Aug. 21st, 2015

akienm: (Default)
I remember meeting Sushi. Sushi was a female orange tabby cat, who's eyes were too small for her head, rendering her *mostly* blind.

My daughter had been invited to a birthday party for one of her friends. This party was held at the local animal shelter, and rather than bringing gifts for the child, we were encouraged to bring money or things to donate to the shelter.

So the kids were sitting at 3 tables more or less around the middle of the room. All the parents were sitting at a table in the corner. The plan was to bring in some of the animals, one at a time, for the kids to interact with.

They explained that the kids would be able to interact fairly freely with most of the animals, but because of Sushi's blindness, the kids were allowed to come only up two or three at a time to pet her.

Once the kids had all had a chance, the employee started to head out of the room, walking past the parent's table. I said "hey, what about us?". So she came over to our table, and as she was reiterating that we shouldn't handle the cat, the cat left her arms and settled onto my shoulders. She had clearly picked me.

She was a pretty friendly cat, though fiercely independent. And she was a fighter... I remember the house in San Leandro had a window in the upstairs bath that could open, but we couldn't put a screen on because of the design of the window. We opened it often because it was needed when the house got warm. A neighbor cat came in and Sushi came out ready for a fight, and chased the interloper out with much noise and gnashing of teeth.

Even when she fell ill, she was fighting to the very end.

I remember feeling like there was no way I could do what needed doing once she got to a place of suffering... But having grown up partially on a farm, I understood why it was necessary.

She will be remembered fondly.
akienm: (Default)
This one is about something that happened to me yesterday. I was talking with a friend, and we were talking about how her child is growing up and has started to ask questions about sex, the way little kids do. And this friend told me she was torn about how much to tell, as she wanted to preserve the child's innocence for as long as possible.

Now that is something I've heard before, for my entire life really. I know that when I reached puberty, I had no idea what to do or how anything worked. I had an ongoing fantasy that an older woman would come to me and teach me about all this stuff. The discomforts of that, probably along with my time on the farm, left me with a very pragmatic approach to innocence. I am now firmly of the opinion that it's not our job to protect our children from the world, it's our job to train them to be ready to deal with the world. Train them in what they'll need to know as adults.

In my own home, with my kids, we were very open about the topic of sex. Some of that was related to our avocation of teaching in the poly world. Some of it was just being forthcoming and factual when they had questions. But by the time my youngest reached puberty, there were no mysteries about it for her. She knew about safer sex, and even safer sex agreements between people in open relationships.

Yesterday, I happened to call my daughter just to chat. While we were on the phone, I was reminded about the conversation I'd had earlier about innocence. So I explained to her about this conversation with my friend, and then asked her "Now that you're an adult, and have come out the other side of all that, how do you feel about having had sex be such a normal topic when you were younger?"

As well as I can remember, this is what she said: I wasn't upset by it at the time, and by the time I started having those feelings, I knew what they were. I knew about the difference between sex and love, I knew that the sense of infatuation was brain chemicals, and I knew how long they lasted. I knew how infatuation can become love over time. I watched my friends fumbling around with this, and they all wound up coming to me for answers. I knew enough not to make the same mistakes they were making. It really prepared me well, and I'm glad it worked out that way.

I was gobsmacked. I had long ago promised myself that just not beating my kids was "enough". That if I could do better than my dad did in that department, then I was a success as a parent, regardless of how deficient I might feel about specific things. And by that metric, I was a success. Sure, I wish I were more closely connected with my kids, but just doing better than my dad did was enough.

But this, this was like assuming I was getting a D in the class, only to find that I'd gotten an A.

It's worth noting that my daughter has been in the same polyamorous relationship with the same people over the entirety of her time in high school. They are still together.

I… Just… Wow. :)

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Akien MacIain

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