My boy and I been having some fairly intense conversations about racism and peer pressure and ignorance lately, and I think we are both learning to check our reactions a bit for the sake of progress. He has such a deadpan delivery when telling me about some of the stuff on his mind that I tend to impose my own imaginary emphasis on his tellings, often to the point of distortion. Yesterday we had a disturbing yet awesome text exchange about a kid he referred to as racist. It was heavy stuff, and I tried to tread carefully around the complicated work of standing up for something without getting yourself in trouble while avoiding the urge to make fun of his spelling. Later that night when we talked about it, I asked if he was thinking about telling any adult at school about what was going on, and he said something about wanting to be careful not to overreact, but he thought I was a good person to talk it over with. Because I’m clearly such an expert on preteen drama and what the hell I’m supposed to say every time. The conversation prompted me to look over the student and parent manuals for middle school, hoping to find some guidance about how to advise my boy.
Flash forward to this morning, on the drive to school.
He was wondering out loud what would happen with the stupid kid today, and we were talking about whether he would have gotten suspension or a referral if a teacher had heard him saying the ignorant stuff. The consensus in the car was that referrals weren’t that big a deal, but I informed them that according to the student handbook (geek alert), referrals would bring down your citizenship grade, and you had to have a good citizenship grade to go on field trips and do sports. My boy told me that a girl in his humanities class had gotten a referral just yesterday. I asked why. He said, in his typical deadpan affect:
“She asked to go to the office because she was having ‘lady issues’. Then she came back with a sandwich.”
That cracked my shit right up.
I started to laugh, and after a while my kids pointed out that I was still laughing. I wiped away a few tears. My boy laughed with me, saying something about how he hadn’t realized until now how funny it was. He asked me to stop though, because my laughing was making him laugh harder, and his cheeks were starting to hurt. My girl just yelled/glared at us from the backseat and questioned my ability to drive while pounding on the steering wheel and gasping for breath through my tears.
I eventually hiccupped my way to the curb and dropped them off, coughing and clutching my belly and grinning from ear to ear with eternal hope that if either one of them does get a referral, it’s for lying about lady issues just to get a sandwich.