Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I don't have to go to work on Mondays, and I invariably end up spending most of the day at the kids' school.

I am especially enjoying the time in son D's Kindergarten class. I get to help out with math groups. Kindergarten math - I should be able to handle that, right?

The group I'm with most consists of three of the most adorable children in the universe. But they don't speak English. Two are Hmong and the other just moved from Africa.

It's a comedy of errors, me trying to teach them math concepts. I have to throw my whole body into explaining the difference between "big" and "small." I count on my fingers. I draw pictures of everything.

These kids aren't dumb - they are far from it. But it takes me 30 minutes to make a connection that "9" = nine = 9 fingers held up = (insert picture of nine cats here.) Finally, one of them gets it. Her entire face erupts in smiles, she squeals and we high-five each other. (nine times.) You would think she just got into Harvard - she is that excited.

Sometimes, the teacher gives me the group with my son in it. The group that is counting to 500 and doing complicated addition and subtraction. Don't get me wrong, I love working with my son. But no one in his group squeals with glee when they get a problem right. No one really struggles with anything, they seem genetically programed to get everything right. Their parents are lawyers, doctors and engineers. Success is all they know. I don't have to draw nine cats. I don't have to count nine fingers.

Lots of people complain about the immigrants at our school. They try hard not to make it sound racist, they cloak it in complaining about "poverty." And yes, poverty does bring problems. Lots of them. I can't sugar-coat that.

But I have to believe that the immigrants at our school are also bringing something good. I can't put it into words, exactly. But it makes me want to high-five, squeal with delight and draw lots and lots of cats.


Jennifer said...

This made me smile. You rock!

LisaS said...

funny, my officemate and I were having this exact conversation regarding the parochial school her daughters attend. as in, why so many families are shifting allegiance to the next parish school west. Where does it end??