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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Utopia. Star Trek. SF Bay Area. Being a child of the 70’s.

I am a child of The Future. Don’t mistake that for me thinking that I’m somehow more advanced, or that I am misplaced in my generation. More that the surroundings and influences that were part of my formative years were those of people or things heavily invested in the ideas of a technologically, sociologically, and scientifically advanced “Future.”

I was born in the East San Francisco Bay Area to heavily geeky parents in the beginning parts of the 1970’s.  My mother worked in science and technology labs, and eventually in the computer industry. My father also was heavily into the computer industry.

I don’t really quite remember our first home computer. I can’t say we were necessarily the first adopters, but it feels like there has always been one around. My elementary school classes included lessons in Basic and Hello World is a touchstone for me in the classical sense.

Our converted garage held the local High School’s computer lab during the Summer. My brother and sister both have gone on to careers in the IT industry, having been in it early enough that it easily led to such for people with their talents and intellects.

We were also readers, gamers, fantasy and sci-fi lovers much as you’d expect.

Star Trek was watched faithfully in our home (it’s original airing having ended right about the time I was born, we were mostly watching syndicated broadcasts, though I do believe the original broadcasts were most likely watched by my family).

Next Generation was playing when I was in my very late teens and early 20’s.

This is me trying to work through some thoughts I’ve been having, you see. So, if you’re looking for a thread to follow, there isn’t one as of yet. Perhaps there never will be. It’s just some thought patterns.

What I know is that I was introduced to the idea of post-capitalism exceptionally early. Starfleet and it’s utopian future are even sort of part of my geographical cultural heritage, coming from the Bay Area as I do.

My thought processes are intricately tied to the idea of a space exploration, scientific and technological innovation and utopia.

Not really going anywhere with this as of yet, as I mentioned. Just sketching.