Friday, March 22, 2019
SLICE #22- A LESSON IN GRATITUDE
One of my students, E, is helping me. E stays for tutoring almost every day after school. His mom works nights, cleaning restaurants, and sleeps during the day. Most days, she doesn't pick E up until almost 5. I told him yesterday that he was all caught up and didn't need to stay today. Even so, he arrives at 2:58, as regular as clockwork.
About 4:45, E's cell phone buzzes. His mom has arrived. I think E will be leaving, but that's not the case at all. She has brought pizza to say thank you for helping her son. She wants E to come down and let her into the building. Soon she, and E's younger sister and brother arrive in my room with two large pizzas. I call my one remaining teammate, and the six of us have a pizza party.
At first, the party is silly. The pizza has champioñes/mushrooms. E's little brother and sister do not like champioñes. I tell them that's my favorite and so they carefully pick the mushrooms off their pizza and place them on my slice. E's mom is embarrassed, but I laugh and eat the pizza. I am an old lady, and a few fingers in my pizza are the least of my worries.
Soon the conversation becomes more serious. E's mom was a teacher in Mexico, and very much wants to teach again. She is waiting for her papers to clear, so she get a Social Security number, and have a real job. She would like to go back to school. Maybe be a police detective some day. We talk about how hard it is to learn a new language, single parenting, the cost of rent/property in Denver, medical insurance, the house E's mom lost when she and his father divorced. The conversation is rapid fire, in Spanish, and I only get a little more than half of what is said between her and my teammate. Even so, it is enough for me to understand that her life is very, very hard, and she is tired and a little lonely.
E's mom stays more than an hour. It is 5:45 before I get back to my book sorting. Even so, I am so glad she came. She has taught me so much. All day, I have been a little down. It's spring break, and all day, I have been hearing my colleagues' plans for exotic vacations-- Florida, Cancun, New Orleans, San Diego. And I have been feeling sorry for myself because my most exciting plans include doing my taxes and getting dog's toenails clipped.
And then E's mom arrives. And she has so little. A menial job. Three kids. Who all got new tennis shoes yesterday. She is alone. Far from her family and her home. And yet she brings pizza. Makes a party for her children. Says thank you.
She has taught me much today.