Thursday, September 5, 2013

School Reflections, A Letter

To the mother of the student with a stick-on mirror on the inside of her locker door:

Hi. I haven't met you yet, but our children are locker neighbors and in the same class. I noticed you and your daughter on the first day of school when you parked your car in the bus lane and the bus couldn't get into the parking lot. We've all done that. Well, I haven't. But everyone who takes their child to school in a convertible Mercedes does that. It looked like your access to your baby's carseat was quite convenient. My son asked me if your mode of transport was a ferrari! Wink, wink.

When we marched (I was behind you, I could tell you work out) with our children into the whitewashed hallway and then stood around awkwardly and teary-eyed while watching them unpack their belongings from their shiny backpacks into their lockers, I noticed your four-inch heels. I was conflicted, as you obviously were, about where my child should put his "outdoor shoes," inside or outside his locker? There were no instructions for the necessity of shoe care. I also watched, as you did, as my son tied his lace shoes, ever-so-carefully (and slowly) and I noticed that your daughter had slip-on ballet shoes (also with heels!). It must be nice to have such an easy shoe option for female children.

I saw you glancing back and forth between me and my son. I get that a lot... I'm white, he's not, etc. You see, he's adopted. From China. If you have any further questions about that, please wait to ask them until I know you well enough to buy you your favorite brand of panties.

I also couldn't help but notice you helping your daughter attach her stick-on mirror to the inside door of her locker. It went on very straight. My son didn't have one. I suppose I could still buy him a mirror. I think I saw one on clearance at the dollar store. Was it on the school supply list? Shit, I should have read it more carefully. I have been trying to teach my son how to wipe his nose after he eats (especially since the hole in the roof of his mouth caused by his cleft lip causes runny food to, well, make a quick and easy exit) and a mirror might help him notice sooner if he has omitted removing an item from his face.

The problem with a mirror of his own is that I would have to teach him to look into it, which he rarely does (I don't even have any at his level in the house, perhaps I should change this). I'm not even sure he knows that Chinese people look any different than us white folk. I'm sure his classmates will educate him about this difference (and all that it implies!) very soon.

And perhaps he can take a few tips from your daughter about how to use a mirror. How did you teach her to use one? Did she watch you looking into it often? Does she check her hair? Or her face? And how did you teach her that looking at herself is so vitally important that she should have easy access to a mirror at all times? And what does she look for in her own reflection? Does she check her teeth? Her skin? Her symmetry? Surely not her blemishes. Not yet. Why did you just choose a mirror for the top of her body? Have you considered a full-length mirror?

I imagine that you carry a mirror with you (I noticed that you wear make-up and that you are very pretty) at all times (I'm not hitting on you by the way, I just notice those things). I don't (I am embarrassed that I wasn't wearing any make-up that morning, I'm sure you think I'm a slob) (I'm not) (Well, maybe compared to you, I am) (I did put on make-up recently. And when my 9-year old saw me, he promptly informed me--kind of rudely--that I "don't look any different with it on"). Maybe if we become friends, you can teach me how to wear make-up like you do, you know, in a way that truly makes a difference. And then we can talk about the things you like to talk about. What do you like to talk about?

Alas, I must tell you: if your daughter forgets to check her mirror and has a booger or stream of snot or random food particle stuck to her cheek or chin, my son will not notice. I promise.

I hope our children have a great year in Grade Two! Looking forward to our future friendship,

(FYI: All identifiable details in the previous story have been changed to protect identities, and a few snippets of actual stories have been strung together to create this fictional narrative.)

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