I’ve heard it said that the first reaction you have to anything is what you’ve been taught to think, and your second, more considered reaction is what you’ve taught yourself to think.
This morning, on my way out of Bellbird Dell, and an hour’s walk, I saw a white-headed magpie on someone’s front lawn. Standard in every other way as an Australian magpie, but with a white head, and a few grey spotty markings. It was happily pecking away at the grass, foraging for insects.
My first thought was ‘that’s not right’. It’s a genetic defect, a variation on what my brain says is ‘correct magpie’. It could be this magpie has a hard time finding a mate, because its plumage is not sending the right signals. That said, there was another maggie, a bog-standard one, nearby and foraging as well. It’s nearly nesting season for magpies, so it could be they are a mated couple, getting nest-ready.
Or maybe not.
My second reaction was: “Fuck it, you do you, little maggie. Be purple if you want.”
I’ve had a lot of training in this more liberal attitude over the years. I have an adult offspring who sports moderate autism, a mild intellectual impairment, a hearing impairment(like their sister), is non-verbal, has identified as ‘girl’ and ‘mermaid’ from an early age(well, first they were a train, then a turtle, then Gamera, then Godzilla, then Ash from ‘Pokemon’, and now, when asked to draw themselves, draws a yellow and blue mermaid), and has come out, as far as they have been able to, as gay.
They don’t give off the right body language. They don’t speak any known language. They still play with Thomas the Tank Engine, plush dinosaurs and snakes, Duplo and Lego, and have an enormous collection of dvds, ranging from ‘Paw Patrol’ up to some pretty weird anime.
Their unusual body language, and lack of speech has troubled both of their young nephews, and is currently troubling the 2 year old niece. She rears back in my arms when her uncle is around. Both the boys have done their assessment of their uncle, and implicitly understand now that they are always up for a game, and will watch ‘Paw Patrol’ with them, and their body language is odd, but hey, they are still good.
My granddaughter is still in assessment mode.
I figure nature must have a use for the white-headed magpie, and must have a use for my offspring. So, you be purple if you want to be, magpie. And you be a mermaid if you want, offspring. I’ll be over here, being a grandmother witch yogini belly dancer writer.