This is a story from my favorite class of all, lately: a post-ESL class made of kids who no longer need English as a Second Language instruction, but still need to be grouped together in a special, labeled English class, for some reason. Love me some public school.
Anyway, they were the best bunch of kids ever. They just weren’t in a hurry to read The Scarlet Ibis. So I tried to trick them into being interested: I sparked up a discussion about the differences between types of people. You know, the disabled-kid-in-Ibis-versus-his-jocky-prick-of-an-older-brother kind of thing. That’s the path that led to this conversational gem.
Mexican kid who keeps saying, “I’m doing the work, Senora Etler,” as he moves from one seat to another in a zigzag pattern around the classroom: “You know white people?”
Senora Etler: “Well, I guess I do know white people, yeah.”
Zigzag Kid: “You know how they get? When they don’t eat breakfast? They get all saaaad, and depresssed…”
I’m not too white to admit that I jetted snots onto his desktop, laughing at that. ‘Cause girl, you know it’s true. Really. What is it with white people and their “problems”?
The ZigZag Kid broke it down for me. “Their parents taught them that. When you’re a kid in Mexico? When you get hurt? You learn that you have to just deal with it. No Bandaid for you. So you just keep on playing.”
He’s totally right. Middle classers get to kvetch about the smallest, stupidest stuff, because they have nothing bigger to be miserable over.
Meanwhile, my boy ZZ’s a visionary. That afternoon, as I’m editing my WhiteGirl friend’s manuscript, I come across this line: “I hadn’t eaten anything that morning. My stomach was furious.” And then–then!–I’m flipping through Cracker Life magazine and discover the fine piece of craftsmanship you see above.
So I’ve got my Bandaids stockpiled. Just, how long’s the drive to Mexico, again?
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