Monday, September 22, 2014

Autobiographical Challenge: Day 5 and 6

When I was a child I lived in the desert, the high mountain desert of Wyoming, and spent summers at 10,000 feet in snow and tundra. But somehow, I wanted to grow up and be a dolphin. At first I went through a phase of being very angry that my parents had not named me flipper, then when I talked the two of them, who were both so afraid of water that they held on to the towel rack all the way through their bath, into signing me up for swim lessons, I spent hours swimming underwater, pretending to be the mermaid I knew I would grow up to be. And that was years before Disney showed me there could be redheaded mermaids. Ariel came to the big screen the year I started teaching and I took my first class to the theater to see her.

From there I decided that what I needed to become was a dolphin trainer, working with my beloved animals at Marine Land or sea World.  I know that there has been a lot of negativity toward the idea of the marine mammals being trained and kept captive. I am sure that some of those complaints are justified but I firmly believe that humans only save what they care about, and only care about what they know. I don’t think there would be people making films like Blackfish, or Free Willie, or doing things to try to ban the slaughter in the wild of those incredible creatures, if there had not been a place where children like I was, could press out hands to the glass and see the dolphin making eye contact or see the killer whale begging us to play.
So we have learned, and need to change as we grow, but that does not mean we could have ever gotten to the point of caring without the zoos and Aquariums which turned the animals real in the minds of those of us who care, not just about animals in general but about the death of one specific Orca named Keiko and the happiness of a sealion named Red and the friendship of Flipper.
No, I didn't grow up to be a dolphin or a Mermaid or even a dolphin trainer, but I teach children every bit as funny as Flipper and I live by the Sea, and more than once I stood eye to eye with Keiko and shared a glimpse of similar souls

this picture, for my brothers birthday back on August 27 Is the one that made me decide to spend this month with old stories and old family pictures.

My parents were sure that they could never conceive another child after I was born, and then one day asked me what I thought of the idea of a baby in the family. I thought having a little sister would be wonderful and told them so. I hadn't known that the reason I had been having a babysitter once a week was because they were attending pre adopt meetings. At that time adoptions were very secretive things and babies were placed far from their family of birth. So we had to drive nine hours to pick up the six month old baby boy. My brother was adopted when he was 6 months old and I was almost 5. I remember driving clear across the state with my parents to pick up my new brother. Actually I was convinced it would be a girl, and when the social worker heard me ask where the girl was, she pulled out his picture and showed me, and said, "I guess we have to find another home for this boy then" and I remember screaming at her as I stared at the photo, "Don't you dare give my brother away."
 I gave up the idea of a sister as soon as I saw his picture and fell in love.

The worst part for me was that my Dad’s big sister came to see the baby and decided that a new baby and my long hair were too much work for my mom, and gave me a pixie cut. I hated it and soon started school where I became known as Pixie-Dixie but wasn't allowed to grow out my hair for a few years.

I did love having a baby brother. But we hadn't had him long before he ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and children were not allowed in as visitors. I wasn't happy that they took my baby away, and even angrier when mom bought him a stuffed panda. I cried and begged and got her to give it to me. So then she bought another, this one in powder blue and pink to take to him in the hospital. My panda still gives me a twinge of guilt - even knowing that sibling rivalry is common and knowing that little girl was missing her brother and being the center of her parents attention - I still cringe about trying to steal the toy from a sick baby.

When we first brought him home, he became hysterical at night. The social worker only told us it was because he had been used to sleeping in a crib with two other babies. I was never sure if that meant he had been a triplet or merely that there were a lit of babies in his pre adopt foster home

Now 46 years later, and the mom of an adopted boy myself - I can say adoption is a wonderful way to build a family.

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