Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…


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i hate monday.

some days i feel like simply pulling my hair out by fistfuls!!!

what, you might ask, has this usually calm and centered person so frustrated that such an exclamation is made?

as many of you may know who are regular readers of this blog, i have a young daughter.  she’s lovely, transgender and has autism.  the transgender part of this statement causes me discomfort because of the pain she feels at having what are, for her, the wrong genitalia.  the autistic part of this statement causes much more frustration on my part, as she is unable to tolerate a school environment (altho i don’t think schools are the best places for children anyway) and therefore is homeschooling, with me as teacher.  it is this last part, that is giving me the screaming fits right about now.

many high-functioning autistic persons have difficulty with schedules that are arranged by others, or by situations over which they have no control.  many high-functioning autistic persons are NOT like ‘rain man’ and actually have great difficulty transferring short term memory input into long term memory storage.  thus my daughter, altho very intelligent and absolutely comprehending maths and algebraic formulae must still refer to a multiplication table and counting on fingers to accomplish these lessons…altho reading at about a 9th or 10th grade level, has problems remembering how to spell ‘because’ or any other sight word.

i have plenty of patience for this…it is her absolute refusal to come to the table and actually cooperate with the lesson plans that bothers…er, drives me crazy.  for example, today’s lessons were prefaced by an entire 3/4 of an hour of her trying to convince me to double up tomorrow’s lessons and let her slide today.  and that whole process was prefaced by 15 minutes wherein she accused me about lying when i told her it was Monday, and thus a lesson day.

already she only does about 4 hour’s worth of actual lessons on any given day…did she not include the many fits and tantrums that amount of time would define her entire ‘school day’.  but after adding on the time she spends in bargaining, angry reprisals and resistance, her day is stretched to about 6 hours!

it is almost a given that on lesson days there will be a fight.  she will require me to raise my voice and be sternly resolute about the fact that the work will be done.  it is almost a given these days that i will have to remind her that she either learns from me or is enrolled in public school. that there are laws to which i must adhere to ensure that she gets an education,…my way or theirs. no matter that i have tried to raise her and all my children without threats, when it comes to her cooperation with lessons i am almost always reduced to the “therefores” that sound so menacing…

no video games, no t.v., no ‘this’, no ‘that’…and “i’ll have to enroll you in school”

so today, another monday…another sesssion of futile bargaining…and another morning of raising my voice…

gods! i hate monday!


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nimby syndrome, a brain-eating infection

this morning i woke to this story here’s the letter in full. from twitter.

i’m simply gobsmacked, but not surprised that there are heartless people who don’t mind exposing their own nasty bits. however, unlike the trench-coated pervert who flashes his private parts to an unsuspecting and disgusted bystander, this sort of person doesn’t bother to hid their indiscretions and abominable nature.

perhaps the story mentioned above will turn out to be a giant hoax. that would be some small comfort…but not much. there would still be the whole “who the hell would prank something this awful’ taste in the mouth.

but it isn’t hard for me to believe that there’s one person crazy enough to visit their hate so obviously and openly (altho the letter was anonymous), because there’s whole throngs of people like this raising a stink about transgender kids using the right restroom for them in the school they attend.

high profile, not hiding behind an anonymous letter, making threats, using the court system, slinging their ignorance about like a chimpanzee in a cage does shit, like the lady who sent that letter these folk seem to have more than just the nimby syndrome (not in my back yard). perhaps an extremely virulent form of it that has morphed into a brain-eating infection that renders them incapable of rational, human thought.

some of these “not in my school” variants are pulling their ‘normal’ kids out of the public school systems around the country that have the audacity to treat transgender kids with kindness, consideration and respect. but it doesn’t stop there. no way! they feel they must try to repeal legislation that allows protections under the law to those whom they would oppress, persecute and ostracise.

like the author of this letter, they are convinced of their own righteousness, of their right to feel such awful things about another human being, of their superior standing in normal society and their justifiable lack of a heart.

people like my beautiful 10 year old transgender daughter, who is also autistic have a long row to hoe already…not because of who they are, but because of how full society still is of all these less evolved souls, and outright demon-possessed, frothing at the mouth idiots.

honestly! it’s the fucking 21st century!


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not yet insane

today while loading some of my older poems onto one of my webpages i came across one entitled “day one”.

it was funny looking back on what i thought would become of my attempt at homeschooling ziona. and to be completely honest, i’m not sure that from time to time i haven’t been *this close* to checking into the local funny-farm. quite probably it isn’t a stretch to profess that i have at least figuratively, found myself banging my head against a wall.

autism has many ways of presenting to the world. just as neuro-typical persons have each their own way of interacting with situations in their everyday life, so too the neuro-diverse, like those with autism, have their own very unique way of approaching things. but many children with autism share the same tendency to tantrum that ziona exhibits.

if it only happened when she is called upon to cooperate with her homeschool lessons such fits of anger would be only an enhanced version of the dislike and frustration most any child feels at being made to learn such previously unnecessary skills as ‘cursive handwriting’ or comparative fractions and decimals. if it only happened when she can’t remember how to spell the words on her weekly list of words to remember how to spell, it would be quite understandable.

but from as far back as my slowly aging memory extends with regard to zee, she has had much difficulty in the area of patience. when younger she used to ‘stim’ by spinning wheels on toy cars lain on their backs to this end, or staring into the ceiling fan, watching water pour from the bathroom sink’s spiggot or even waving her fingers in front of her eyes while staring, as if , right through them. these are some of the ways in which some kids with autism cope with the inability to self-calm from which many suffer,

these days ziona doesn’t use such means to offset her frustrations. instead she rages. and by that i mean RAGES! it is this aspect of teaching her that gives us the majority of our problems. and just so everyone reading this who hasn’t had the dubious pleasure of witnessing a true ‘rage!’, can put this into perspective, let me describe a usual progression.

first she screams. then she pounds her fists, or the pencil held in her fist, into the table. then she becomes verbally abusive to me, even threatening to do me bodily harm. then she lays down and flails her arms and legs about while screaming, then she accuses me of thinking she’s dumb, or some such thing, then when she is made to go to her room,(if she goes without a struggle) to calm down, she rages from in there for a bit longer. then she starts hating on herself, she cries uncontrollably, starts calling herself dumb and other such things…she cries more, is overcome with remorse for how she’s behaved and says she deserves to be hurt, then she attempts self-harm.

at that point i force open the door, which usually she has slammed behind her and attempted to barricade, take her into my arms, hug and kiss her tears away. i tell her that she deserves only love. she cries and asks me how can i forgive her. i tell her that she always has my forgiveness and suggest that she learn to forgive herself. we walk back to the lesson area arm in arm to start again.

this same sort of outburst used to happen far more frequently and for little or no reason at all. she has improved greatly. having learned to use words to communicate has helped her to verbalise her emotions, but it has also given her a new way to lash out, to tantrum. and altho such occurrances as the one described above happen at least once a day, either in response to lessons or some other thing that frustrates her, it seems like heaven around here, compared to how it was when as a younger child i could expect at least 9 or 10 of such blind rages per day.

one day, after lessons…after lessons had taken up the whole of the day, right up to her bedtime, we had an enlightening discussion.

i asked her what does she gain from raging like that. her answer was wise and nearly blew me away! she told me that just like swearing when you stub your toe makes it seem less painful, her tantrums actually are a way for her to achieve calm, to alleviate her psychic pain. it was then i began to understand. this is her new version of ‘stimming’.

whether this is really a better way to self-calm than going into the bathroom and running the tap for minutes at a time while staring at the cascade of water, or gazing into the ceiling fan, or shaking her hand in front of her face to watch her fingers make trails of themselves in her visual field, i can’t say. but her being able to explain the ‘why’ of her tantrums…in such a succinct and simple manner, has done much to alleviate my worries about whether such behaviour will last forever. i’m convinced it will not.

just as she left off some of the ‘stims’ of her babyhood in lieu of the ‘tantrums’ she employs today, i know one day she will find more appropriate ‘stim’ to meet the reality of whatsoever her environment and circumstance.

as for me, i haven’t gone insane just yet. and since our little ‘talk’, and my subsequent understanding of her process, my patience levels have increased.


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by heart

i love homeschooling my kids. especially this late life child, ziona!
our sociology lesson for yesterday was the movie “samsara” (just click on create streaming link, type in code it gives) or here it is from youtube

this beautiful and moving film shows life as it is. the good, the bad and the ugly of it all. the sameness and differentness of the people of our world. the daunting majesty of nature juxtaposed with the works of man.

watching this, with the only narration being me answering any questions ziona had about certain places or things depicted, took slight over an hour and a half. it was the discussion afterward that proved the effectiveness of this film.

public schools aren’t able to pursue this sort of methodology in teaching. aren’t able to or just don’t try to…not sure which is a truer statement of the facts. but the practice of education as a mere ‘pouring in’ of information into containers overlooks the reality that young minds aren’t empty cups. they are mini-processors already involved in decoding and encoding much of the experience taken in through their senses, information cued by their surroundings, by their observations, or inspired by what they see, hear or to which they are exposed.

sociology can’t be a mere exercise in rote memorisation of the main export of this or that country, its population, or the major languages spoken there. it is, after all, the study of society, and the social constructs that pervade it. any attempt to understand the subject of social arrangements that concerns itself mainly with the gross national product or the governmental and religious systems of a place will omit the most important things: the actual people that comprise the population. sociology fails miserably if it overlooks the historical and cultural backdrop behind the facts.

the beauty of ziona’s mini-processor upon having taken in this film (which by the way, everyone should see) was on full display as she led the remainder of the lesson by stating her observations and asking the questions pertinent to her own understanding of what she had seen.

ziona’s autism hasn’t given her savant-like powers to memorise facts and numbers. to date, spelling and multiplication tables still give her the most trouble, altho she reads at a grade level 2 or 3 years above her own, and is beginning to learn algebraic mathematics. but like every other child, she has an innate curiousity and propensity for arranging information and thoughts in her mind. lessons that take into account the beauty and complexity of ways a child learns don’t rely on force-feeding.

yesterdays lesson was a glaring success. no, ziona didn’t learn what language is spoken today in brazil, or what religion is most practiced in the world. what she learned can’t really be summed up in words, can’t be assessed in an ordinary test…she learned to see the world with new eyes! she grew aware of the realities that other people on this planet experience. she began to take note of the samenesses shared and differences between the inhabitants of her world.

this is something not easy to impart with text books, charts and graphs. it is truly a lesson she’s learned ‘by heart’.


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happy new year!

so, here we stand on the precipice of another year. or at least that is how one is supposed to look at it. but time isn’t like this for me. it moves in neither line nor a circle, (which is really just a line joined end to end to itself). i’m synesthetic with regard to time. for me it is something more akin to prioperception, a sense of my self in relation to space. and yes, time is space in terms of physics too.

so for me time is more like a spiral of space, a mobius spiral binder holding together all the pages of life that pertain to this ‘me’. at any given place along the spiral, memories tethered by that particular place, open like a side room leading through the corresponding experiences. so the mobius spiral is also like a staircase within a mansion of many rooms. time is a continuity of places my self has traveled here in life… at death, i imagine that the mobius loop of spiral space is unaffected, but a different self will begin riding its curves and waves.

at 58 years old, well over half of this ‘time’ has been governed by parenthood. my days revolve around caring and providing for these awesome creatures. ensuring their physical growth and well-being through acts of love such as cooking good food, and encouraging activity. seeing to their mental growth by providing materials in many different mediums that touch them to a broad spectrum of things to learn. and most of all, helping them to develop as the persons they are, by allowing their lotus being to unfold, unhindered and protected.

each of these awesome creatures has in reality taught me much more than i them. everything i’ve been required to teach them, for example, has of a need required me to learn how to best do this. children help to expand us from within, stretching us and molding us as they once did while inhabitants of the womb. in a way, as a mother, one is ever a womb. always growing to accomodate the child’s needs… always changing in order to provide what is needed, when it is needed.

for 33 years, the mobius spiral has moved me along through this mansion, with one fact of life determining everything else: the care of a child.

i can’t imagine life without this potent inspiration. and i may not have to. because ziona is autistic, and tho considerably high-functioning, i likely will be providing care for her well beyond the usual 18 years that a child tolerates a parent. her particular idiosyncrasies may make living on her own difficult at best. still, a mother bird must somehow fledge her young, preparing them for flight.

for now, it is all about homeschool lessons (against which she battles me), tickle-fights, and tackle-hugs…and bumping our rear-ends together for a ‘butt-kiss’ at bedtime. and altho aware of the places that this mobius spiral will carry us both someday, it is bliss to dwell in the moment, and even more so when spending one’s days with a child. it is this place called ‘now’ that continuously unfurls the future. therefore, every ‘now’ well-lived leads unto a thousand well-lived tomorrows.

so happy new year! to everyone…no matter how you experience time, may your going forth be pleasant and fruitful. and above all, whatsoever your life requires of you, remember this: each moment experienced for itself alone is time well spent.


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a giant leap

ziona has a new friend.
actually an email pal…much faster interchanges than the old-time pen pals.
her new friend is a transgender girl, 11 years old.
they were introduced to one another by us mothers who connected on tyfa chat. which is transgender youth and families chat room where parents can connect with one another and share information, frustrations, horror or success stories.
it is awesome to watch their friendship unfold. which i must as ziona is just beginning to learn the qwerty keyboard, and so requests me to ‘take dictation’.

being autistic, ziona has a difficult time understanding just how to engage in conversation with others. on a ‘face to face’ basis this is more apparent, but in emails she has leisure to consider what she wants to say. it is amazing to me that she actually seems interested in this new friend enough to ask questions that relate to the friend, and not only to one of her own pet interests. at first she required a bit of prompting from me about this, now after just a week of interchanges, she not only shares about her own ‘stuff’, but has also learned how to work it into a conversational setting.

they started out by the new friend doing one of those “what’s your favorite __________?”
type of questionaire. in helping ziona answer that email, i, as the typist, learned that ziona has a favorite number…it’s 2000. also that ziona prefers plain and not striped or dotted walls and that if she could be any other real life creature she’d choose, first a lizard, second cat.

she is learning that she and her new friend have very different interests. ziona loves computer and video games, her friend never plays them. her friend wishes she could have a sister, ziona loves being an only child and doesn’t feel that need. her friend lives between her mom’s house and her dad’s house, whether she likes it or not. ziona and i share two homes. the friend’s dad is not fully supportive of his ‘daughter’ but is ‘coming around’. ziona felt bad about this latter thing. in a rare moment of empathy,(her autism sometimes makes her seem quite aloof) she said she felt sorry for her.

it’s not surprising to me that neither one of them feels the need to say much about the fact that they are transgender. at least not now. her friend mentioned that she had only ‘transitioned’ two months ago and asked how long ago ziona had transitioned…ziona had to ask me what that means, then answered with her own language regarding this, by saying: “i started growing my hair long and wearing dresses outside the house when i was 6”. ziona doesn’t recognise or relate to a transition since she has always been a girl. it is likely that her friend has always been a girl too, but used the vernacular of the cis-gender world to describe her current reality.

her new friend asked if ziona had always been her name and asked zee to suggest some pretty names, for when she changes hers. ziona suggested leelah, and explained that it means ‘play’ in sanskrit. it is one of her favorite names. (another thing i only learned because i’m taking dictation)

all this is so exciting for me. because for the first time ever, ziona is actually communicating as a friend! not in some pre-arranged play-date type of forced situation. but as a curious child learning about a new friend, and sharing bits of herself. she even had me attach some photos of gargoyles, aliens, and herself with goddess, her cat..
.
this is ziona’s first ever beginnings at what can be called friendship
and as the parent of any autistic child can affirm, this is not a baby step…but a giant leap!


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wait for it….wait for it….

today has been ‘one of those days’. you know the kind. where murphy’s law is in league with some other equally evil and unnecessary sabotage to ensure a frustration that is baseless and anonymous enough to preclude a target for one’s anger.

i had thought that today’s post would be about the flight to san francisco for ziona’s first visit to the ucsf child and adolescent gender clinic. i imagined it would be upbeat in it’s tone, unfurling the pleasant banner of feelings of accomplishment and direction. the long awaited appointment, which both ziona and i had so looked forward to would be behind us. we would know whether she is at tanner two, and if so, would have a prescription in hand for the puberty blockers.

the appointment to see the national center for lesbian rights lawyer after our visit to the clinic would help us to ascertain just what sort of hoop jumping or wrangling would be needed in order to acquire those ‘blockers’ through ziona’s medi-caid in florida. resolve. accomplishment.

no doubt a whirlwind day of flying across the country to keep two appointments, dealing with the airport lines, security, the red eye flight back at midnight that would deposit us home again a scant 24 hours later would carry it’s own hurried pace and once done would earn us a well-deserved sigh of relief.

breathe in….breathe out.

but that isn’t what this post is going to be about. no, as fate would have it, after getting up at 3:45 a.m. in order to get to the airport in time to retrieve our e-tickets from the machines, we were to learn that we weren’t going anywhere!

it just so happened that houston, the first leg of the flight, hadn’t sent a plane from their airport to pensacola because of violent thunderstorms over night. and even could we have found another plane to fly into houston in time to catch the flight to san francisco, it would do us no good, because houston airport wasn’t receiving any flights in by morning either as the storms had lingered.

so, there we were. in a long line of people all sharing the same situation. tickets for a flight that wouldn’t happen, waiting for the airline’s staff to find other means by which we might get to our destinations. but for us, leaving at 8 a.m. the next day would do no good. the child and adult gender clinic at ucsf happens only once each month, on the second tuesday.

my daughter, tho i admire the way she didn’t have a full-blown meltdown right there in the airport, could not help but express her exceeding dismay in a most loud and straight-forward manner, the only way a sleep-deprived autistic child can manage.

“i hate united!” she screamed, “and i hate delta too!” she continued.

i was on the phone with hotwire when finally it was our turn to speak to the united airlines personel. the gentleman explained that he had booked us on the flight out wednesday at 8 a.m. and in a rather panicked voice, i explained our situation. that the clinic only happened once a month, and begged him to check for a flight from orlando to san francisco. or anywhere else.

he did. that series of flights would get us to san francisco at 8 p.m. no good.

so i asked him if the airline could simply schedule us for the second tuesday in august on the same hectic itinerary. he did this, but i had yet another problem. what if the following month’s clinic had no openings for us. would i be able to reschedule the flight fo september’s clinic? the very nice man said, “if you find out by 1 p.m. today, i can change the flight again.”

he suggested i call the clinic to try to arrange it as soon as possible, a feat i knew from experience would be almost super-human in scope given the two hour time difference and the nature of bureaucracies. this was not the way i had hoped to spend the day. nothing for which i had so carefully planned was working out according to those plans! a thunderstorm! that’s all it had taken to derail them.

but if i’ve learned one thing through the various experiences that life has afforded me it’s that when things are out of your hands, it’s best just to sit back and watch what unfolds. frantically grasping in vain attempts to hold onto and control the situation would only be further frustration. maybe even make things worse.

it’s like if you’re at home plate, brandishing your bat, striking your stance and you see a curve ball coming, swinging wildly at it rarely results in a home-run. just watch it, calmly. wait for it….wait for it…then, if it comes back into strike range meet it with force.

but just wait for it…cause sometimes, it will be out of range and the ump will call it a ball and make the pitcher throw again!