Hoods

Because I’m supposed to be watching a Spanish crap TV show right now and reading a Spanish book. Because I have a moment. The first one in ten weeks. Where I can sit back and breathe… And suck it all in. And think about all I haven’t done, all I have ever wanted to do. Because life is supposed to be perfect now that I live in this castle.

Never mind the kid who mumbled, “I hate this class.”

The daughter who dropped the garage door to the netherworld, the never-to-be-opened-again purgatory we’re all trapped in.

The Internet that wouldn’t work for half the day, ruining my entire team’s lessons and setting our high expectations for student success back three weeks… because that’s the next time the computers are free.

The youngest, in fourth grade, who has to do a full-on science fair project, a poetry anthology with twenty poems completely analyzed, illustrated, and with a Works Cited MLA-formatted bibliography … AND read 57 pages in a novel a week, do twenty math problems a night, and fight with her tiny face in the mirror at the top of her alley-product “desk” about what she can accomplish at the ripe old age of nine.

That kid in my class who comes every day and won’t even lift a pencil. Who won’t respond to questions. Who won’t look me in the eye. Who won’t, who won’t, who won’t.

And the part of me that will never understand why he and she and they don’t have it built into their capillaries this work, work, work ethic.

Because I’ve failed. I’m failing. I’m failing at this. This teacherhood. This motherhood. This homeownership-hood. This hood that masks our lives, that covers up who we really are as we place ourselves into tiny boxes that will never quite close.

And it’s only Wednesday.

And I want to go to bed tonight thinking about M, the boy in my class who sat head down for half the lesson, and wouldn’t write down a single question. Yet I called on him anyway, and he glared at me, and snapped back, “Why me? You know I don’t have any questions.” And D, the Afghani-trek-across-Iraq-to-Turkey-survivor, shouting across, “Come on, M, you can do it,” and the smile I forced on my face as I said, “But I know you CAN make good questions” and all twenty-seven of them waited, and he asked, “What would the world be like without guns?” and I thanked him and moved onto the next kid and by the end of class, he came up to me proudly, all ten questions filled in, even answers, to show me he could do it… Which I already knew he could.

And I want to go to bed tonight thinking about their goofy faces. Spoons over eyes waiting to lap up Bonnie Brae Ice Cream at this new restaurant in my new ‘hood… because BBIC follows me everywhere, and because they are kids. Kids who slam down garage doors and fail math tests and forget to bring home books and play with dolls and fight each other over who gets to see the mirror in the restaurant bathroom and race each other to the car and put spoons over their eyes like aliens. Kids who live, fully live, their childhood.

   
 And this ‘hood is my ‘hood, my home, my home.

And I want to go to bed tonight thinking about El Amante Turco, and all the hours I’ve spent listening to Esmeralda Santiago’s soothing Puerto Rican accent, and all the words I’ve learned and bilingualism I’ve infused, morning noon and night, even if it isn’t what my Spanish teacher told me to listen to.

And I want to go to bed tonight underneath a hood big enough to cover my broken-down, brand-spankin-new, seventeen-year-wait king size bed. One that will cover me up, block out the light, and remind me of the dawn that will break through tomorrow.

Because there’s always tomorrow.

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