Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Princess and the Glass Hill

School started in early August.  Duh.  Each day I do my obligatory morning duty and make a pit stop in our office to pack up, before visiting multiple classrooms to teach Spanish.  Additional hours of instructional time have been added to my schedule meaning more students, more grading and less planning time.  I hear the guttural screams from some of our newer students and wonder if this is what I should be doing.

I don't have a car anymore.  Instead of paying another seven hundred dollars to fix the last round of problems, I sold it for three hundred and fifty and now use Alec's car.  The battery in it died early in the school year.  A hybrid battery, unlike a normal battery, costs about three thousand to replace.  In the interim of the crazy expensive repair, I had to Uber a bit to school and to the repair shop in Middle Earth Gwinnett.

"How old are you?" one driver asked.
"44"
"Do you want to go to the movies?"  he responded.
I looked out on the bleak, low-light landscape of super highway Gwinnett.  
"No, I'm partnered."
I was disturbed that my age was a factor in whether or not I went to the movies with him.   I also challenged myself to get out of the car as quickly as possible. 

Another Uber pulled up in front of the house around seven in the morning to take me to work.  Unlike the other cars from Uber, this guy's car had a smashed up windshield and we roared up to school taking the long way, rap blaring from the windows.  I stepped out, thanked and tipped him, while one of my favorite students ran up and introduced me to her Colombian dad.  I bet he liked my ride.

"Is 'dammit' a swear word?"  one of my students whispered.
"I guess technically, yes, it is....you know, one of the milder ones....."
"It's not so much different than 'screw you'" another student added, matter of factually.

I went to Target because I needed a new head for my toothbrush and a bra that didn't hurt.  I scoped out the bras and picked one and walked carefully to the dental care section.  As I walked through the store with a bra in my hand, I knew what would happen.  And it did.
"Maestra Wagner!"
"Hi!  Are  you shopping for Halloween?"
My student ran up to me, for a hug.  I gave her a left, side hug, hiding the bra in my right hand.  Her mother quickly approached, extending her right hand.  I quickly shifted the bra to my left hand, in order to shake her hand with my right.
"We love the school." the mom stated.
"I am so happy to hear that." I responded, and meant it. 

I started tutoring at a public housing authority, the projects, in late September.  It was a complex and competitive process to get the job and I am surprised they took me.   It is not altruistic, it pays pretty well.  I don't dread the eleven hour days like I thought I would, even though the kids totally buck me and no matter how I try, I feel like I am totally failing them.

My main 5th grade BFF, who was my former 4th grade BFF, spotted me in the complex, at "The Center" as they call it, and asked me what I was doing there.  She visits while I sit around during my morning and afternoon duty at school, which encompasses more than four hours of my work week. 
"I'm tutoring.  Some of my kids are a handful."  I answered.
"Do the bad ones wear one of these?" Fatima asked, tugging her hijab.
"No....."  I responded, feeling uncomfortable.  Most of my kids wore one of 'those', but they were not giving me trouble.  The American ones were. 
"Eh" she answered, jutting her chin upward.
"Are you the only white teacher there?"
It sounds stupid, but I didn't realize that she registered my race so much.
"Um, no, there is one other white lady there."  I had noticed the demographics of the teaching force, but hadn't realized that all of the kids were either Somali or African American, save for like one Iraqi and a Latino, until Fatima asked.
"I think they should mix it up.  It should be balanced.  Bye, I have to go!" she said with a smile and a side hug, and ran up the stairs to class.

So it goes.