it’s a strange title for the piece i want to write today. it’s a strange notion on its own. still, it is the overall feeling that i took home from the recent trip to maryland for the gender spectrum east symposium.
first let’s look at the word in this definition from merriam webster dictionary.
everyone clear? because all of the various meanings in this entry are what i feel upon reflection of the past few days events. but i suppose first it would be fitting to explain a few of the reasons, or circumstances, that preclude the need of vindication.
first there is the fact that my daughter is both transgender and autistic. as regular readers of my blog are aware. this in itself would not require a parent to have a desire to feel vindication. but any good parent has doubts as to the child-rearing methods they employ. we all want to ‘do right’ by our children. and there exists no dearth of opinions both for and against the way in which we proceed.
this is especially true of parents whose children are “divergent” (by the way, this movie by the same name is a good allegory for our society and its fear of those who don’t easily fit its slots)
we are held up to scrutiny by strangers, by family, friends, and by professionals that believe we should do things their way. sometimes well-meaning individuals even feel it necessary to report us or our methods to child protection services. and frequently doctors, specialists, teachers and other ‘authority’ figure types try to bully us into changing our way.
for example, right after the very first vaccination given to zee, she began to have terrible seizures. they lasted for about 12 months, terrible at first, then tapering off. i knew that it was caused by the shot… i knew i would never allow another vaccination to be given her. and of course, you can imagine the flack i have taken for this decision. but many children who have a ‘bad reaction’ to the ‘shots’ are subsequently diagnosed with autism. now there is no proof by which i can feel vindicated in this instance, but she no longer has seizures, and has never had a sick day in her life…even when other children, vaccinated children, were coming down with things the shots were supposed to protect against. no measles, no mumps, no chicken pox…no dreaded flu or whooping cough.
but as to my decision to homeschool zee, i have often heard the same caution. it goes something like:
“well of course, one on one education in the homeschool situation is good for learning most things…but what about socialisation?”
even the most well meaning of my friends and family, as well as counselors and professional people have raised this question. but in my experience, schools are horrible places to learn socialising skills, especially for the ‘divergent’. there are bullies, teachers often don’t have the time or inclination to intervene, and one is not rewarded for socialising during class time…but rather, is punished for it.
i’ve not had opportunity to know whether or not i was depriving my daughter of this skill, one that is already difficult for many autistic people. then this magickal weekend at the gender spectrum event happened. and unlike the previous one she attended in berkeley, (where she didn’t have much of good show of those skills) she was an absolute butterfly! even the volunteers that looked after the tweens were pleasantly surprised at how unguarded and open she was.
for my part i was nearly blown away, when she, faced with a tight squeeze to sit at the craft table and make her name tag, paused only briefly before shrugging it off by saying: “well, socialisation is important for me so…” even two years ago this had been a nearly impossible feat for her. lack of schooling in a public school hadn’t crippled her after all…and being autistic, which often means social awkward-ness, had not stood in the way.
there is another aspect to this weekend having given me a sense of vindication. the other transgender children…and their supportive parents, family and friends. seeing acceptance in action, the good it brings, both serves to prove to me that the path we have chosen is the right one, and give me hope for the future.
i had a couple of experiences recently that make me want to vent…but for today’s post, i just wanted to bask in the glow of vindication.