- Animal slaughter
- Descriptions of Death
The Podcast About the Unknown
- Animal slaughter
- Descriptions of Death
As a baby, Griff Eldridge was quieter than most. But he slept well. He fed. He played with his big brother Ira. And he smiled easily. For a long time, his parents Luke and Davinia didn’t worry, because he was so happy and healthy.
When Griff became a toddler, Luke and Davinia started to compare his speech to the speech of other children and to the standards laid out in the Personal Child Health Record, a book issued to new parents by the UK government.
Griff was on track when he started to babble around 12 months old. But, unlike other children, the babble never evolved to understandable sentences.
Luke and Davinia began to track Griff’s speech in a notebook and test his hearing. They took him to several doctors, none of whom agree on a single diagnosis. They learned of “Verbal Dyspraxia” and “Phonological Disorder”. He’d see a speech therapist.
Griff is nearly four years old, about to start primary school, and still he’s never spoken a fully coherent sentence. They have 18 months to get him up to speed. Recently, Davinia’s been teaching Griff the signing language Makaton (see below).
In this episode, producer Luke Eldridge (Griff’s father) shares scenes from their home as his family works together to help Griff learn to talk. Bethany Denton edited this episode, along with help from Jeff Emtman. Additional editing help from Nick White at KCRW.
Growing up in Queens, NY, Karen Smith had no reason to suspect anything was wrong with her. Even when it hurt to sit for too long, or when her clothes didn't fit right, everything seemed fine. That's because Karen's mother did everything she could to hide the fact that Karen had Spina Bifida. The condition gave Karen severe scoliosis, a curve in her spine that made walking painful and made her skirts hang crooked. Her mother removed any full-length mirrors from the house in attempts to keep Karen from becoming self-conscious. But as she grew older, her scoliosis became more severe. And by the time she was in fifth grade, Karen had to be hospitalized in a children's ward, in and out of a corrective halo. This was just the beginning of three long years of treatment.
Bedridden and limited in her mobility by body casts and back braces, Karen judged the passing of time by the sounds around her as her vision progressively worsened. She found solace in her AM radio, pulling in stations in from far away in the middle of the night. She heard sounds of the courtyard below, filtering up through an open window. She wondered if the other kids would be too old to play with her by the time she's healthy enough to join them.
This story was produced and scored by Garrett Tiedemann, creator of The White Whale podcast. Garrett also works for Sister Story, a series that shares the daily lives of Catholic nuns. Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman edited this piece. Nick White is our editor at KCRW.
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Marlo Mack gave birth to a son. At least, she thought she did. As a toddler, her son crawled towards dresses, wanted to be a princess, asked to grow long blonde hair. And at age 3, Marlo's son requested to return to her tummy so he could come back out as a baby girl. Marlo thought it was a phase--it wasn't. So she started learning how to raise a very young transgender daughter. She started keeping audio diaries.
In this episode, Marlo sends her child to a new summer camp, and struggles with giving her autonomy in revealing her gender identity to other children.
Marlo faces questions daily about how to best raise her daughter. How can she stimulate her child while protecting her in a world often unkind to transfolk? She tells her daughter that there are some people who are like Darth Vader, just too sad to be kind anymore.
Marlo Mack and her daughter produce a podcast about their life together called How to Be a Girl. Marlo generously gave us access to her raw recordings for use on this episode. How to Be a Girl is part of The Heard, a new podcast network. Marlo also writes a blog called Gender Mom.
Marlo Mack is a pseudonym. She will keep their true identities secret until her child is old enough to understand the risks of revealing her identity. These risks are real. 2015 has been an especially bad year for trans folk; 2015 has already seen the murders of at least 15 American trans women. Marlo and her daughter exist in what they call "deep stealth mode."
So, when do you tell people that you're a girl with a penis? When is it safer to hide?
This episode was produced by Marlo Mack. Jeff Emtman edited it with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.
Music: The Black Spot
Resources for trans children and their parents:
Trans Youth Family Allies - for families of trans youth
The Trevor Project - specifically crisis and suicide prevention
YouthResource - specifically for trans/lgbt youth
Human Rights Campaign - list of resources for trans youth