Roots, Radicals, Reese’s Pieces

As a full time mom, I get to chaperone a lot of the school field trips for my boys’ class. I get a kick out of them. While getting to know my son’s classmates and teachers is a huge perk, the real bonus is in watching them act like monkeys who escaped from the zoo.

Recently, we went to the Queens County farm, where they took a “Colonial Kitchen” workshop in a farmhouse. During the presentation, these 4th graders learned about life in the Colonial days – how children did chores all day, ate after all the adults were finished, married early, caught on fire easily and hardly had sugar.

No sugar?!

Kids and their priorities. They were put to work during the workshop, cutting the farm’s fresh vegetables, making cornbread with molasses (remember, no sugar), churning butter from cream. When it was all done, only two kids actually finished their cups of soup – the rest preferred to finish off their 30 oz bottle of Gatorade and barbecue flavored chips.

You only live once, I suppose. Fresh food isn’t a novelty to them when we have three supermarkets in a five block radius who all sell organic produce.

Damned kids – I thought the soup was delicious and had two helpings – screw them. Then again, it was a mere five degrees outside and the class voted to go see the frozen cow while the soup cooked. Dumb cow.

In the end, what I learned was – I could never work on a farm. But somebody has to. Somebody has to know how to grow potatoes. I mean out of the 28 kids in the class, only one knew that flint rock and steel was a way to start a fire. And he wasn’t even a scout.

It’s sad when you think about it, how little city folk know about surviving and how even less they can pass on to their kids. I could teach my kids how to get anywhere by subway but outdoors, I couldn’t guide them to the North Star unless there was a huge white arrow pointed to it. But at least I know it’s crucial to find it if you’re lost.

These kids? Well, the instructor asked the students what sweeter they thought replaced sugar in Colonial days, as a hint she said it starts with an M and rhymes with glasses. All the kids searched the furthest corner of their 4’x5′ brain and one kid stuck up his arm like he was having a stroke.

“Peanut butter!”

I clawed at my face and thought, we’re all gonna die.

See - Men do belong in the kitchen

See – Men do belong in the kitchen



Sibling Priority

Zuki did it. He got his little brother into his school. A big thank you goes to our Parent Coordinator, who among other miracles, made this dream a reality. After two years of looking for a way in, sibling priority overruled zoning – now both my boys are in the same school.

I admit, the past two years and three weeks were great for the little guy in the other school. He made really good friends, learned from excellent teachers and a developed a keen system of singling out the nicer lunch ladies. But there’s nothing like having siblings in the same school. If I had to describe how full my heart felt, seeing my two guys entering the schoolyard together, I’d say it was like an MSG heart attack. Damn you, House Special soup!

Three days in and Samu was already ecstatic that he had music class. With a real music teacher – who also taught Zuki. So I asked Samu if the teacher knew he was Zuki’s little brother.

Samu said, “Yeah, he knows – he said, Zuki is a nice boy.”

And I sighed because any time a teacher had my younger sister after they taught me, they’d say something like, “Better not do what your big sister done.”

Samu studied my smiling face and said, “You know what I told him? I said, No he’s not! Ha, ha, ha, haaaaa!”

As I watched Samu’s scrawny legs take off, still laughing with that toothless gap of a mouth wide open and succumbing to his nervous tick of punching himself in the stomach, I thought how much Zuki is going to love bumping into his wretched little brother in the hallways. Just love it, yeah.



Driving Instructor

It’s hard to believe my baby is in the fourth grade. He had a very tumultuous two years, not just with school but with family as well and despite all that – he passed. He’s grown up in ways I didn’t think possible – strengths that only ordeals can shape. In that sense, you have to appreciate people who try to fuck your shit up and force you to prove that you don’t go down that easy.

For the first time since these boys started school, I was the nervous wreck on the first day – Zuki was ready. His group of buddies were standing in the line that was his class and he couldn’t be happier. When I took my fiftieth picture of him standing in line, he was thoroughly annoyed.

Z in yard

Stop with the pictures, Mom!

At the end of the week, he successfully brought home his homework assignments, the appropriate notebooks, pencil case and yes, his head too. A full week of school and no lost items. A far cry from the days he came home in his undershirt because he left his shirt “somewhere” in school.

From the boy who had no interest in doing anything but watch a movie, now he wants me to sign him up for the school orchestra and chorus in addition to the Hip Hop and Ballet classes he’s already got.

“Any other lessons you want to take this year?” I chided.

A light flickered in his eyes and he folded his hands as in prayer to plead his request, “Pleeeeease – can you teach me to how to drive?”

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