I snatch it away from her without ceremony, her latest prize from school. A neon yellow squishy ball. For some unaccountable reason, war has broken out between them for ownership, resulting in a mass outbreak of jelly legs. No-one appears capable of walking. [translation = positioning oneself in a vertical position to place one foot in front of the other in a regular sequencing pattern.] My children flap about the ground [translation = dirt] like so many landed salmon, but much noisier. I stuff it up my jumper, [translation = sweater / shirt] the squishy ball that is to say, so that I have both hands empty and available. I guide small people in the general direction of the car. I stand tall and attempting marching with my one new perfect breast in the centre of my chest, matched either side by my own pimples.
I hold two hands firmly as we attempt the sidewalk, but junior is distracted by the cars parked alongside, or more accurately their tyres and wheels, his latest 'interest.' I try to explain about how people do not like it if their cars are touched by strangers, but I have yet to hit the right note in my attempts.
Progress is slow. Many parents and children swirl around us, the obstruction. I notice the odd raised eye brow, but assume that everyone is jealous of my new and improved feminine physique.
I also notice that quite a few children say goodbye to him, not strangers, familiar enough little faces, but none that I can put a name to. Several children make friendly remarks to him, all of which he ignores. [translation = due to a shortage of “interpersonal skills,” amongst other things] Older brothers and sisters of these same children, also make comments. I hear a mother or two ask “is he your new friend?” or the equivalent thereof.
I dig in his back pack. The daily report is there. I read it whilst he talks to a pirelli, a tyre that is to say. My other son take a rest and lolls against me, with the weariness of a long distance runner. I am a lamp post. My daughter stands nearby, a hip thrust out with the petulant attitude of the near tween, as we move, imperceptibly, slowly, from one wheel to the next.
The cars are stacked up and the drivers face towards us. Each occupant knows that their car is next for scrutiny. “Look at him, he is dah dirty one,” he guffaws as the owner leans over and lifts her sun glasses for a better view.
From the note, I gather that junior attended the mainstream first grade class for seven minutes, where he aced the spelling test. More importantly, although his letters were not formed to his satisfaction, that even though his “robot writing” had the odd curve, he managed to contain his fury and limited himself to motor mouth self talking, much to the confusion of his temporary new class mates. He managed to remain on his chair.
I hunker down to sit on the curb, [translation = the gutter, with one foot on the storm drain,] whilst he examines a hub cap, a shiny one, where he examines his reflection and pulls faces of delight. I fold my arms over my breast, then unfold them, then refold them under it. The “tip of his index finger” bravely skims the surface of the hub cap.
The special ed teachers and mainstream teachers, have a close working relationship and years of experience. They colaberate to find a 'best fit.' I suspect that the mainstream children are given the equivalent of a pep talk. I believe, that in some senses, it is merely a nudge in the right direction. This is due in part to children’s natural affinity for one another's best interests. It is also because the school has an ethos of inclusion that permeates “all personnel” and pupils. It is reinforced with a rigorous 'anti bullying' policy, the like of which I have not witnessed elsewhere. The trick here is to utilize the pupils to police their fellows. They see what adults may miss, the subtleties that are lost on addled brains. The youngsters weed out the tormentors, teasers and nere do wells, because they know what they're looking for and can see through the veil that is raised to deceive world weary, jaded and forgetful adult.
“How was Mrs. B's spelling class?”
“Boring, boring, boring.”
“Who did you sit next to?”
“I dun know. I dun know. I dun know.”
“Were there any girls in the class.”
“Dunno. Dunno. Dunno. ”
Clearly, a perfectly ordinary exchange that all parents experience on occasion. Maybe I am able to jam my foot in the door of the 'all parents club’ afterall, I wonder to myself? Junior tugs at my trousers, to point, sputtering with excitement, “did you be knowing dat wheels,er….. hub caps, dey are having dah best robot writing on dem!”