Frances’s preferred documentary topics are diverse. Each topic’s phase is quite intense, lasting anywhere from weeks to months, during which period she learns a great deal.
It also means that I learn a great deal, too, because, after all, I am with her as she watches her docs.
Before Frances had come along, I couldn’t have told you what a terrapin is, how cute meerkats are, or what are the specific fertility issues afflicting the giant panda. I had no idea how wonderfully diverse architecture in the US and Canada can be, from where the Crown Jewels originate, or how many people on the planet have primordial dwarfism type II.
Of course, having children in and of itself is a learning process, but there’s just so much more to learn when Frances is nearby.
One of my projects has been to illustrate a story about my maternal grandparents for my children. My mother’s parents lived a life that appeared to be supported, rather than encumbered, by self-consciousness.
My grandparents exemplified self-acceptance, so I hope that they make good story subjects.
In a journal dated November 2012, I wrote:
My grandparents lived exactly as they wanted to live and didn’t bow to societal pressures to be like other Canadian grandparents. My grandmother went to work while my grandfather stayed home. My grandmother didn’t cook, clean, garden, knit or sew; my grandfather did.
They didn’t own a house; they owned a condo. There wasn’t a playground when we visited; I played in my grandmother’s home office among ill-arranged furniture. There weren’t toys; my grandmother gave me calculators and stationery for entertainment…
Above all, they demonstrated that being different is, oddly, what makes us like everyone else.
I want both children to know that Frances is not different because she has autism spectrum disorder (that is only one facet of her uniqueness); she is “different”, as we all are, simply because she is human.