Thursday, December 18, 2014

La Shine

I surveyed the leg wear of one of my favorite students.  Though it is clearly winter,  Bashmal continues to wear shorts, with a strange patch work of socks that he pulls up to his knees, while adding a second, tube-like layer to cover the actual knee, that he pulls as far up his thigh as he can.  Together, this intricate mesh covers his entire leg, while still allowing him to NOT wear pants.  "What's up with this, Bashmal?" I asked.
"I don't like them.  I just don't like pants." he answered.
"You know, I kind of feel you.  I'm not much of a pants-wearer either."
"I've noticed.  You're a skirt-wearer."
"True.  They are more comfortable.  With tights."

Mo, my cart-carrying twerker, has managed to add yet another name to his list of aliases.  He does this crazy Spanglish thing where he entirely fucks up the vocabulary we are supposed to be using.   When learning the word for donkey, he began saying "el donkey" instead of "burro".  When learning the word for mouse, he randomly started saying "el mouse".  For weeks the students would call him by these names, obviously to his liking.  His latest is "la shine".  I think it has a ring to it.

I tore down the road with bags full of Hanukkah treats and a Christmas tree on the roof of Alec's car.  I wanted to beat him home and hit up Hanukkah by sundown and was also GODDAMN sick of traffic and sneezing and hacking with my three-day old elementary school cold.

I am the one that initiated all of these festivities.  Alec and I are both agnostics at best and probably atheists, to be honest.  I am the one who embraced his ethnic celebrations because I think it is fun to buy him eight little presents, each to be unveiled one by one, every evening for over a week.  I buy a tree because I am a fan of string lights and the way the tree smells.  Well, and the novelty.  How often do you have a relatively live tree sitting in your living room, covered in lights, instead of just the normal crap in there?  Only a couple of weeks a year...

"PANTS!  I'm wearing PANTS!" Oliver shrieked in the hallway, pulling his pants giddily to the left and the right in display while sailing down the stairs with his sideways tilted smile on his face.
"YES!"  I called, "Yes you are!"

"Where is Tyrone?"  I asked the class.  "He is absent again?  Is he sick, everyone is sick."
"Tyrone doesn't go to school here anymore." several students announced.
"He wasn't in-district."
"NO.  No..."
"He will be back.  His parents will find an apartment and he will be back...." Kimmie stated, rising from her chair. 

As I practically jogged through the hall to my next class, I caught sight of Bashmal.  He looked like a totally normal kid.  He was wearing a long sleeved yellow t-shirt and ...... pants.
"Bashmal.  WHAT are you wearing?" I asked, horrified.
"Pants.  I am wearing pants.  I just gave in.  It was getting too cold, the socks too thin.  I am just going to do it."
I felt my heart plummet as he walked away. 

I slammed on my breaks and nearly hit the car in front of me.  I saw the trunk of the Christmas tree shoot out and nearly sail off of the top of the car toward the car I was trying not to hit.  Fuck.  I kept driving, slowly.  It slid back a little.  I slowly drove home, fearing the thing was going to fly off.  When I got home, the garbage collection thing was in the middle of the driveway.  The tree mother fucker had tied me into the car and I couldn't get out to move it.  I drove forward, pushing the big Herbie in with the car and clawing my way through the strings so that I could exit the automobile.  The tree was basically hanging on the passenger side of the car, suspended by strings.   I went in inside.

Alec loved his first night of Hanukkah gift.  I let him enjoy it and waited, then mentioned casually,

"By the way, can you help me get Christmas tree off of the top of your car....?.".

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Day at the Salon

"I'm givin' you a SCALP MASSAGE!" Alicia sang in a throaty voice, tinged with vibrato.  
How did this happen?
It began with Holly, randomly sidling up during the fly swatter game.
"Would you like a massage?" she asked, grinning.
"Why of course." I responded, thinking it might be funny.
Funny it was.
The little girl karate-chopped my back and squished my shoulders, all while I tried to judge the fly swatter game. 
Alicia rose up soon after, asking primly if I would like a "scalp massage".
"Oh okay, wow, I feel like I am at the spa."
Soon it turned into Holly giving me a 'massage', which was actually making me melt into the chair and Alicia singing her tune loudly while pulling my hair up into a tall snarl.  And kids hitting the whiteboard with fly swatters while I yelled out things in Spanish.
I looked behind me and four girls stood in a row, each 'massaging' each others shoulders.
'Please don't let me get observed, please don't let me get observed' I thought, as I giggled at the freak scene around me. 
And, it was only my first class of the day.

"How do you, you know, make friends with people?" Tyrone asked me, after pulling me out into the hall during class.  His head twitched a little to the right.
I wondered what he meant, did he mean when he sidled up to Kimmie and asked her if she wanted to
'be his friend' or just like, making friends in general?
"Well, you just sort of hang out with them, play Four Square or something and see who appeals to you."
"But how do you ask them to be friends?" he responded, eyebrows furrowed and again, a strange pull on his lower lip, sucking it into his mouth.
"Well, you don't have to make it official, people just know."
"What does official mean?"
"Well like, you don't have to ask.  You just hang around with the people you like hanging out with and that enjoy being around you too."
He looked confused.

He had been separating himself in the cafeteria.  At first he said it was because of Kimmie and would sit with tears in his eyes alone at a table.  Now he said that he didn't know how to approach any of the kids.

"So....," Fulton informed me, leaning in, eyes glowing, "we went to Toledo.  There was a lot of snow."
"Why did you go to Toledo?"
"Well, my Grandma broke her neck." he responded, emotionless.  

"The facial ticks, the inability to read, I don't know how to tell his parents that he needs to see a doctor without getting sued.  He is not getting ANY services." his teacher informed me, exasperated.
"NONE?  He's not getting reading support, special ed anything?  He is GENERAL ED?"  I asked, feeling my own eyes about to get wet.
"Correct." she answered.  

"Where's Oliver?" I heard his parapro ask the secretary.  It was after the bell.
"I think I see him right now."
I heard the door open.  Numerous voices greeted him.  Everyone loves Oliver, believe me.  I am not the only fan.

"They finally got him to a doctor.  He has a neurological disorder and is on a first grade reading level.  There is no way this disorder popped up over night.  Why wasn't it diagnosed before?  Was it there before or did he have a head injury?!"  The teacher's eyes were bulging.
"Please tell me the wheels are rolling now.  He may not be special ed.  His injury or syndrome might be impairing his ability to learn.  He needs a 504, we need accommodations....."  I was prattling on now too, anxious. 

"Good morning, Oliver." I heard our principal greet.
"Answer him, Oliver." his parapro, Marsha, instructed.
"Running late this morning?" our principal continued.
"YES." Oliver responded in his characteristic flat, yet emphatic way.
"Why don't you go eat some breakfast before going to class."
"Okay, why don't you just take a second then to wash your face and hands before heading up."

"I'm givin' you a SCALP MASSAGE!" ran through my head like a jingle of a commercial.  My co-worker Michelle

and I combed over the IB website, after the kids had been dismissed. 
"I have one last announcement."
Oh no, there are never announcements after school.
"Looks like we are having a little plumbing work done and the water is going to be shut off for a few hours.  I would like to advise you to......."
Go to the bathroom, fast?

Monday, December 1, 2014


"I'm not sure what I am going to do with all of this vacation time...."
"Maybe Steve will let you meet Son of Sam."
"Right!  There is no way Steve would share him with us."
Our friend Steve had struck up a friendship with Son of Sam.  He was being held close to Steve's job in downtown Atlanta and the two had taken to eating lunch together several times a week.
In my mind's eye, I seemed to remember seeing Steve and Son of Sam lunching at an outdoor eatery.  Steve was speaking intently about something and Son of Sam looked exactly as he had upon capture, crazy eyes and all, while listening to Steve at the outdoor table.

I watched Oliver walk across the lunch room.  He saw me watching him and carefully pressed his curly hair closer to his head, then entered the lunch line.

"Teachers!  I want you to pick one student from your class that really knows how to shake it," the performer of the assembly announced, "and really knows how to follow directions."
My eyes gazed on Mo, the boy who had been caught twerking in class and had taken my giant cart full of dictionaries on a tour of the school, including an elevator ride and a trip down the stairs, when simply asked to carry a box of dictionaries from the cart to the classroom.  The class started screaming when I picked him.
"You picked the opposite!" a girl howled.
"I know" I said, feeling wicked.  Mo did look hilarious when he danced around and I was dying to see what would happen with him on the stage. 

I woke up.
"Alec," I said, giggling.  Though it was the middle of the night I knew he was awake.
"I had a dream that Steve was friends with David Berkowitz.  I don't know why but we never used his name in the dream, just called him Son of Sam.  I remember when I was waking up wondering how Son of Sam was able to just check in and out of jail to go out to lunch with Steve.  It was never established how the met either....."
I heard Alec laughing into his pillow.  Lola rolled over and huffed. 

Mo was easily the funniest kid up there, insane facial expressions and hilarious dance moves.  When asked to imitate his teacher playing soccer, I became nervous.

Mo smoothed his short hair down as if it was the length of mine, gave a few head flips and dramatically kicked an imaginary soccer ball, all while shaking around like a model on a runway.

It was a great way to start a Monday.