You all are the best. No. I mean it. THE BEST.
After I wrote about the trials and tribulations of our first week of school, so many of you reached out to check on us, left comments on my blog and shared your support through social media.
Here’s an update.
C.J. continues to carry his lunch to school in a brown paper bag instead of his much-desired pink-heart-monkey lunchbox. He knows that he can take the lunchbox at any time, but he now prefers the bag. Here’s why: when it’s time for lunch, he has to carry his lunchbox across campus to the tables to eat. When he’s done eating, he has to carry his lunchbox to his classroom number that is painted on the ground by the playground. When the end-of-lunch bell rings, he has to go retrieve his lunchbox from his room number and walk to his classroom.
If you aren’t familiar with new first graders, this process can be daunting. He has realized that with a brown lunch bag, he can carry it to the lunch tables, eat his lunch and toss the whole damn thing in the trash and get to the playground without having to remember things like his room number or his belongings.
The brown lunch bag is easy. Is the ease of use the only reason why he is using it instead of the pink-heart-monkey lunchbox? I’m sure it’s not. But, we are okay with that for right now.
Kids continue to ask him why he is carrying a girl’s backpack and tell him that he can’t use it because it is for girls. He honestly doesn’t seem hurt by the remarks; it seems more like he’s just annoyed by them at this point. To give the naysayers something more to talk about, this week he added to his backpack a key chain from Justice that looks like a pink locker. So, there. Feast your eyes on that double display of femininity.
As for C.J.’s Brother Chase, after I reported the racist remarks that he heard and the homophobic slurs and bullying that he endured, both offending classmates were talked to individually and the teacher told me that the next day she would talk to the entire class about acceptance and equality. At the end of the second week of school, I asked Chase if his teacher had talked to the class about acceptance, equality, tolerance, racism or the LGBTQ community.
“No,” he said and went back to watching iOS 7 load slowly onto his iPad mini.
“So, at no time this week did she talk about being nice and accepting everyone or anything like that?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah, wait a minute, she did. Out of nowhere she said what if one day we all went to school and she said that everybody with blue eyes was bad and lesser than and couldn’t talk to anybody else or eat or play with everybody else and weren’t as smart. Everybody thought that would suck and we all looked for the people with blue eyes. Then, she said what if the next day we came to school and she said everybody with brown eyes was dumb and bad and couldn’t hang out with everybody else and blue-eyed people were okay again. It was kind of confusing, but it doesn’t matter because I have hazel eyes, so I was cool no matter what.”
I just looked at him. I’m sure he wasn’t relaying the lesson wonderfully and I was wondering how I expected the teacher to address acceptance and equality with a fifth grade class.
“What?” he said looking at me.
“And, what did the other kids in class say?”
“They said they would just wear sunglasses or keep their eyes shut so that they wouldn’t have to deal with it,” he said looking back down at his iPad.
“But that’s like a gay person being in the closet and not being true to themselves. Or your brother having to conform just to get by,” I said, thinking out loud.
Chase shrugged his shoulders and walked into the other room. The conversation was over, I guess.
C.J.’s First Grade Self-Portrait. Heavy on the eyeliner and lipstick apparently.
One thing I did do, at the suggestion of one of you, was ask the teacher if the parents of the two kids who had specifically been the problem had been notified of their child’s behavior. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to ask this, but I let her know that if my child ever needed one-on-one discipline or was using racist, homophobic or hate speech that I would want to know.
The answer was yes. The parents had been made aware. I would be mortified, but what if they felt that their child was justified to speak freely about their opinions?
I got up and left the room too, I needed the conversation in my head to end.
The final days of last week and the first days of this week have been largely uneventful. Which is just the way I like my days to be most of the time.