Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Coming Back To Understanding Hijab On Infants

thanks Jaxblunt and Karen for helping me begin to work this through

I think it begins with a wild
picture of ourselves. long ago -
memory - unfettered innocence
to guarded blades. dark,

billowing armor. we give our best
weapons to our children.
rummage about for what is
at hand. expedient.
tools we understand.

my boy. my self.
my man. my girl.
desire. repulse.
hold dear this precious
hard won wisdom.

model our wishes
and praise. goslings lined
up. neat. so much fluff and fat,
a waddling toddling
tasty warm comfort.
the hunter sights

we hear him behind every bush.
we never let him shoot.

My Son - The Teacher

There is sun again. But, we are learning
to live without its daily dazzle.
Puddles. Drizzles open new discussions
for knowledge to come seeping into our lives.

Slowly we return inward
to practice our quiet
dance of discovering
the world. The eldest
has returned to The States

and she will be chasing education
as we amble along waiting for our
opportunities. He misses her.
It is another thing to learn -

how we are sunrises and sunsets
coming and coming again.
The blackberries grow riper
each week. We marvel
how what once were
flowers are now fruit.

We've returned
to our old haunts.
Abney Park Cemetery,
Haggerston Park with our pond
and farm. Today,

we didn't hurry down the street.
We stopped at every plate
to look at the letters and numbers.
He wants to do more "by self"
everyday. He pushes me farther away.
I ease deeper into observation
as he informs me what all of the markings are.
Questions are exciting.
We are beginning to have

conversations. Complex. Arrows
are fascinating symbols.
Wheelchair icons as well.
We have something fresh
to talk about. Numbers and letters
are old now. But, we are not quite ready

to read. I am beginning to put together
his clues and hints. Value
his inner sense. Allow him
to lead me deeper into this
frightening thick miasma
of autonomy. Draining dry
this exhilarating brilliant freedom
of learning rather than teaching.

Note: Today was a day of epiphanies. My brash American personality got me put on "moderated" status on an email list. While this first saddened me, I moved past that emotion to feeling somewhat vexed and finally into a place of peaceful acceptance.

While Winston and I meandered the streets of sunny London today, I realized that at first I was saddened because I wanted to connect with like-minded people. I was also saddened to have been so drastically misunderstood. This passed as I accepted the fact that I can not sit with someone while they read my email and answer questions. And I am not responsible for someone's misreading. Nor am I responsible for telling them to ask questions.

Then I noticed - to quote myself from a post to the same list - "It is a good thing to be rubbed up the wrong way. It means there is something deep within oneself which is still calling to be noticed, recognized and dismissed." And I began to understand that I needed to look at this feeling. So, I let my opinions of the group's moderator and several alpha females slide away. I stood with the idea of being angry at a bunch of strangers for a moment. And I began to see how silly this was.

I was angry because I had been sad. Again - I can not make people understand me. But - more importantly - if someone wants to be where they are - then they will be there no matter how much you invite them to see things from a new perspective. And they have a choice to not see things in an manner they choose. And I can respect that - no need to waste time trying to persuade them otherwise...move on.

And over me came that peaceful acceptance. I understood now - finally - that I had been holding onto an idea that we shared common ground. But, people share common ground all the time in the most literal sense and they don't even notice the person next to them. Just because someone home educates does not mean they have a deep and abiding commitment to the pursuit of knowledge. Not everyone feels supported by engaging in constructive dialog. More people would rather resist change than embrace it. More likely, people will go out of their way to avoid trying new things and thinking new thoughts. And finally - not all people have done the inner work necessary to step back from an issue and see that everything isn't personal - even during discussions regarding our deepest, most vulnerable hopes and fears - the well-being of our children and this world which often doesn't have their best interests at heart.

And I can accept that - in spite of the fact that some of the best support I've ever had was from people who disagreed with me, carried on a hearty debate or just plain gave me their thoughts with no apologies.

What I have come to learn - over time - is that if something is a "truth" for an individual then that is what it is. If it not my "truth," I shrug my shoulders and move on. We connect. We don't connect. And it is the connection with people of exceptional quality that has taught me sometimes teaching is learning and vice versa. But, most times, it is those exceptional people who are able to allow their 'truths" to overlap, merge and become singular again.

Thanks Cave Canem, Highland Park Playgroup, Usual Suspects and Havehbier for letting me live in a space where disagreement is a delightful discovery. Where it is not threatening, offensive, rude or insufferable. Thanks for standing with me on our common ground and creating a lush garden where people can speak clearly and without apology about their opinions, thoughts and beliefs. Thanks for listening and allowing me to hear you in return. It is a most joyful thing to be fully present in our process. This is what I remember about community.