speaking up 4

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: sequelae. We don’t know what the sequelae to the Supreme Court vote is yet. But I am not going to stop speaking up and I hope more women speak up. And girls. So here are two experiences when I was a girl.

I start grade school in upstate New York. I am at the Northeast School. I don’t remember tons about it, except that it has ramps instead of stairs. I am failing to learn to read with phonics, which make no sense to me.

In first grade, I need to go to the bathroom. My teacher gives me a hall pass. This is not a kindergarten privilege.

Outside the girls’ bathroom are two boys. They are older than me. I don’t know them.

“You can’t go in unless you show us your underwear.”

I am wearing a dress. I stare at them.

“Show us your underwear.”

I go back around the corner and wait. Hoping they will leave. They don’t.

I need to go. I go and lift my skirt for a second, humiliation as they laugh. I hurry in to the bathroom.

I go back to the classroom.

I never go to the bathroom during class again. I am careful. I go before class starts and at lunch.

And I’ve never told anyone until now. And this was a grade school. How were the boys acculturated to behave this way already in grade school? And does this still go on? All the girls in my daughter’s school quit wearing skirts by second grade. Jeans only.

We move before fourth grade to another town.

The boundaries for the school districts change before sixth grade and I am bussed to a new grade school.

On the bus, a boy starts harassing me. I don’t know him.

“Show me your underwear.” he says. The other kids are watching.

I don’t answer, glare at him with scorn.

Each day he escalates.

“Show me your underwear.”

I pull a pair out of my bag the fourth day. “There. Now you’ve seen some.”

The other kids laugh, but it’s not enough. He keeps hassling me.

He starts reaching for my skirt from the seat in front of me.

I’ve had it. I play flute. But I also play piccolo.

The next day he starts up, “Show me your underwear.” He reaches towards my skirt from the seat in front. I have my hard piccolo case in both hands. I smash his hand as hard as I can, against the bus seat.

He screams and pulls his hand away, clutching it.

The bus driver looks in the mirror. He doesn’t slow down or stop.

The boy never bothers me again. And neither does anyone else on that bus.

____________________________________

I took the photograph when school started this year. This is our “city” bus. The Redhawks are our football team. I can’t think that football is good for us, but I thank the adults for this support for the high school students…..

Music gives me hope: this.

Container dream

I dream I am at a concert in a park. Or some very big event. With my significant other. It is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the grass is green, there are rolling hills and trees. People are arriving.

There is a gasp of horror. There is a large box, like the hold of a ship. We hurry to look in: there are three open containers down inside, tops removed. They are full of children. Smuggled? Immigrants? The containers are surrounded by water. My significant other and I drop our things and climb down the long hold ladder into the water, which is cold, filthy, and comes up to my thighs. I’ve kicked off my sandals. We are wading to the containers. An ICE agent in a black uniform, bullet proof vest, belt with tools and guns, and riot helmet, blocks me and says, “You have to be wearing shoes to help.” He is handing out plastic stretchers. He can’t see my feet. Yes, I know it’s dangerous and my feet could get cut, but this is probably sewage and dangerous even with shoes. We should really be in hazmat gear but the kids could be dying. I just look at him, silent, and he hands me a stretcher.

Enough people have come forward, into the water, that all the kids have been placed in one of the containers. None of them are dead. They are being lifted out one by one, to ambulances. Now the hold is surrounded by rubberneckers. I climb out and find my purse and camera and shoes. I am grateful no opportunist has stolen them. The ICE agents are telling people to back off and give them room to work. The news crews are there and a Washington State politician says, “This is Washington State, we will take care of these children, we will not see them separated and incarcerated, I will see that they are returned to their parents.” Good luck, I think, but at least there are tons of witnesses and cameras and news crews.

I need to find somewhere to scrub my legs down with soap and to find my significant other. It’s getting more crowded.

I wake up.

And what I notice is that the water did not stink and was not full of lumps of floating excrement. As I wake I hope that I won’t catch something horrible and die….usually my dreams have full sound, color and smells too. I wonder where the children were from, and why, and whether they had some sort of sanitation….

freedom

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt #76: freedom.

Immigrant children separated from parents and placed in “camps”. This is concentration camp, jail. They have not been returned to their parents: https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621065383/what-we-know-family-separation-and-zero-tolerance-at-the-border. This is a horror committed by my country. Return the children to their parents.

The deer were in the empty lot across the street from my clinic yesterday. Both fawns went to check in with their parent when I got out of the car with my camera. Imagine the terror of a small child whose parents have been taken away.

Taking the baby

My daughter is graduating from college. She is not very interested in it, but will go through the ceremony and process, for my sake and the sake of the family.

She and I and my son are going to do a graduation errand, turn in the money for the cap and gown or something like that. There are various errands.

We stop by a daycare. My friend B’s third child is there. A girl, a baby. I make her laugh. I take her with us on the errand.

I don’t tell anyone. I don’t even think of it. My daughter is disapproving, but my children are used to me charming strange babies in restaurants and often getting to hold them. They think that this is weird, but parents are always weird. We get to the van and I realize there is no car seat. That is beyond the pale. I also realize that I have taken this baby, no, kidnapped it, and no one knows where it is. I am horrified. My daughter drives back to the day care, my son in the other seat. “I am the car seat,” I say to the baby, knowing that I am not. It’s a VW van in the dream, with no seats in the back, a high bed to sleep on. I hold the baby and pray.

My kids drop me at the daycare. I go in, immediately bursting into tears of apology and guilt. The baby has been fine through all of this. B has already come and gone, deeply upset. The police have not been called yet, I think they suspected that it was me being an idiot. The woman who runs the daycare takes the baby. I am terrified that B and her family have driven to Eastern Washington and I want to offer to take the baby to them at this instant, but I know that no one will trust me with this baby. Ever again.

And I don’t deserve to be trusted.

A man is there. He says that B is working at a restaurant. I want to go to her, to apologize, but I am crying just thinking about it. I would be disruptive. He will go tell her. He leaves.

I wait, guilty. The baby is changed and tucked into a bassinet, safe.

B comes. She looks grey and worn. I am crying. She sees me and goes down on her knees, covering her face, bent forward. I am crying, “I am sorry, I am so sorry, please forgive me!” I am hugging her, “Please will you still be my friend.” She says nothing.

I wake up.

My daughter has two years to graduation. B does not have a third child. Our van is a Ford, with seven seats. My children are the right ages in the dream, young adults. I have not been in a daycare for years. I don’t know either the woman running the daycare or the man. In the dream they are acquaintances, archetypes, people I know but not specific people from my daytime world.

Mundane Monday #166: parent and child

My theme for Munday Monday #165 is parent and child.

I have this small statue in my clinic. I have a small collection of parent/child and mother/child art that I have collected for years. I was separated from my mother at birth, from my father and his family at 4 months and back to my mother and father at 9 months. I was sure that adults loved me but I did not trust them: they kept abandoning me.

As an adult I understand that it was because my mother had active tuberculosis and that the first separation saved my life. But…. I can love people, but trust must be earned.

A patient said last week that I had a political statement in my waiting room. “I do?” I said. He was talking about this statue.

If this is a political statement, I stand by it.

Attach your parent child picture, political statement or not. And much love and hope for every parent and child and love.

One entry from last week, Mundane Monday #165: sand:

KL Allendorfer: Sand.