Friday, March 22, 2019


It is 4:30 on Friday afternoon. We are 90 minutes into Spring Vacation and the building is pretty much empty. My teammate supervised locker clean out this morning, and when I arrived at noon, there were almost one hundred books waiting on a table, ready to be reshelved. I am slowly working my way through the pile.

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 champioƱes/mushrooms. E's little brother and sister do not like champioƱes. 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.


Readingteachsu said...

Yesterday, a dad who comes on his lunch hour and today a mom who brings pizza and wants to talk, you've got a vibrant learning community going on. One where the parents are right in there. Those are some fortunate kiddos in the ways that count.

Readingteachsu said...

I meant to tell you that you didn't post your link on twowritingteachers tonight, just your header.

Eduardo said...

Carol, I finally found your blog...or I would have been reading all along this month. Glad to see you are slicing too!
I just finished spring break...and listen, I can relate to the many feelings you have expressed. I laughed out loud about getting your dog's toenails clipped! I'm not looking forward to returning on Monday and having everyone ask "did you go anywhere?" and my answer will be....Longmont!

Thanks for the chuckle...and what a memory you have created with your pizza party tonight. I'm sure it meant more to the mother than you will ever know.

Linda Mitchell said...

It's so true that our students teach us way more than we teach them. Wonderful slice.

Tamara said...

I love this. The pizza party, the little fingers, the looming stacks of books. The gratitude.