and apologize.
There are things that I wish for you, that have nothing to do with your name or a silly made up word, things that I think everyone wants for a new little person entering their family, things that a lot of people don't get or can't find.
I hope you don't know what fear is until you're old enough to write your own ghost stories.
I hope you know that bravery is not the absence of fear, but the ability to do what's right despite being scared.
I hope you learn how to properly use your middle finger (Grandma Dean can teach you).
I hope you know that choosing not to swear is a courtesy, not a weakness.
I hope you know that swearing can be appropriate, because some statements require audible exclamation points.
I hope shame is something dealt by strangers and healed by family.
I hope you never feel alone, even when no one else is around.
I hope you never hesitate to try something new, something old, something weird, something "un-cool."
I hope you never learn what "boy things" or "girl things" are and just do "you things."
I hope you know how loved you are and how cherished when all we know about you is that you exist somewhere we can't yet reach.
I hope you know your parents and your aunts and your grandparents think the pictures of you so far are adorable and gorgeous, your little toes and your tiny nose, and can't wait to meet you.
I hope you know that while I can't read an ultrasound and so far as I know you might actually BE a toe or a nose or an eldritch horror from the center of the earth, I think you're gorgeous anyway.
I hope you know that bad hair days and old clothes and braces and zits will fade but the people who tease you for it will probably always be jerks.
I hope you learn that you can't control what the people around you do or say, but you CAN control how you react to them.
I hope you know that when you do get scared, when you do feel lonely, when you're ready to learn, when you want to talk, when you need a safe place to be, that you know exactly how many options you have and that you will always HAVE those options.
Little niecephew, we don't know you but we're excited to meet you and learn who you are and who you'll be, which I'm sure is a lesson you'll be teaching the rest of us quickly, loudly, and changing a little bit each day.
May the Z-force be with you.
(and may you still find that funny in 20 years)