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Wednesday

11 Year Old Insight


Yesterday I shared 5.5 hours with 3 of my 115 precious angles angels. Just like last time, & by last time I mean Friday, I was expecting more, but these 3 have shown up consistently. One of them passed on 3 days in Pennsylvania with her sister to go to a 1 hr concert with me. That’s love.

We went to the Kennedy Center to check out Maimouna Youssef, who I’d introduced them to in class while discussing author’s/artist’s purpose. All of the kids were open off of her, & Watoto From the Nile, & took it upon themselves to research her, & them, on their own time. They even know all the POSITIVE words to their songs. Love it when that happens—when you can see a child want to know more. The concert was only the 2nd of an intended 3 outings related to the concept of hard work, possibilities, & a toss in with standards of beauty. None of what we saw looked anything like the typical vagina wagging these girls are used to in their “singers” & the “dancers” they come in contact with. & if I’d had the powers to change my Civic into a van, we would’ve made it to Richmond to see The Bluest Eye on stage. Ahhh well…

I’m straying. I don’t believe any of this was the point. Anywho…after Maimouna’s show, we went to dinner. We had Ethiopian. 1st, it was new to 2 out of 3 of them & I’m all about exposing children to new things. As I explained last night, if you don’t have any money, 1 way to expose yourself to other cultures is to eat their foods. From that came a discussion about starting a supper club so that we can try a new restaurant a month. It’s actually something I intended to do anyway, but that business of Winter came & sideswiped all my good intentions. 2nd, it’s more bang for the buck. For $25 & the price of an extra piece of fish, we all ate well. & they got to feel good about putting their dollars in towards the bill. They paid half & I got the rest.

Over mango juices & sambusas 1 of the girls, the more serious 1, asked me to look long & hard at her & write her future. Immediately I saw pencil skirts, white blouses & neckties (the way I’d actually do it, ironically) & platform heels. CEO. She wasn’t feelin’ it, wanting to be a dancer of the Hip Hop sort. Chase your dreams, Love, whatever they shall be. #2 smiled broadly, as she always does, & with a giggle behind the question, asked the same thing. Comedian or actress. All Day. She smiled even more broadly because I’d guessed right. #3 started opening her mouth to ask the same question & #1 & #2, along with me, said “ARTIST” in emphatic unison. #3 will clearly write/paint/draw/dance/create her way through life.

Of course the conversation wasn’t over. The girls had to let me know what they see me as. This was initially odd to me because 1 would assume that because I’m their teacher they would simply see me as what I already am to them. But we’re talking about children & they ALWAYS have a unique perspective to offer on this & that, from sneakers to hats. So, without fear & in hope of more laughter, I opened the floor for their take on my life. #2 said she sees me as a writer. HA! #3 said she sees me as a poet because I have an Open Mic-style voice. Go figure! I’ve always been annoyed by my voice & especially annoyed by the voices I’ve heard at Open Mics. Talk about “I put on,” & not for my city. I honestly don’t remember #2’s exact contribution, because I was distracted by her synopsis that followed. “You don’t seem like a teacher Ms. Tye Sunshyne. Your too laid back, nothing bothers you.”

Ahhh, kiddies, if you only knew.

Among other things that I took away from that conversation, & that I will keep for myself due to some of my readership, it did strike me that children see teachers as high strung, annoying, nit picking irritants who don’t know when to chill out. Hhhhhmmmm… Unfortunately, I could see that. I didn’t grow up with too many teachers that fit that profile. We had home training & understood that you didn’t show your ass at school. For the most part, I have VERY FEW memories of students who just regularly rubbed teachers wrong. It was boys making underarm fart noises or just telling jokes at the wrong time that got to the teachers. There weren’t any kids wild’n out with this plethora of WTF-type behavior issues. There weren’t even a lot of kids who had learning difficulties & we ALL did things the exact same way. & made it. I won’t go off on a tangent about how all these new education trends ain’t bout nuffin, but how something happening in families & homes is the root of much if not all of what we deal with in schools & how it’s a societal shift…. I said I’d spare you, right.

Start a new paragraph & regain focus. What I was tryna say is that the children often see pictures clearer than we do through our clouded adult eyes. One of my girlfriend’s children told me on Saturday that she wants to be a ballerina firefighter. What she doesn’t know is that her mommy, in our early twenties, wanted to be a French-speaking carpentress. I don’t feel like I’ve looked through the wrong side of the looking glass on my students. These 3 will follow exact, if not similar, tracks to what I’ve foreseen. The irony is that…the same may be said of me. I can’t wait to see what I’m going to be when I grow up.

Watch me move.

3 comments:

  1. Aweez, I really like this post. You inspire me to find some kids and take them under my wing....I'm still marinating on that right now. I <3 that they have a future planned out for you just like you've given consideration to what their futures will hold.

    On another note I must co-sign your breakdown of the root cause of school problems. Home life for many of these kids is not the business and as a result they show their entire ASS when they come to school. Besides a couple of incidents when I was in middle school I don't remember kids getting out of line with teachers. These kids today though, hell I don't know how you do it.

    Side note: What's the deal with so many kids with diagnosed conditions requiring meds? It seems like an excuse for bad behavior.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Girl, Thanks.

    1. Kids say the darndest things. That doesn't just mean wild & out the box. Children tend to be wiser than adults give them credit for. They WILL surprise you w/what they're able to see that you can't or haven't yet.

    2. I promise it will NOT end if I get started on this. There has GOT to be a societal shift in the respect for children, which will in turn afford parents certain benefits & amenities that might actually make it possible for them to focus more on the job of RAISING, not just having children. Within that shift will require some education of parents & care providers alike so that the common goal & how to work toward it is better laid out for all parties. Along w/that, & because of it, IMO, will come a return to the ideals that made education paramount. Families will understand the value of education & therefore respect it & the people who work with their children to provide it. Unfortunately, this system is designed to fail in order that the disenfranchised can remain just that.

    3. Consider the factors:
    --diets devoid of nutrients (vitamins & minerals) but rich in additives & hormones that cause a plethora of health & behavioral concerns
    --no one drinks water unless it's flavored, or they simply drink Drink
    --drive thru mentalities needing everything RIGHT NOW because you've been convinced you should have it (high speed everything, microwaved food)
    --children attached to technology 24/7 (mp3's, cell phones, comps, video games)
    --no longer able to do basic things like play
    outside
    --substandard health care to address issues at the onset or make use of specialized care for issues that require it

    So, like the health care industry, instead of getting to the root of a problem & trying to do away with the cause, we simply put a band aid on it. In this instance the band aid is diagnosing wild disorders that WE'VE created (ADD/ADHD/Asthma/Exzema, etc) & then medicating them so they don't get on our nerves too badly.

    Shit's crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As I've said before, I truly do appreciate what you are doing for these young women. I miss the days when my poor Corolla would strain at the weight of 5 or 6 8-13 year old girls piled in all types of semi-legal configurations with me at the front seat trying my best to navigate it all even though I had not quite figured out the directions. I've heard the "you're not like other teachers" refrain as well. One class a few years back took to calling me "Mama". They were a forgotten class. The mere mention of their homeroom would cause eyerolls and groans, but I somehow managed to reach them where they were and bring them to a place where others could carry them to higher ground.

    Oh, and about the ADD/ADHD bull hooey...They wanted to diagnose my baby as ADHD last year. I refused the diagnosis on the basis of HE WAS A 6 YEAR OLD BOY!!!!

    ReplyDelete