all the kids

all the kids

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Nobel Prize

You know you've lost track of yourself when Disneyland is not fun, really. I was there yesterday and we go in January because it's not crowded and yet yesterday it was crowded, and it was noisy and there was waiting. And it seemed harder to do all that walking and running and feeding, maybe because there were more people and I suck in people's needs like I'm starving in the empathy department so here let me carry those bags for you. Even though wait, I'm tired.

The best ride aside from Space Mountain was not any ride, but the noodles on a bench ride I did with young 7 year old cousin who was too scared to go on Pirates. So I sat outside on a bench, I never sit at Disneyland and sitting is really good. We sat next to a 12 year old mom nursing a baby (okay, 22) and we saw her actual boob even though we didn't know her. And my little cousin is telling me when she was scared on Matterhorn because of the screaming snow monster she had to talk to herself because even after she passed it she could still hear it screaming at other people and it was still scaring her from far away. But what I liked was that 7 year olds have a lot of things figured out, and they're happy to sit on a bench and eat noodles. Because they don't feel the rushing of time, so much. They're just whooshing along IN the time. Meandering, really. The rest of us are arranging things just ahead of them so their meandering can be smooth.

It wasn't until I passed most of the day that I started to relax being there. Getting on space mountain at like 7 at night - being in that whirling world where there's just enough fun and excitement and speed and darkness and thrill - I started to have fun. Then we left. Oh but wait, the most fun was really not the rides, which is what I used to go for only -- it was chasing down Peter Pan and listening to Mary Poppins talk to Bess and the little cousins as she signed autographs for them. Even though they're just kids from Anaheim that dress up Disneyrific and get to act like animated movie stars for a job - their playfulness (Peter stealing Lilly's Peter Pan hat and running off and then her chasing him to get it back) - they made the kids feel like they were in a fairy tale - teased and part of the fun - this was best part of the trip, the people.

Then today at 7 am after Disney yesterday, body killing me, brain still fried, I get a sub call so I'm running to some school I don't know after making lunches for my kids and feeding horses, but in a way I don't want to be home, what could be harder than Disneyland, I can't feel my body or my mind, so zombie teaching is the way to go.

I get there and it's this demon class with only 8 kids. These kids show me what happens when you've been in school for five months and your teacher has been absent most of the time and you've had a string of terrible substitutes. The kids had no loyalty. No desire to please. No connection to success. They had no desire to respect the teacher. They had no manners. They were, in fact, the most terribly lost kids I'd ever seen.

But I'm only there six hours. There's only so much I can do. Sometimes the teaching isn't about the math or English, but about how to treat people. How to line up. How to listen. It's hard to be inspired when no one has taught you to behave, pay attention, and love where you are, first.

I did what I could do. Eventually I sent 3 kids out of the room for disrupting a million times. Then I was down to 5. I had to put one next to me. With 4 out in the room still, I had to stop and say HELLO. We're WORKING HERE. Every two minutes. It's like they were used to hanging from trees and throwing coconuts. They're in fifth grade!!

Finally almost at the end of the day, I decided that I would focus on the one girl who wanted to learn something instead of the 7 who didn't. Things got slightly easier. I got a hug from her at the end of the day. The poor kids, they just had no leader, so they were banshees.

Maybe the greatest moment was at one point I had them all on this tiny square of rug, and I was going to read them a little about Martin Luther King Jr. It took maybe a HALF an HOUR of me just sitting with the book OPEN, holding it UP, waiting for them to be quiet so I could read. I would start to read, interruption, I would stop. No lie. I got three words in, only. For half an HOUR. Finally they allowed me to read and it was like slogging through a mudslide of interruptions. At one point I was laughing because I had to read about when MLK Jr got awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for maintaining peace during strong adversity. I was holding up this book in this war zone by the rug, and I was grinning madly while reading those words suddenly because, amazingly, I was getting the Nobel Peace Prize, right then, right there, alongside my dead yet supreme buddy, Marty L King Jr. And he was proud of me.

Sometimes you just need the perspective, some irony, and a civil rights leader to find the joy. At Disneyland, and in hell.