pollychromatic

the world through rainbow eyes


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The Herd of Gazelles at the Bus Stop

Pi and Phi are 5 now. They attend Kindergarten (two different classes so they can both shine their stars individually as bright as possible). They both insisted that they are old enough to ride the bus to school, and because the bus is actually available to them now that they are in Kinder, I agreed. So they ride the bus to school every school day morning. 

I drop them off and watch them interact at the bus stop with the other kids. They’re the only Kinder kids in our little neighborhood, so mostly the big kids are leaving them alone and letting them run around like animals waiting for the bus. 

Run around they do, too. Every single day, they drop their packs in the bus shelter and then have races from one sign to the other. About 200 feet of a race they do over and over until the bus gets there. Squealing, rambunctious, and overall dorky. Phi runs with his hands clutched high to his sides, a bit like a T-Rex. A smile of pure happiness. His feet hit the ground with the strange, awkward, delicate gait so familiar to other parents who have children on the spectrum. Toes pointed down, still somewhat clompy somehow. Like an elephant doing ballet. So happy.

Pi’s arms are thrown back and her clomping hits whole foot down, her face also has the same smile. So happy. She is a gazelle. 

The other kids are mostly silent while Pi and Phi enact these daily races. Pi and Phi encircle them, run between them, around them, near them. You can see the other kids pull back, stare at them. I want to tell Pi and Phi to chill. Be cool. The kids are judging them. I keep my mouth shut. One kid does a mock tiptoe of Phi to his other friends, and they cover their mouths to smile behind their hands. They know better than to laugh where parents can see them. Phi doesn’t notice, just keeps running. Keeps being happy. 

I want to scream at these kids. You think it’s awesome that you can run better than him? Running is hard for him. He’s a different animal. You are gazelles, and he is an elephant. His squealing trumpet of glee comes from a differently shaped throat than your own. Is it such a point of pride that yours was shaped different? Do you work for hours to make your gazelle throat shape the sounds that all the other gazelles make? 

No he does not have grace. What he has, instead, is hard work. He has perseverance. Thank goodness that’s part of the package with Autism. The same thing that makes him line up puzzles for hours is what makes it possible for him to make words that others understand. He works past the point of wanting to stop. I am furiously proud of his words. 

I remember his testing, and them asking us for a list of his words. For a week we tried to put together even ten words that he said at the age of 18 months. Duck. Ball. … Umm.. Daddy? We struggled to find any words that he had actually said. Now, at age 5, his vocabulary is huge. He inherits the wide breadth of spoken word that his father and I use daily, and it shows. 

But the kids at the bus stop don’t see that he is a hard working elephant stuck in the land of the graceful gazelles. They see that he is not part of their herd. They close ranks. 

So he runs with Pi. Pi who doesn’t care, yet, about gazelles and elephants. All animals are different to her. She takes it in stride. 

I want the other kids at the bus stop to see what she sees. I want them to feel the pure joy that he feels. 

I’m proud of my mismatched animals, and so furious at the herd that closes them both out. I know that in their classes there are other mismatched animals, and they find them and befriend them. The herd at the bus stop is not their whole world of experience, but only a small window onto it. 

I also know that the herd at the bus stop is going to grow. That as they get bigger, it will become more and more evident how different they both are to the herds they encounter. Him for his everything, and her for her acceptance of these things and for her own differences. That the ruthlessness of peers will run their world for the next fifteen some odd years. There is not a thing I can do to change it. 

I know that they are going to spend their lives collecting their own herds of mismatched animals. I hope they do not spend too long trying to assimilate into herds that are not their own and do not accept them. I also feel sad for the limited scope of the herd of gazelles at the bus stop. They have not yet learned the value of the different animals. I hope they learn it someday. 


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Equal

I am a feminist.

I am a feminist because I have no choice. I was born a cis-gendered woman, and have lived my life as a woman happily. This makes me intimately aware of what women face on a daily and even hourly basis.

I like to hope that was I born a cis-gendered man, or a transwoman, or a transman, that I would still have found a home in feminism. I can’t know that I would have. I have evidence to support that I would; the fact that I am sensitive to other forms of oppression says that I would have. How do I know that I would be sensitive if I had not struggled with misogynistic oppression, though?

Or maybe it’s being born in the third generation of women in my family who were pioneers in feminism; women who were fearless in striding forward where ever they chose rather than what their culture chosen roles would be.

Maybe it’s the result of have 5 blood related aunts and absolutely no blood related uncles that makes my heart beat in a rhythm that is feminist at heart.

Or maybe it’s simply holding my son and daughter both together in my arms as newborn infants and seeing no difference for their future that I can discern simply by the happenstance of their genitalia, yet watching the changing way people address my daughter and son as their sex becomes a known quantity. They start to call her “pretty.” They start to call him “smart.”

Perhaps that is when feminism settled deep into my bones.

So when the question is posed to me, “what is feminism,” the only answer that I can reply with is that it is the simple belief that woman are equal to men.

And that’s it. Feminism is a statement that women are equal to men, and to correct inequality where it exists.

Both my daughter and my son deserve such a future.


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Dare

The hearings began today.

I’m having a hard time with the space between my cynicism and my optimism.

I don’t have anything eloquent or composed to say. Better writers than me are writing. Better speakers than me are speaking.

So, I’m not going to try to say anything unique or beautiful. I’m not going to try to change your mind if you somehow hold the strange position that anyone else’s love does anything but make the world a better place. I can’t imagine how difficult your world must be if you do believe that, really.

I’m not going to talk about those who once opposed marriage equality changing their minds once they realized that it was an issue that touched the people they loved. I’m not going to talk about whether that’s too little too late, or if it’s an evolution of thought that is needed, or even if it’s both.

I’m not going to talk about those I love who have had bigotry rule their life and choices.

I’m not going to talk about the double standards of people who have divorced their dying spouses so they could remarry quicker than their spouse could die who stand up and talk about sanctity of marriage and how they believe that someone else simply loving another person enough to want to share their whole life with them in any possible way threatens that sanctity.

I’m not going to talk about the separation of church and state that is such a valued treasure to my Constitution while others simultaneously talk about their valued treasure of the 2nd Amendment and how they believe we need more church in our state for the good of the public welfare.

I’m not going to talk about those who have been killed or killed themselves because our culture so hates all things queer.

I’m not going to talk about my own sexuality, and why I call myself queer.

I’m not going to talk about love.

I’m not even going to talk about hope.

I’m just going to do it.

I’m going to hope. I’m going to dream. I’m going to believe that it is possible that the world is changing. I’m going to dare.

Do you dare with me?