Friday, November 18, 2011


I stared across the child sized,  too short table at Bobby.  He didn't smell like pee.  It was my only break of the day, a whole one hour for both lunch, planning, communicating with parents and whatever other fucked up thing popped up.  Ridiculous.  "Alright, Bobby.  You had a bad day in Spanish.  Now, you are going to have to do the work you should have been doing while you were...well, flipping out".  Yeah, flipping out.  Yelling, screaming, refusing to leave the room, shoving my hands away when I tried to hand you a paper.  Again.  A couple of days ago you threw a chair.  You've attacked most of your classmates, many in my presence.  Randomly.  You've freaked them out.  You've been dragged out of here before.  A lot of the sympathy I had felt for the pee clothes had dried up.  He needed to get his shit together.

"You're taking my recess!" he howled.  Yeah, he didn't buy my creative language at all.  I was totally taking his recess.  If I had had it my way, he would have been sitting on a bench watching the other kids play outside.   And I would be eating lunch in peace, without my least favorite student sitting across from me, taking an extra half an hour of my time.  We decided that we needed to present it to him as not taking recess, but making up for lost time.  And that, coincidentally, comes out of my time, though I had already taught his class once that day.  

"I'll tear it up!" he screamed, referring to the "work" in my hand.  His face was red, he was howling.  I watched the scene play out for a minute.  "You're faking" I finally stated.  He stopped on a dime.  And started laughing.  "Alright, here's your work.  I am going to eat my lunch.  I can sit at my desk, or sit at the table with you.  Which do you want?".  "The table" he answered.  "With you?" I asked, incredulous.


I spread out my Bento and started eating, seated in a Kindergartner's size chair.
"I have a fake spacer in my teeth" Bobby said, randomly.
"Open your mouth.  I saw something going on in there while you were screaming".   He opened it.  "That's a crown, what's up with that thing on the other side?"
"I put that in myself".
"What?  Okay Bobby, you do your own dental work?" I responded, gazing in to the silver shit bracing his teeth.

"Do you think tomatoes are gross?" I asked.  "Well, I'm eating the whole thing" I continued, not waiting for answer, while laying it on the crisp bread.  The Wasa kind.  The kind I like.  He actually didn't need help with the assignment.
"You read well" I mentioned.
"You know why?  I go to the Sylvan learning center"
"Really, how often?"
"Once a week.  And then we go to the shi-shi place afterward"
"The shi--shi place, what, some fancy place?"
"Yeah, the sushi place" he responded.

I thought of Emma, my beautiful, fourteen year old niece.  She has liked sushi from the time she was little, and would stuff little calamaris, legs and all, into her mouth on trips to Mexico, in little places with plastic tables while the admiring staff would smile at the cute rubia that would eat anything.   "You have sophisticated taste, Bobby.  Most six year olds won't eat sushi" I finally responded.
"My mom is teaching me to cook".  I was surprised by how articulate he was.
"Do you like that?"
"Yes.  She is teaching me to make sushi rolls".

Your family sounds nice, I thought.  It sounds almost normal.
"Do you have friends in your class?" I asked him.
"Bobby, you have hit a lot of them".  He nodded in agreement.    "And when you scream and mess up our whole class, it scares them.  They are sick of it." I responded.

He had finished his work.  I pulled out the reflection sheet,  the thing he had crumpled and destroyed both times before.  He grimaced.  "No, this isn't for you, I'm drawing what happened".  I drew stick figures, one for him, one for me.  Him screaming.   Me, looking like Judy Jetson.  I showed him step one.  "Take a reminder, Bobby," I advised, "it doesn't have to go to this" I continued, pointing to the drawing of him screaming, kicking, raging.  Attacking random kids.  Peeing on himself.   "What happens when it goes to step two at home?".   People say they beat the shit out of you.  Say it.  Say it.  "They don't let me go to sushi.  Or I don't get to cook with my mom".  Really?  Why has Family Services been called out a few times?  Why are you so fucked up?

"You kept asking to go to the bathroom.  You said it over and over.  You poked me, which I don't like.  I don't think you had to go to the bathroom.  I think you knew you were in trouble, and you wanted to get out of here".  He drew steam flowing out of my Judy Jetson's head.  "Yeah, it made me mad.  Is that why you did it, to see me get mad?".  "No," he answered "I didn't have to go to the bathroom.  It was what you said.  I wanted to get out of here". 

I took him back to his classroom.  My next class was lining up outside.  "Can you wait with them?" I asked their teacher, as I galloped down the stairs with Bobby.  He grabbed my hand.  I was surprised.  I held it.  I felt him pulling away when we reached the bottom of the stairwell.  "No," I told him, "I feel you trying to let go.  You're not getting away from me.  You are going to hold my hand and like it".  He did.

He will be the same demon he has been for a year and a half.  He is tricky.  He lies and he fakes.  I can't trust him.  But I want to.

He waved at me after school.  That was a first.

Will it change?  I doubt it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Music was playing over the intercom.  Kids from all grade levels began singing with it, singing some song I have never heard before but that they all seemed to know and like.  Sherman jumped up in his fuzzy, one-piece, footed pajamas and began doing a Pete Townsend-windmill with his arm.  "Dyno-mite!" Hands vs. Feet sang, along with the other kids.  We just kept calling the numbers.

I wheeled my stacked cart through the Buford Highway Farmer's Market.  I never use carts.  I don't like them. I generally just break my own arm off with an overstuffed basket before pushing one of those pinche things around.   I made an exception.  It looked like rolling Mexico, stocked with Day of the Dead bread, sémaforo candy, Mexican Coke and fresh tortillas and cream. It was gorgeous. 

I drove toward the city, stuffing a carne asada taco in my mouth.  It was my second.  "Excuse me..," an Asian man with accented English asked me from a neighboring car.  "where is Farmer's Market?".  I pointed with my thumb in the opposing direction and continued stuffing taco in my mouth.

As I walked around the park, a large, dark SUV rolled past, its back window quickly lowering.  I saw Curley's eyes looking out through the open space.  Even though I couldn't see the lower part of her face, I could tell she was smiling. 

I laid on my back, looking up at a sunny blue sky.  It almost hurt my eyes it was so bright.  I saw a full color image of the Virgen of Guadalupe, transposed over the blue, up in the sky.  It looked like the Virgen on the back of my Nuevo Laredo shirt.  I smelled roses.  And then I saw roses, circling and blooming around her in the sky.

They were red.  Red roses.

Friday, November 4, 2011

An Owl in a Dead Tree

"Try to guess why I got in trouble at school today" I instructed Alec.  "Yelling at a kid?  Being mean?" he asked.  "No" I answered.   "Being drunk in public?". "Not that".  "Your clothes?", "Nope", "Giving the kids cigar boxes?".  "No, none of the above, " I answered,  "rewards.  Rewarding them for academics". 

I walked down the dark sidewalk to school, tired, the morning after Halloween.  I could hear the lions roaring from the zoo.  I was wearing my pajamas.  And a robe.  I entered the school.  It looked like a hospital; teachers wandering around in robes and slippers, carrying coffee.  Kids in furry pajamas.  Me, in my Mexico jersey, pajama pants and dragon robe I bought in Vietnam.  I wore shoes.  I didn't want to mess up my slippers on the sidewalk. 

"Maestra Hilary DOES what she wants" one of the second graders commented in line.  "Now THAT'S what I'm talking about, Raymond" I said, nodding in agreement.  "And WE are ready to sing it" he answered.  

"How did it go today?" the cute teacher asked me.  "Well, Bobby menaced another kid today, but we were able to talk through it, and he didn't actually hit anyone," I answered,  "or bite".  "Great!" she answered.  "But he smells bad, like piss or something, shit," I whispered in her ear, "but he says he doesn't have to use the bathroom".  "He's wearing yesterday's pee clothes" she whispered back.  "What?".  "He pissed his pants yesterday and we put him in a change of clothes," she whispered, "his parents never cleaned out his backpack, and the pee clothes were still in there today.  He had another accident, and we had to put him in something". "That's disgusting" I replied, unsure if she realized that I didn't mean her actions were disgusting, but that any parent would allow their kid to walk around in piss stained clothes from the day before in addition to not even checking their six year old's backpack.  I looked at Bobby.  He pisses me off.  He acts like a dick.  He attacks everyone physically in class.  It's been going on a long time.  I stared at him.  No one should walk around in pee clothes.

There is something so wrong there I don't even know where to start.