My mayor stepped onto a plane headed for Mississippi to visit his family for Thanksgiving in the midst of a level-red, please-don’t-travel-Denver pandemic. My mayor graduated from the same high school as me. My mayor worked to shut down the high school he graduated from. My mayor told me I was racist for walking along a picket line after fighting for fifteen years for a decent wage. My mayor thinks education reform means shutting down the only good thing that most students have: a public, comprehensive school that accepts all students regardless of ability, ethnicity, or work ethic.
Is this why my Sleep Number tells me each morning that I have a shitty sleep score, that I have been restless most of the night?
Or is it because I brought an immigrant boy into my home, a boy who had never laid eyes on a computer, who, two months later, was forced to do online schooling for the duration of his time here because people like my mayor keep getting on planes?
Is it because I have four teenagers in my house, all at one level of depression or anxiety after nine months of pandemia, and I worry that if I don’t let them see their friends I am going to wake to their wrists slit, them hanging in a garage, a bullet to their head? That I spend my early morning hours walking my dog and playing, replaying every fucking scenario. If we get tested today and are negative and promise not to go anywhere or see anyone for two weeks, can they see their friends? But wait… won’t their friends and their friends’ families have to do the same? But wait… my husband has to go to work every day, so… But wait… I have to buy food for these endlessly hungry mouths, so… But wait…
I’m sure my mayor was thinking along the same lines when he threw our elected school board and our teachers under the bus for our superintendent’s sudden resignation.
During the strike, I was in charge of Valentines on day three. We were writing love notes to Susana Cordova. My job was to censor, to ensure no cuss words were present.
“But wait,” a teacher held up her, I’m-gathering-the-class’s attention-now finger, “What if I want to say, ‘Susana, I fucking love you'”?
And how could I say no? How could I explain to my mayor that Manual High School changed my life and opened my eyes to what the world could really look like, and why did he think he needed to shut it down?
How could I explain to my mayor that I, too, am a DPS graduate, and DID YOU EVEN HEAR WHAT WE WERE STRIKING ABOUT?
How could I explain to my mayor that I fell for his Democrat-reformer propositions, that I sent two of my girls to his beloved charter schools, that they were put in lines and held silent in the hallway and had to write essays in their hour-long detentions for forgetting a fucking eraser on a pencil???
That if you weren’t academically the best, you were just forgotten?
Maybe he wasn’t there with me last night, tossing and turning. Maybe he didn’t follow my girls to the public high school where the teachers take the time to get to know their students rather than teaching them a rote routine of conformity. Maybe he doesn’t understand that test scores–how he measures success–are meaningless to a teacher of immigrants whose students carry two languages, two cultures, two views of the world, two experiences in America, two lives insides their souls.
Maybe he’s never been outside of the bubble of Denver, the whitewashed, integrated Manual, the real world for our kids.
Maybe he hasn’t seen a sixth-grader have a panic attack because she forgot to put a proper MLA heading on a piece of notebook paper.
Maybe he haunts me in the night, two days before Thanksgiving. Maybe he has another agenda in his third, lame-duck term.
Maybe I should have Thanksgiving with my parents who live fifteen minutes away.
Or maybe I should just sit down. Breathe. And be grateful that I will always apologize when I have made a stupid choice, as a parent or a teacher, and not try to blame my mayor for taking away a wink of my sleep.