When I was younger, my father sent us a parcel full of books. He did not send us presents that often, so my siblings and I could barely contain our excitement when the brown box arrived. It was huge.
When the box opened, we were greeted by two things: a number of children’s books and lots and LOTS of packing peanuts! I only clearly remember one book and that is one featuring the beloved sponge, Spongebob Squarepants. I remember him so clearly because when I had first read the book, I could make no sense out of it. Spongebob was foreign to me. Heck, had you told me that Spongebob Squarepants is a sponge, the only image I would have had in my head would be of the sponge my mother washes her dishes with. Had you told me that this sponge lived underwater, I would have given it a lot of thought and would have finally come to the conclusion that the sponge that my mother washes her dishes with was originally kidnapped from the seas. In fact, years later when I found myself in the US, sitting in front of the TV and looking at the sponge and crab talking, was I beginning to pull together all the loose strands of the strange book and the strange sponge. But I diverge.
My siblings and I went through the foreign books with their foreign characters and the foreign language that our father had sent for us from overseas, smiling because we knew he had sent us his love in these presents. We read them and we reread them. We were content.
After having read and put away the books, I remembered the box in which my present had arrived. More precisely, I remembered the magical soft small cylindrical things that it had come with. I looked inside the box again and found the things still in there. I touched them, wondering if they were toys that my father had sent with the books. Strange books, strange toys, right? When my grandmother found me poking the things that I was fascinated by, she told me to run and get some water. I ran over to the kitchen and filled up one of the steel glasses that always felt cold against my lips whenever I drank from them and ran back.
After some pinching and coloring with pinks and reds, my grandmother showed me her creation. In her hand was a flower made from the strange things that I did not know the name of nor understood the purpose of. We saved those peanuts and made many flowers from them in the day to come.
I remember the colorful flowers whenever I am greeted by those soft white things even today. I would probably still think them strange and foreign had I not known them in their sweet flower form.
My flew do windy
thoughts papers on
just like days.
fly jumbled to-be-found
everywhere in wind. forgotten
I weight thoughts
the paper my
Can up with …. thoughts
not keep these
She is beautiful. She is intelligent. She is ruthless. She is unstoppable.
She believes that she can do anything she has set her mind to. She isn’t wrong.
She accepts failure with grace and she takes success with pride.
She talks with her voice crisp and her head raised high.
She maintains her calm whenever making a point and she stands for everyone’s right to voice their opinions, even if they don’t match hers.
She believes in equality and the freedom of speech.
But because she is unstoppable, she believes everyone else can be too.
Because she can stand in front of the world and make her point, she believes everyone should be able to do.
She does not understand inability because she has never faced it.
She does not understand helplessness because she has never been there.
She does not understand how anyone could ever be stopped if they really really want something.
She will never understand the plight of the people who never even had the opportunity to start.
I have wandered from place to place to find my sanctuary.
And I have found it in the warmth of his hands.
I have found it in my sister’s bubbling laughter,
With the pile of books I keep under my blanket.
And in the quiet listening ears that never betrayed me.
I have found my sanctuary with the One who created me.
And I have found it in the checks of my To-Do List.
I have found it under the tree I call mine.
And I have found it in the clouds that remind me of sea monsters.
I have found not one, but many sanctuaries.
Yet I often find myself homeless.
I always forget to look within myself.
I was walking down the baby’s clothing aisle, minding my own business, when a bright romper caught my attention. The turquoise was bright against the dull colors and I could see the very carefully placed words that demanded my attention. The shirt said something like this: “Pick me up, darlin’… I [heart] older chicks”.
I didn’t quite know whether to chuckle or to raise my eyebrows. I knew that this shirt was supposed to be funny, and in a way, it was. Yet it made me uncomfortable, if not offended. There is such a fine line between funny and offensive and it is often times hard to tell which side to put a given instance on. When I shared my dilemma with a friend, explaining how I am unsure if I am over reacting or if this truly is a problem and a reflection of our human condition, I got a good natured text back “To what extent does kid’s clothing represent the human condition LOL?”
The answer is indeed “To a great extent.” The child who wears this shirt may not have a clue as to what it is saying, but the one who got the shirt for the child does. I am yet to come across a baby girl’s romper that says “Pick me up darling… I love older dudes”. Something tells me that that shirt wouldn’t be quite as popular. This shirt bothered me when I first saw it but I suppressed my annoyance with it, telling myself that it’s just a joke. But it is our acceptance of such jokes that gives the impression to our sons that it is okay to disrespect women. It is this reluctance to “overreact” that tells society that it is okay for our sons to grow up and address women by the word that originally referred to poultry.
Everything around us in some shape or form affects and reflects our thinking. There are so many subtle ways we shame women everywhere, from the “What were you wearing?” to the simple “man up”. Sexism, racism, colorism, and the countless other isms that people among us are subjected to: they are all sneaky. Don’t let them get places like your children’s wardrobes.