Photo: Joshua Huston
Last Christmas, Anthony Battiste and his four sons — Chris 9, Anthony, 5, Abraham, 4, and Alvin, 2 — spent the holiday in a homeless shelter. After he and his wife separated and she moved to California, Battiste was left with one income and too many expenses. Though he tried to make ends meet with his earnings as a roofer, after a couple of months the family was evicted from their rental in Tacoma.
There were many times when Battiste had to choose between providing food for the children and paying for a hotel room. Despite his best efforts, the family sometimes had no choice but to sleep in their vehicle.
“It was trying, but at the same time it was binding,” says Battiste. “It presented an opportunity for me and the boys to become a strong cadre, leaning and depending on each other to get through the hard times.”
Photo: Joshua Huston
When Tripat Singh and Jasmine Marwaha were growing up together in North Seattle in the early 1980s, there were only about 20 other Sikh families in the area and a single gurdwara (place of worship). They fell in love while Jasmine was studying law at Harvard and married soon after. The Central District couple are now raising their 4-year-old son, Kabir Singh, and 4-month-old daughter, Sahiba Kaur, in a large, dynamic Sikh community.
Sikhism was born in the Punjab region of northern India during an era of extreme class inequality. “The turban used to be worn only by kings and royalty,” says Singh, a clinical practitioner of Eastern medicine. “Sikhs started wearing it as a way of giving the finger to the government. The circumstances you are born into aren’t what you have to be relegated to for the rest of your life.”
Whether baking family recipes, crafting decorations, or dressing up as dinosaurs, these local families know how to put the happy into the holidays. From an “A-Team”-inspired celebration to a Sikh musical tradition to a recently homeless family making merry in a new home, the holiday season in Seattle is as multifarious as it is memorable.
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Photo: Ian Couch
When Annie Yu leaves for work in the morning, she takes her briefcase, her keys … and her baby.
Yu is an attorney in the state Attorney General’s Office, where the Infant at Work Program was introduced this year. Approved employees are allowed to bring in babies, from 6 weeks to 6 months, for the full workday.
While Yu works, her 5-month-old baby, Hadley, plays on the floor, snuggles in a front carrier, or naps in a Rock ’n Play. Two co-workers are officially designated to trade off watching the baby when Yu attends a meeting, but many others are eager to volunteer.
“It was a really cool experience to be sitting at a professional table that I belonged at, doing important work, but to also know that my baby was only 100 yards away,” says Yu.
More than 2,100 babies in over 200 organizations have been successfully brought to work nationwide through the program, according to the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.
“I think it’s made me more productive because it’s really boosted my overall job satisfaction,” says attorney Natalie King, another parent who is utilizing the program.
Research shows that well-structured babies-at-work programs result in numerous organizational benefits, including higher morale, increased teamwork and lower employee turnover.
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Excited to share a few gems from my first issue as Editor of Seattle’s Child magazine! Proud to feature artist and activist Aleksa Manila on the cover talking about her Drag Queen Story Hour! We also have an infants at work program feature, a Seattle reggae artist profile and tips on how to avoid food waste! Pick up a copy at your local Seattle library or subscribe here.
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Best known for his standup in the United Kingdom, Romesh Ranganathan was working as a high school math teacher before deciding to pursue his lifelong passion for comedy. Over the course of five years, Romesh went from performing pub gigs to becoming one of the UK’s most popular performers. After selling out theaters all over England and touring Australia, he decided to move his wife, mother, and three kids to Los Angeles and try to make it big in America. He recently made his late night standup debut in the US on The Late Late Show with James Corden, and he set the bar high for himself straight out the gate by buying the 5,900-seat Greek Theatre in Los Angeles to put up a show he’s calling Romesh in America, which takes place tomorrow night. He hasn’t sold too many tickets yet, but he hopes if he builds it, they will come. I talked to Romesh about his Sri Lankan heritage, making the jump from teacher to comic, and how US audiences compare to the UK.
Photo: Joshua Huston
“By the time Jackie Moffitt was 16, he had transferred schools four times and was longing for a community where he could be accepted as his authentic self — an autistic person. “Autistic people are very dehumanized in our society,” says Moffitt. “They are perceived as being incapable of emotions. People are surprised that people with autism can understand humor or love. They assume that having autism means a lack of desire to connect with other human beings.”
Seeking this connection, Moffitt discovered Theater of Possibility (TOP), a theater arts program based in Seattle and Bellevue serving kids who are “quirky, spirited, or shy or who may have Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, or other learning or ability differences,” as the demographic is described on the TOP website.
Through theater games, improvisation, and role-playing led by TOP Director Lauren Goldman Marshall, Moffitt learned to embrace many of his personal attributes like extreme extroversion and abstract thinking that he’d previously felt pressure to repress.
“A lot of times for kids with disabilities their whole life is about people telling them what they’re deficient in,” says Marshall, who co-founded TOP in the years after her own daughter was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. “With TOP, they are here first and foremost to have fun and create theater together. I’m definitely highlighting relationship skills, but it’s brought in more through the back door. It’s about making kids feel successful.”
Now 21, Moffitt works as a teacher’s assistant at TOP, supporting the next generation of autistic children as they learn and grow while they also reach a level of self-acceptance.
“It’s not just about autistic people needing to learn neurotypical social skills so they can pass in a world that is majority non-autistic people,” says Moffitt. “I think that neurotypical people should also learn how to empathize with autistic people’s perspective and communicate with them on their own terms.”