Today was a drop and go kind of day.
We are two minutes from the end of class, finishing the debrief of a small group activity, when K signs into the Google Meet. His late arrival is actually not all that unusual- not quite three months ago, he and two younger siblings very unexpectedly moved to the other side of the globe, to stay with a stepfather we didn’t even know he had. There is an eight hour time difference and the internet in his new country is not great, so he regularly arrives at very strange hours and often not at all.
“I have to tell you my bad news,” he says, not waiting to see if anything might already be going on.
I stop midstream, wondering what the news might be, and if it would be rude to ask him to wait just a minute, while I give tomorrow’s reading assignment.
I don’t have to make a decision because he immediately blurts out his news. “Gizmo died,” he declares. “He threw up, and my dad was taking him to the vet and then he died. And now we have his older brother,” he says, holding up a slightly larger, slightly hairier version of Gizmo, the twelve-week-old Siamese kitten that had been visiting our Google Meet every couple of days for the last month or so.
“I’m so sorry,” I say. “It’s so hard to lose a family member.”
K sniffs, and pulls the new kitten a little closer. “He was really cute. We were going to bring him home with us. And now he’s dead.”
I offer more condolences, tell him how sad I felt when Star, my old black lab, passed away in November. I ask if there is anything I can do. I ask if he wants to talk to someone on our Socio-Emotional team.
“No,” he says, “I’m ok. I gotta go to math. I just wanted you to know.”
K has been gone maybe thirty seconds when D shows up.
" Hey D," I say.
"Who's he?" says one of the girls who has already joined.
"You know D," I say, and then I realize that no, they actually don't know D because he was in my class last year. He's in seventh grade now.
"What are you doing here?" I say.
"I finished all my work, Miss, so I decided to hack you." He laughs, and I remember why he was one of my favorite kids last year.
He looks around, "No one in my class keeps their camera open either."
"Yeah?" I say. "I think it's because they hate me."
D laughs again. "Nah miss, you're cool. They just don't want anyone to see their hair messed up."
"I gotta go," he says, and he is gone before I can say goodbye.
The third class of the morning. We are reading Alan Gratz's REFUGEE. Today C stays after class to talk to me. "Mexico is beautiful," he says, "but it's also very dangerous. My mom's had four. Several times she almost died."
"Your mom's had four?" I repeat, not entirely clear as to what we are talking about.
"Yeah," he says. "Once somebody pointed a gun on her. And two she went to a bus and got out and the next morning she noticed the bus that she was in got on fire."
A, who had also stayed after class, chimed in. "Mexico can be kind of dangerous," she says. "My uncle got shot but he didn't die."
I'm waiting to hear about C's mom's other two, but evidently it will be another day.
"Bye miss, we gotta go."
And they disappear.
Today was definitely a drop and go kind of day....