I'm a 62-year-old retired guy with plantar fasciitis. But once a week I come home feeling like I want to kick somebody's ass.
Last week I made like a Minnesota Twin with flu-like symptoms and stayed away from my volunteer stint at the shelter preschool. Although I could have done the job, I'm not supposed to infect the kids, so I called in sick.
Today, when I returned, I learned all the teachers have ringworm.
Today, I met C who looks Inuit and lives in a cone of silence through all the activities designed to draw him out. I mean, he doesn't respond. He gets in a group and disappears, but then he explodes in ways that let you know he has been listening all along.
I love the kid, but I can't actually say I love the kid.
Today, S, whose name means Peace kept telling me something. I'm fighting you. I'm frightening you. I'm frightened of you. No. It turned out she was saying, I'm farting on you.
Today, MK, who is not yet four and must weigh at least 50 pounds, had a good day. I have to be careful leaving her out of physical stuff I do with the other kids on the playground, like 1-2-3-up-a-tree, where I lift kids up into the playground's lone tree. Over and over.
Today, J had his head shaved. He can spell words. I don't know if his haircut has anything to do with the ringworm.
Today, M—who has been the subject of previous posts—came up gave me a Corleone kiss and told me he loved me. I didn't believe it for a second. One of the teachers who had tickets for a Twins game gave the tickets to his family. It was an attempt to reward him for good behavior, but after he spilled the milk of two kids at lunch and then went into a meltdown, I thought having to watch the Twins was a fitting punishment.
Today, G, another kid I've mentioned before, walked down the hall speaking in complete sentences: "Don't touch the wall," he said. "They're touching the wall."
He's making progress. Funny how these difficult kids sometimes speak in the voices of their teachers.
Today, I rode in with the apologetics of Rep. Pat Garofalo in my head. He seems to think he's doing something for education and calling local districts to account. Yet schools have already been slashing budgets, and when inflation is taken into account, state school funding has dropped by double digits over the past eight years.
In any sane society, what Rep. Garofalo and his cohorts have been pushing would be called lies. What they have perpetrated against children would be called abuse. Yet they are allowed to pontificate at a level of abstraction that does not recognize C or S or MK or J or M or G or the challenges they face.
The challenges our schools face.
If in ten years, these kids fail algebra, well, that will be my fault. It will be the fault of the teachers trying to redeem these kids all along the line. It will be the fault of the school districts who failed to cut their budgets for 15 years in a row.
It won't be the fault of officious punks like Garolfalo who, I am sorry to say, seem to look at schools through suburban-colored glasses.
I am too old to take them out behind the school for a lesson, but I'd love to have them come to class for day. I'd love to teach them how so many kids are 1-2-3-up-a-tree.