Krista J. Flint Looks Retrospectively at a Piece She Wrote Years Ago:
I can’t believe I wrote this piece seven years ago when my now 14 year old was only seven. My three boys, Oliver (14) Simon (12) and Charlie (8) know first hand how much better their school, scout troop, tong soo do class, acting studio, guitar lessons, and air cadets are because they all include other children with disabilities. It’s the first thing I ask before signing them up for any extra-curricular activity. It’s the responsible thing to do, not out of some kind of misplaced pity or dogma-but simply because I know these places-where children with disabilities are welcomed, are the same places where my children will flourish.
So out of sentimental drivel, and because some of you are new to meeting my children I offer you this small window into a large part of my motivation to do this work.
P.S. – Happy to say I can check a few items off of my list of “desperately want for them”…
(From Charlie’s nursery at 2:45 a.m.)
All of my references seem to center around the large cedar book case where my three baby boys and I seem to spend endless hours pouring over books as my seven year old astonishes himself with his newly acquired ability to read to his younger brothers. I think often about what I dream of for them as every day takes them farther from the intimacies of my body, and away from the cocoon of our home.
I imagine their lives, careers and futures in fantastic detail. (It is one of my favorite ways to pass time!) And while the specifics of their existence in the world remain foggy and difficult to envision, I am sure about a few things I desperately want for them.
- I want them to know deep and life changing love.
- I want them to learn the names of their neighbors.
- I want them to have friends that knock on our door on Saturday morning.
- I want to be annoyed at the frequency with which the phone rings for them in the evening.
- I want to observe them un-noticed at a school dance, in midst of their peers.
- I want them to feel the exhilaration of acceptance and to know the heart break of being left out, and to be able to imagine this same heart break in others.
- I want them to be inspired by all there is to learn in the world.
- I want them to feel the pride and fulfillment of a first pay cheque.
- I want them to experience the joy of participating in an endeavor that is bigger and more important than they are in the universe.
- I want them to understand the importance of their place and uniqueness in the world.
Parenting has helped me to understand that I can know very little for sure about humanity, but I feel as if I know this…
Children belong on little yellow school buses, or careening across playgrounds, oblivious to pain and loss which sadly swirls around the world.
Adults belong in coffee shops and in offices and factories, in malls and libraries, in traffic and line-ups at the post office, connected to each other in the hairy, messiness of day-to-day life.
Children belong in families, babies belong in Mothers arms, alone and yet a part of an intimate kinship of parents up in the night…in nurseries, in rocking chairs and walking hallways.
My babies, and the ensuing privilege and chaos of three children under 7 have made me realize that we do not exist except in the ways that we relate to one another.
Each identity waits in breathless expectation of being created and flourishing in the gaze of someone who knows us and would miss us if we were gone.
This is the stuff that makes us human.
That which separates us weakens us.
Where would I be without you to make my experiences real?
I belong to you and you belong to me.
Children need other children.
Kids belong with other kids, brought together by that which they love, not by what society perceives as most broken about them.
Neighbourhood schools, regular classrooms, community places, this is where real belonging lives.
-Krista J. Flint