Monday, May 10, 2010

Third World II: or being "school homed"

They looked like a fleet of trucks. Parked overnight in the freight yard and waiting for the drivers to come, fire them up and head out on the day's runs.

Actually, they are a fleet of trucks. The engines don't burn fossil fuels, but they do emit carbon dixoide. The "engines" are the young bodies of kids in primary grades K-3.

The trucks are all red Radio Flyer coaster wagons with white rimmed wheels and wooden sideboards. Felipe (not his real name) keeps the tires aired up and gathers the wagons into the school gym overnight. I saw them parked there when I went to school at the end of the day last Wednesday. I helped Jean take down her growing collection of painted bird murals that the 2nd grade teachers use in their classrooms each spring when they do their units on birds.

Classrooms have never had bird posters and bird murals like these. They can't be ordered from any publishing or school supply house. One-of-a-kind in all the world. Jean's gift to learning.

But as we took a shortcut through the gym to the parking lot, I saw the whole fleet of wagons parallel parked and pointing diagonally across the gym floor.

It used to be chaotic when all the youngsters would arrive at school and had to stand in line for breakfast in the school cafeteria. Now they no longer do. They go to their classrooms. Two students from each classroom go down to the cafeteria with one of the wagons and bring back breakfast for the whole room.

Breakfast........................ Here in America...................... Breakfast. At school. Not at home?

Here in nirvana-land where we can know the latest foibles of Amy Winehouse or Tiger Woods at the speed of light, we manufacture new little human beings and send them off to school without breakfast in their tummies?

Say what?

I thought that only happened in the third world.

Our former neighbors in the bustling town of Yalova, Turkey would have been so humiliated by such a failure to parent, such a failure to "household", such a failure to "family"--sending their unfed children to school for a day, a day that was hours longer than the typical American school day--that they would have been ashamed to walk down the street.

They weren't ashamed to walk down the street. They did so proudly: Mom, Dad, kids. Whole families on weekend afternoons and pleasant evenings. They didn't consider themselves as wealthy as Americans, but they sure didn't think of themselves as Third World people either. They could do far better than that.

That's what they thought. So that's what they did.

WE have become the Third World if "we" (as in everybody out there who reproduces) can't feed our kids breakfast at the beginning of the day.

My nephew, responsible father of four starting a new business in a time of recession in the state's highest area of unemployment, said it well:

"We all know kids who are home schooled. Now it seems a whole lot of parents are expecting their kids to be school homed."

I thought that's what happened in the Third World...

If they aren't getting breakfast at home, what else aren't kids getting there? Pray for kids and families here in Third World USA.


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