August 10, 2005

New School Year

The first day of school went well. Everyone got wonderful teachers and Bones got the one I requested.

This year we have some new students. The Catholic School about 20 minutes away from us closed at the end of last school year. It was not in a good neighborhood and was being heavily subsidized by the Diocese. It couldn't make it on its own and being in the bad neighborhood, it was having a hard time attracting families.

So... business reasons and all that... it was closed.

Twenty five of the students are coming to our school. I've been rather excited about it. We have a few black students at our school, but not many. I look at this as a great opportunity for diversity. Going to an all white Catholic school is not the real world by any stretch of the imagination.

So I've been looking forward to this, while still being nervous for the new kids as they're going to a new school, they loved their old school... and they're going to be minorities. They weren't a minority in their old school. They blended there.

I've been there. I've been the minority. I've been the new student. It's tough.

As I'm standing in Bones' classroom, I notice one of the new kids was at his table. I made sure Bones met him and told him he had to make the new child feel special as it is hard to be the new kid when everyone knows everyone else.

That goes for parents too.

I looked over in the corner and there were his folks... and they looked awful. She was practically wringing her hands. He would speak to the teacher, speak to his son, go stand by his wife. Then SHE would speak to the teacher, speak to her son, and go stand by her husband.

They weren't going to leave. They were sick about how he would fair. One black child. Twenty-six white faces. A new school. All strangers around him.

So I walked up to her and whispered in her ear, "I promise you, you got one of the best teachers in this school. I have requested her for all my children. I love her. She is affectionate, she teaches, she is structured... and she loves children. She never yells. She is always calm. And she loves her children. And her assistant hugs on the kids... all... day... long."

She got kind of teary and in her beautiful lilting Jamaican accent, she said something like, "Thank you so much for telling me that. I worry so. Look. He is the only black child here."

I replied, "Yes he is, but we love that he is here. I went to public schools and I want my children to be with children from every race. We have been looking forward to your coming."

I have high hopes. At these young ages, things aren't looked at the same way as when people are older. My sons asked me once why my next door neighbor's skin was so dark. My response was "Because his Mom and Dad's skin was. Just like you have blue eyes like I have blue eyes. Or you have brown hair like I have brown hair. The color of anything doesn't change who you are."

I am hoping to befriend these parents. They were nice. I have high hopes for this school year. Very high.

Posted by Boudicca at August 10, 2005 10:03 PM | TrackBack

My best friend in the world is a black woman --Stephanie. On my eldest daughter's first day of Kindergarten she came home soooooo excited because, as she said, "Mommy, now I am just like you -- I have a brown friend named Stephanie too! Can she be in our family like Aunt Steph?" It is in these small ways the world changes for the better..... :-)

Posted by: Richmond at August 10, 2005 10:59 PM

Good for you. I have said before on other site and will say here that we all bleed the same color. Until this nation is truely free of bias because of sex, color, religion, and sexual preference we will never be a truely free people. That doesn't mean each of us has to play the PC game and walk on tipity toes to keep from hurting peoples feelings. It means that we have to recognize that we are all part of the same human race and that not one of us is the same as another but yet we are all alike. Great writing. Thanks, Guy

Posted by: GUYK at August 11, 2005 12:04 AM

Elderspawn goes to a public school. Our neighborhood has asian, black, and hispanic kids he plays with all the time.

The skin color thing came up a few years ago and I explained what melanin was, and said that long ago some people's ancestors came from places in the world that were very hot and needed the extra melanin to protect their skin. And since their acestors had dark skin, they passed that down through the generations to their decendants. A simple, yet accurate, answer.

He was like "Oh. That makes sense." And that was the end of him caring about other people's skin color.

It's a non-issue to my son, the way it should be, and I want to keep it that way as long as possible. I've explained to him that some people will look down opon others because of skin color, but that they're complete idiots, and he agrees :)

Posted by: Graumagus at August 11, 2005 01:25 AM

That's so good to hear! Bones has such a big heart, I know he'll befriend this boy.

Posted by: Sissy at August 11, 2005 02:44 AM

That's what I like about Tara's Catholic school. We have children from Pakistan, Indonesia, China, Africa...but the parents of children from the Middle East do tend not to mix. I expect their stories are sad ones, and that they are nervous in today's climate.

Who knew Catholicism was so diverse? When I went to that same school, it was 99% Irish.

Posted by: Sally at August 11, 2005 06:27 AM

Hmm. The melanin thing is a good way for me to explain it further. Very good thinking, Grau. Bigotry starts at home... it is learned. There will be none of that in my home.

Sally- Funny thing. School started so early this year and it is still hotter than three hells. I saw the Coach last week and I said, "You need to send a note home to the parents explaining how hot it is this August and in general reminding them to put sunscreen on their kids before they go to school. Half these kids are Irish. They're going to FRY out there."

Florida sun is brutal.

Posted by: Bou at August 11, 2005 06:42 AM

Yes, I worry about bigotry. I am very happy that Tater has a black friend to play with most every week.

Posted by: vw bug at August 11, 2005 07:13 AM

During my last year in the Navy, my ship was in the yards and I was forced to live off-ship. Low income housing, but not in a REALLY bad neighborhood.

I was pretty much the only white guy there.

The chicks all thought I was cute & exotic-looking :-)

Posted by: Harvey at August 11, 2005 04:00 PM

so harvey...ARE you cute and exotic looking? LOL!

Bou...your kind words will probably never be forgotten by that mother. yay for being nice!

Posted by: Pam at August 11, 2005 07:09 PM

Again, you are such a good parent. Teaching by example is the best thing you can do. You should give "mommy" lessons...

Posted by: Jody Halsted at August 12, 2005 02:03 PM