The ‘Black Panther’ director posted a beautiful letter to his fans.

“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler is still coming to words with the response to his film.

When you make a Marvel superhero movie, it’s a safe bet people will come out to see it. That said, we’ve never seen anything like the reaction to “Black Panther, ” a film with a predominantly black cast set in a fictional African nation and not focused on one of Marvel’s leading characters.

The nearly universal praise for the cinema struck a nerve with director Ryan Coogler, who wrote a heartfelt message of gratitude that he shared with fans on Twitter 😛 TAGEND

“I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment but I will try, ” Coogler wrote, first thanking his casting and filmmaking crew for their contributions.

He thanked fans of all backgrounds for celebrating African culture.

Much of the attention paid to “Black Panther” has been on its massive box-office haul — and understandably so. However, what’s even more amazing is the sense of unity the film has created with fans. The creative liberty granted to Coogler by Disney and Marvel to craft his own vision clearly extended across the culture, something Coogler noted in his letter 😛 TAGEND

“Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to expend their fund and time watching our movie — but to see people of all backgrounds wearing garb that celebrates their heritage, taking paintings next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the foyers of theaters — moved me and my spouse to tears.”

Right now, the future seems limitless for Coogler, who is only 31 years old and has already made three iconic films.

“Black Panther” is just the third film for Coogler, who first explodes on the scene with his powerful drama “Fruitvale Station, ” which starred “Black Panther” co-star Michael B. Jordan. The pair reunited two years later for “Creed, ” a spinoff sequel in the “Rocky” film series that won over critics and performed above expectations at the box office. That helped set up Coogler’s involvement with “Black Panther.”

At this phase, it’s likely he could pretty much do any project he wanted, though his only formally announced follow-up is a much smaller affair: telling the true tale of an Atlanta teacher who takes a questionable path to procure more funding for his students. That movie, “Wrong Answer, ” reportedly will also star Jordan.

Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan. Photo by Gage Skidmore/ Flickr.

The outpouring of support for “Black Panther” shows that Coogler’s vision is reaching the right note for audiences throughout the world.

It’s unbelievably rare these days for any individual piece of content to strike a chord with so many spectators for so many reasons. With numerous vying outlets, even successful films, music, and books rarely reach more than a small fraction of the population. “Black Panther” shows that people can still come together to celebrate diverse tales, rich with meaning and a message of hope.

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She asked her young son about school shooting drills. His shocking response went viral.

Fritz Demopoulos, who co-founded Chinese travel portal Qunar and now induces early-stage startup investments through Queens Road Capital, said that if he had a single piece of advice for founders looking to pursue their China dreaming, it boils down to one word: Commitment.

Demopoulos was interviewed on-stage at TechCrunch Shenzhen, which we organized with TechNode. He noted that while some entrepreneurs want to focus on a project for one or two years, or want to focus on the Chinese opportunity for one or two years, the average company that goes public is a decade old.

To take that same analogy, you need to commit at least 10 years to the Chinese market, Demopoulos said.

After all, he described China as ruthlessly competitive and a highly dynamic market, with factors like mass immigration from the countryside to big cities and rapid growth in consumer spending and borrowing.

The market presents challenges for investors, too. For one thing, while venture capitalists love to claim that they invest in squads rather than products, Demopoulos said its harder to do this in China, where theres a Jack Ma effect while the Alibaba founder is one of the greatest founders in the last 200 years anywhere, hed previously struggled to find work and was even rejected from a job at KFC.

Traditional filters to assess highly capable people dont work in China, Demopoulos said. At Queens Road, he tries to deal with this by spending more day truly to know entrepreneurs the hours required by this approach can add up speedily( especially when multiplied across all the startups he gratifies with repeatedly before deciding not to invest ), but he said, We think thats likely the most wonderful way to understand someones capabilities.

While Demopoulos is based in Hong Kong, he invests across Southeast Asia. Outside of China, he said hes interested in countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, but he described Indonesia is first among equals. Thats because it has a young population in the early stages of consumerism and an Internet economy he said it resembles China 7 to 10 years ago.

Some models that worked in China 7 to 10 years ago might work today, he said. Its like taking a hour machine.


Since the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida, parents across the nation have been in a tough posture — discussing handgun safety with their children.

The threat of gun violence in schools has become a painful reality for millions of parents, whether they’re directly affected by recent school shootings or merely facing the possibility that their children could be in danger simply by showing up to class.

Tanai Benard, an lecturer from Texas, decided it was time to have an honest conversation with her fifth-grade son to find out what he knew, and didn’t know, about school shooting drills designed to keep students safe.

My 5th grader and I were conversing on the way to work/ school this morning. As an educator, I wanted to be sure he and…

Posted by Tanai Benard on Friday, February 16, 2018

Dez shocked and upset his Mom with what he already knew about handgun violence.

To her astonish, Dez said he and his fellow students had already practiced school shooting drills, going into painfully specific details about how they worked together to make a classroom safe during an active shooter incident.

“Yes, we practiced it, ” Dez told Tanai when she asked if they had practiced a lockdown drill in class.

“The teacher is supposed to to shut and lock the door, set the black paper over the window on the door. Then myself and three other boys are suppose to push the table against the door. After that all the class is going to stand behind us on the back wall.”

His willingness to put himself at risk to protect others initially upset her.

Tanai was frightened that her son, one of only two black children in his class, was being used as a potential human shield. However, before she lashed out, she decided to ask Dez why he was put in such a compromising stance and his answer was even more shocking.

“I internally went from 0 to 100 real quick, ” she wrote. “Why did you get picked to stand in front of everyone else if a shooter came in your school?

“I didn’t get picked, ” Dez answered. “I volunteered to push the table and protect my friends.”

“Dez why would you volunteer to do that? ” she asked.

“If it came down to it, I would rather be the one that died protecting my friends then have an entire class succumb and I be the only one that lived, ” he said .

Our children are paying attention. It’s up to us where that attention goes.

While the adults debate what to do about gun violence in our nation’s schools, young children are watching and waiting. It’s not a coincidence that the response of students from Parkland, Florida, has become a major national tale. Benard’s story showcases the best and worst of what we’re dealing with right now: the undeniable horror of gun violence and how it’s affecting millions of children across America. They will respond with invention and intelligence — kids almost always do. Now, it’s up to the adults to change the narrative of what these kids are responding to.

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Tonga’s oiled-up Olympic flag bearer is once again showing us how to be our best selves.

Tonga’s oiled-up, shirtless flag bearer is again captured the world’s adoring gaze during the Olympics opening ceremonies — this time, in frigid winter weather.

“I won’t freeze. I am from Tonga. We sailed across the Pacific. This is nothing, ” Pita Taufatofua told the Olympics’ news service. “It’s a little bit warmer being in Rio than in here … but anytime you get to represent your country is a good time.”

Photo by Jamie Squire/ Getty Images.

Taufatofua, 34, became a viral sensation during the 2016 Summer Olympics, and he’s doing it all over again. This time, audiences are in awe of his commitment to bearing the 32 -degree weather in Pyeongchang — without the benefit of a shirt or pants.

Fans from all over the world took to Twitter to root for Taufatofua and the country he represents.

Taufatofua is, in fact, the Single representative for Tonga — and he had to learn a completely new athletic just to compete .

Since Tonga is an island country, its Winter Olympic representation has been understandably sparse. But Taufatofua, who vied in taekwondo during the Rio Olympics, had his heart set on competing in 2018. To qualify for the Pyeongchang Games, he learned cross-country skiing in simply a year, all while living in a nation where it actually doesn’t snow. He said he’d never even considered snowfall until two years ago.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, ” he said about the sport.

But, inspiringly, all his training paid off — Taufatofua has become just the second athlete from Tonga to ever qualify for the Winter Olympics.

While U.S. athletes debate who should have carried their country’s flag, Taufatofua is just happy to be here .

Tonga’s inspiring tale contrasts with a disagreement surrounding the U.S. flag bearer. Gold-winning velocity skater Shani Davis skipped the ceremony after saying he was unfairly passed over in favor of luge competitor Erin Hamlin during a tie-breaking coin toss.

Meanwhile, Taufatofua is continuing to promote the message of life-changing inspiration that has attained him more than simply a pretty face to millions of fans around the globe.

The Olympics are about global unity. And nothing promotes harmony like an inspiring tale of overcoming adversity … and perfectly shined pecs.

In the hurry to collect gold medals, it’s easy to forget the games were created to foster peace and unity amongst the world’s nations. Even as we marvel at his impressive physique, it’s good to be reminded of Taufatofua’s bigger message: “It’s only an honor. I mean, how many countries in the Pacific get to go to a Winter Games? “

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Here’s the meaning behind the viral ‘Lucky Few’ tattoo.

There are a lot of reasons to get a tattoo — to honor a loved one, visualize a spiritual or life objective, or just for the aesthetic appeal.

( They do look pretty cool, after all .)

Tattoos can also symbolize that you belong to and identify deeply with a certain group — like the recently famous semicolon tattoo that signifies a person’s battle with depression or suicidal thoughts.

Now a group of moms is banding together with their own tattoos that symbolizes their family’s experience with Down syndrome.

A group of these moms lately satisfied up at a Ruby’s Rainbow retreat — a nonprofit that raises funds to get people with Down syndrome the education and training they need to succeed in the world — when they decided to get matching tattoos to celebrate their unique bond.

Designer Mica May was among those in the group, and she came up with a concept on the spot : three arrows stacked on top of each other .

They decided to call it the “Lucky Few” tattoo in reference to a popular volume about Down syndrome.

Photo via missdaleyteachessped/ Instagram, used in conjunction with permission

In an Instagram post, May wrote that the concept had come to her in a dreaming, though she initially wasn’t sure what it entail.

The other mommies noticed that the number three seemed to be incredibly symbolic of Down syndrome, also called trisomy 21, in which children are born with three copies of the 21 st chromosome.

This genetic irregularity puts people affected by Down syndrome at greater danger for certain health conditions and presents different challenges for them in the way they learn and move through the world.

Down syndrome affects about 6, 000 newborns in the United States ever year.

Photo via Instagram, used in conjunction with permission

Now the movement is going viral, with parents, educators, and loved ones of people with Down syndrome all over the country joining in.

People who acknowledge they never thought they’d get a tattoo are running under the needle to indicate their love and support for people affected by the syndrome.

Photo via cay_young_/ Instagram, used in conjunction with permission

Hundreds are taking to Instagram using the hashtag #theluckyfewtattoo to share their photos and stories.

Photo via kaiandmal/ Instagram, used with permission.

Some mothers have even organized mass tattoo-ing events in their area.

The Mightyreports that one group in California had over 260 local moms sign up to get the tattoo at the same local shop.

Photo by Nicole Eliason Photography, used with permission.

Photo by Nicole Eliason Photography, used in conjunction with permission.

Parenting a child with Down syndrome can be a tremendously difficult challenge. It can also be extremely rewarding.

The difficulties can be vast, but one survey found that parents of children with Down syndrome self-reported that their outlook on life was more positive than before, with the experience teaching them new depths of love and compassion.

Elle Westover, who shared her own tattoo on Instagram lately, put it like this: “The Arrows, because we can only launch forward after we have been pulled back and stretched.”

Photo via ellewestover/ Instagram, used with permission

There’s no overrating how much a sense of belonging can help people through hard time. The Lucky Few Tattoo is a constant, visual reminder for these parents of why the challenges are worth it.

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Sick of picture-perfect social media posts, a mom got real about the chaos of parenting.

Every parent has been there.

The sink is overflowing with dishes. Legos encompassed the entire floor, piercing your foot every time you take a step. And you suddenly realize that you’ve constructed the children chicken nuggets and mac n’ cheese five nights in a row.

Every parent has moments where it all seems to be spinning out of control.

But this isn’t momentary chaos. It doesn’t mean everything is unraveling. Turns out this might just has become a normal part of parenting.

Mom and blogger Danielle Silverstein lately made an “admission” on Facebook: “I truly AM a hot-mess mom.”

The post, on her page called Where the Eff is My Handbook ?, detailed a seemingly never-ending list of the ways in which her household is in utter shambles.

“Never once have I thought to myself, ‘OMG, I suppose I’m actually tackling this whole parenthood thing, ‘” she wrote.

She continued 😛 TAGEND

“I am that mama who doesn’t do dishes at night before I go to bed. I do dishes when I get around to doing dishes.

I’m that mom who grabs her kids’ clothes out of the dryer in the morning because nothing is folded and put away.

I’m that mom who forgets to send in kinds and get calls reminding me that, yes, I need to send in those forms.

I’m that mama who forgets to RSVP and gets a last minute text asking if my child is coming to the party.

I’m that mommy who packs a crazy, one-food-group lunch because I haven’t gotten around to running food shopping.

I’m that mom who lets her kids have endless screen period sometimes( ok, more than sometimes) simply because I don’t feel like struggle and need to get a few things done.”

You can read the entire hilarious and all-too-familiar post below 😛 TAGEND

Ok, full disclosure: I genuinely AM a hot-mess mom.

I am consistently five steps behind where I should be in the world of…

Posted by Where The Eff Is My Handbook on Thursday, January 25, 2018

Near the end of the now super-viral post, Silverstein reaches an important realization.

“Do I think I’m a good mom? Yeah, I really do. But I don’t have it all together by any stretch of the imagination, ” she writes. “And that’s ok, I’m realizing.”

Because, despite the overflowing sink and the overdue paperwork, creating happy, healthy kids is what it’s genuinely all about 😛 TAGEND

“I’m also that mama whose children are safe.

I’m also that mom whose kids are, for the most component, happy.

I’m also that mom whose home has lots of love and laughter.

I’m also that mommy who cheers on her kids and is their biggest fan.

I’m also that mom who is constantly working to show her children they are accepted no matter what.

I’m also that mama who takes her kids to do cool stuff and have great experiences.

I’m also that mommy who loves being a mom.”

The post has racked up thousands of shares and remarks from other mothers who want to say, “YES! THANK YOU! “

The truth is that it’s never been harder to be a mother. All the usual stuff is still there — the dirty diapers, the tantrums, the picky eaters — but in persons under the age of social media, when every other parent seems is thoroughly nailing it, the pressure to be “perfect” has never been higher.

Silverstein says enough is enough.

“We don’t deserve to feel down on ourselves, ” she writes in a Facebook message. “We deserve to feel celebrated. Our task is damn hard.”

( That’s not an excuse to not try, never feed your kids a single vegetable, or let them get away with whatever they want! But if you have some off-days, you’re forgiven .)

We need less carefully filtered Instagrams and more brutal franknes. Silverstein’s post was a much-needed rallying cry for mamas she calls “hot mess, ” but in reality are just overworked and under-appreciated.

So let’s all raise a glass( or a haphazardly washed sippy cup) to all the mothers out there barely holding it together. This one’s for you .

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Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to solve homelessness in England isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn says if his party were in power, they’d give every homeless person a house.

England has had a spike in its homeless population in recent years with an estimated 4,751 in the winter of 2017, an increase of 15% from the previous year. And while the U.K.’s next election isn’t until May 2022 — though a special election can be called and the Labour Party is leading the Tories right now — Corbyn says the answer is simple.

“[ We would] immediately purchase 8,000 properties across the country to give immediate housing to those people “that theyre” homeless, ” Corbyn told the BBC. “At the same day we would require local authorities to build far more.”

That means safe housing would be a guaranteed right for every person in the country.

Corbyn said the plan would empower local authorities to temporarily use vacant housing for “rough sleepers, ” aka homeless people, while more permanent shelters are constructed. He criticized developers who construct luxury properties and intentionally leave them unfilled even as the country grapplings with a growing homeless population 😛 TAGEND

“There is something grossly insulting about the idea you would build some luxury block and deliberately keep it empty. Surely we have to have a social objective and a social priority in our society? ”

Some on this side of the pond even agree with Corbyn, though the U.S. has a far greater number of homeless individuals nationwide.

That hasn’t stopped a handful of American cities from experimenting with similar approaches. In Chicago, a pilot program by the University of Illinois Hospital and the Center for Housing and Health placed 26 chronically homeless individuals into housing for the winter, with the thought that living indoors is cheaper than trying cold-related emergency medical services. The hospital invested $1,000 per month in supportive services for each person in the program, whereas a single day in the hospital’s emergency room can cost more than $3,000.

At the same time, housing isn’t the only factor in addressing the multiple issues homeless communities face. In Utah, initial reports about the success of a housing program have shown more mixed outcomes in hindsight, as state officials struggle to deal with an ever-evolving homeless population has an impact on a multitude of complicated factors — including the opioid crisis, mental illness, and economic challenges.

Homelessness is a serious issue. Mental illness, addiction, and poverty are real challenges that communities across America, the U.K ., and elsewhere have always fought with.

But sometimes the best solution is also the most simple : If you want to combat homelessness, give the homeless a place to live. It could save money and give people hope for a better life.

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It’s never too early to talk to your kids about sexual assault. Here’s how.

Sarah Shanley Hope’s story is frighteningly common.

As a kid, she went over to her neighbor’s home the working day to play with her best friend. While there, her friend’s older brother sexually assaulted both of them.

Hope was only 6 years old.

Being so young, she didn’t has been able to verbalize what happened or how to process it. She carried the pain with her for years, until she had daughters of her own.

She told her own girls from the beginning, “You’re in charge of your body.” But at times, the message seemed to ring hollow.

Mostly, Hope recalls her older daughter , now 8, rolling her eyes, having heard the refrain so many times before: “There goes mom being overprotective, again .

But the working day Hope got a call from school. A boy in the class had been caught inappropriately touching some of the girls. Her own daughter had even had a run-in with him.

“He kept hanging on me even after I said ‘stop’! It was so annoying, ” Hope recollects her daughter saying.

Hope decided that, finally, it was time to tell her daughter her own story — her own “Me Too” moment.

“I finally said, honey, the reason I’m paying such close attention to this is that mommy had an experience when I was a kid, where someone did something to my body that wasn’t OK.”

“I don’t want you to feel badly inside like I did, ” she continued, according to her impassioned post on Medium. “I want you to know that we can always talk about the hard and confounding stuff.”

An uncomfortable but, sadly, necessary conversation. You can watch what happens next in the video below 😛 TAGEND

7 might seem like a very young age to tackle such a weighty dialogue. But it might be necessary even earlier than that.

The National Center for Victims of Crime estimates that 20% of women( and 5-10% of men) recall an incident of sexual abuse as a child, with kids between 7 and 13 being the most vulnerable.

Those are frightening statistics for any mother, so horrifying that we might wish we could be with our kids every second of the day to protect them from the horrors of the world. But we can’t.

The best we can do is make sure they are aware of the threat and armed with knowledge about what to do if there is a requirement to help. That includes direct talks — like the ones Hope has had with her kids — and modeling proper boundaries in our own lives.

In Hope’s case, sharing her narrative has triggered a wave of positive change in her own community. She says several of her parent friends have called her recently for advice about how to have these conversations with their kids of all ages. And that’s definitely something we need more of.

“We can’t undo the harm, ” Hope writes. “What we can do is choose discomfort over conceal from the ache — or worse, repeating it.”

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Disappointed by where you are in life? This powerful message is for you.

You don’t need more motivating.

You don’t need to be inspired to action. You don’t need to read any more listings or posts about how you’re not doing enough.

We act as though we can read enough articles and Pinterest quotes and suddenly the little switching in our brain will push us into action. But here’s the thing that nobody truly talks about when it is necessary to success and motivating and willpower and goals and productivity and all those little buzzwords: You are as you are until you’re not .

You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.

And if you ask me, all we really need is this: permission to be wherever the fucking we are when we’re there.

You’re not a robot. You can’t merely conjure up motivation when you don’t have it.

Sometimes you’re “re going through” something. Sometimes life has happened.

Life! Remember life? Yeah, it teaches you things and sometimes stimulates you go the long way around for your biggest lessons. You don’t get to control everything.

You can wake up at 5 a.m. every day until you’re tired and broken, but if the words or the painting or the ideas don’t want to come to fruition, they won’t. You can show up every day with all your best intentions, but if it’s not the time, it’s only not the time. You need to give yourself permission to be a human being .

Sometimes the fiction isn’t ready to be written because you haven’t gratified the inspiration for your main character yet. Sometimes you need two more years of life experience before you can construct your masterpiece into something that they are able to feel real and true and raw to other people.

Sometimes you’re not falling in love because whatever it is you need to know about yourself is merely knowable through solitude. Sometimes you haven’t met your next collaborator. Sometimes your sadness encircles you because, the working day, it will be the opus upon which you construct your life.

Logically, we all know we can’t always bend life to our will. And yet we continue to try.

We try so hard to manipulate and control our lives, build ingenuity into a game to win, take shortcuts to success because others say they have, process feelings and uncertainty as if these are linear journeys.

You don’t get at game the system of your life. You simply don’t. You don’t get to control every outcome in an attempt to resist the uncertainty of something beyond what you understand. It’s the very basis of being present: showing up as you are in this moment and letting that be enough.

But we don’t do that. We fill every minute with productivity tools and read endless listings on how to better conquer our natural, human impulses. We forget that key concept: that we are as we are until we’re not. We are the same until we’ve changed.

We can improve things a bit — for example, by practising healthy habits and living our lives in a way that promotes growth — but we can’t game timing. Period is the one thing that we often forget to surrender to.

Most of our unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are.

We believe we have control — and our self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we should be able to change our circumstances, that we should be richer or hotter or better or happier.

While holding ourselves accountable is empowering, it can often lead to a rancour and bitterness toward ourselves that none of us need. We have to put in our best effort and then allow whatever happens to happen — and try not to feel so directly and vulnerably tied to outcomes. Possibilities often don’t show up in the way we think they will.

What you need is not the motivation or inspiration to create the life you want. You require less shame surrounding the idea that things are not inevitably perfect. You need to stop listening to people who are in vastly different places in “peoples lives” tell you that you’re only not doing or being enough.

You need to let day do its thing. You need to see lessons where you consider hurdles. You need to understand that what’s happening right now becomes inspiration subsequently. You need to see that wherever you are now guides and shapes your identity later.

There’s a magic beyond us that works in ways we can’t understand. We can’t game it. We can’t 10 -point list it. We can’t control it. We have to is letting it be, to take a step back for a moment, stop beating ourselves up into oblivion, and let the cogs turn as they will.

One day, this moment will make sense. Trust that.

Give yourself permission to trust that .

This piece originally appeared on Medium and is reprinted here with permission .

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A kid’s wrong answer to this riddle went viral. It shows a lot about how we process death.

Teacher Bret Turner thought he’d kick off the morning with his first-grade students utilizing a little riddle.

On the whiteboard in the front of the class, he scrawled it out in black marker 😛 TAGEND

“I am the beginning of everything, the end of everywhere. I’m the beginning of infinity, the end of day& space.”

One student created their hand, the first to venture a guess.

Now, the answer, of course, is the letter “E.”( Get it !?) But the student had a different idea.

“Death? “

Turner subsequently described the incident on Twitter in a post that’s now gone massively viral. “Such an frighten, somber, reflective hush fell over the class that I didn’t want to tell them that actually the answer is the letter ‘E’, which just seemed so banal in the moment, ” he wrote.

People on Twitter got a huge kick out of the somewhat dark, existential moment. But there might just be an important lesson buried in this story somewhere about how to process “the end.”

Many users who replied to the Tweet were impressed by the unnamed kid’s thoughtfulness and ability to understand the concept of death at such a young age.( How many first graders would peg demise as “the beginning of eternity? “)

But it turns out that children are becoming more perceptive than we give them credit for.

An article in National Geographic breaks down the three key truths that children must eventually learn about demise. First, that it’s irreversible ( people who die aren’t only on vacation ). Second, it makes your body non-functional ( people who are dead aren’t just asleep ). And third, it’s universal ( everything and everybody dies eventually ).

Some analyzes have shown that kids start to understand the concept as young as 3 years old and gradually learn to accept the many layers of it in the years that follow.

It takes time for anyone to fully comprehend the gravity and foreverness of demise. But we ought to learn to appreciate the whimsical, partial recognizing also that young children have.

Some Twitter users who read Turner’s account of the riddle accused the student in question of having a morbid personality or an unusual fascination with the macabre. After all, few adults would be brave enough to blurt out something so dark.

It’s a lot more likely the kid just hasn’t been conditioned to fear demise yet, to speak about it in hushed tones — if at all. This might be the same kind of kid who receives out his grandmother has died and says, casually, “Oh, OK. Bye, grandma! See you soon! “

When you think about it, that’s actually a pretty sweet and remarkably peaceful way of thinking about demise. So let’s stop rushing kids into having adult-sized worries about the world and let them detect it at their own pace.

As long as it devotes us funny moments like this one, anyway.

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I’m raising my child gender-neutral, and what I’ve learned is: It’s not enough.

When I prepared to become a mother for the first time in 2005, I was staunchly committed to raising my tiny new human in the most gender-neutral of ways.

We had opted to not learn his biological sexuality prior to his arrival, and registered for green and yellow newborn items, avoiding the stereotypical pink and blue at all costs. We declared that he would have access to all the colorings, dolls, and activities regardless of where they fell among societal gender norms. 12 years later, that child is an articulated, sensitive man-cub who is on the cusp of navigating gender and sexuality for himself for the first time.( Godspeed, kiddo ).

My second child, however, has been different. I raised both my kids gender-neutral, but Nova has espoused that in its full meaning, shunning gendered pronouns and styles in favor of being merely, well, Nova.

I’ve done a lot of growing and learning and evolving myself in both my parenting and politics along the way. In the past few years, what I’ve begun to realize is that, in many circumstances, these attempts at gender-neutral parenting may not be quite enough. In fact, I’ve been propelled from gender-neutral parenting and have landed on a call to action to break down the gender binary wholly .

In the first few years of life, Nova was just Nova.

Gender wasn’t precisely high on my list of concerns when it came to raising them. At 5 years old, my child already has lived and lost more than many folks do in their lifetimes.

Photo by Ashlee Dean Wells.

From a complicated pregnancy and surviving the death of their identical twin, to arriving 16 weeks premature and weighing only 1 pound, it’s fair to say that Nova has been fighting an uphill battle from the start. They continue to slay every obstacle in their path, but still, as a person living with special needs and permanent disabilities, there is a lot of autonomy they are forced to relinquish on a daily basis. I didn’t wishes to construct gender another option that Nova didn’t get at make for themselves.

Initially we use she/ her pronouns, and I set a dress on them every so often, but their gender still wasn’t a “thing.” We navigated our life and appointments, garment, toys, and activities in our typical neutral route while defaulting to “girl” here and there. Around their 3rd birthday, however, along with an explosion of speech and independence, came clear preferences that required more attention. They requested a new haircut that involved the word “bald” and refused to wear a dress “ever again.” Along with an even more androgynous appearance, new dialogues and trends in responses from our greater world began to emerge.

Seeing people react to and interact with Nova has taught me a lot about gender in the wider world.

In medical, social, and educational settings, I began to notice how differently people treated Nova when they presumed the latter are a son versus when they presumed the latter are a girl. When Nova was presumed a son, they were called “strong, brave, smart, funny.” When Nova was assumed a girl, they were called “sweet, delicate, cute, kind.” Different dialogue ensued, different possibilities were presented, there were different responses to behavior, and it was both fascinating and unsettling at the same time.

It wasn’t only adults though. Among children, Nova was often asked by other youth unless they are a son or a girl, to which Nova would( and still will) react, “I’m a Nova! ” or “I’m a human! ” When devoted this response, often, people of any age turn to me or the other mother and ask again, “Is Nova a son or a girl? ” To which we default back to Nova.

What surprised me is how frustrated and confused people are by Nova’s desire to be recognized free of gender.

I have watched adult humans grow visibility annoyed and have had multiple people tell me that they simply don’t know how to talk to Nova without first knowing their gender.

Photo by Ashlee Dean Wells.

It has been proven repeatedly that we treat even babies differently based on our hypothesis of their gender, but it’s perplex that the gender binary , norms, and expectations have such a stronghold on so many of us that we literally cannot communicate without their constructs .

Why is this?

I don’t have all the answers, and whatever they are, the answers are admittedly controversial and complex. What I do know, however, is that my household is one with a foundation of respect . The arbitrary concepts of gender are still beyond Nova’s grasp, but with so much in “peoples lives” out of their control, this seems like such an obvious and simple style we can choose to honor who they are. As they grow, develop, and ripen, we will continue to respect the ways in which they evolve and identify regardless of who they grow to be.

Over the past few months, there has been a natural progression of language in our home to refer to Nova with the non-binary/ neutral pronouns, they/ them, because language matters. Because by choosing or using female pronouns for them based on their genitalia and nothing else, we ARE gendering Nova and contributing to the binary ways in which others assure and respond to them, even if our goal is to remain gender neutral.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know where we go from here.

However, I do know that Nova has broken down the binary for me in such a simple route that I can’t pull myself back to it. In doing so, I’m not calling for a total elimination of gender, but instead an acknowledgment that neutrality may not be enough if our thinking is still rooted in a patriarchal binary that not everyone fits into .

Society may not yet be post-gender, but our home can easily be.

This story originally appeared in ravishly and is reprinted here with permission .

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