Thursday, March 23, 2006

Deep down, we're all the same

So I know I devote an enormous amount of blog space to moaning about how weird life is here in our GB. Okay, I devote a large amount talking about myself, and sometimes get around to talking about my UK life. But some days, I am reminded that things aren't really that different.

One of my co-workers was telling us in the staff-room about how her mother used to think it was a good thing that her and her siblings were regularly 'cleaned out' and she gave them some sort of liquid made of figs. They all stood in a queue and took their share -- only on a weekend, so as not to embarrass themselves at school. What is this? Suddenly my mad Black American father is a mad Scottish mother. At one point it was monthly doses of Ex-Lax to 'clean us out'. And we all stood in a line for it. Deep down, we're all the same: we want our children to be regular.

Tonight was Parents' Night, the dreaded evening. It was terrible, all the dancing about outside the classroom door, not wanting to go in, wishing they were sick, or looking for a way to break their leg or something, becoming ill with the idea of being in the hot seat -- and these were the parents and teachers.

Jequanti's parents were a particularly odd lot, a real-life Jack Sprat and wife. She was totally into what I was saying, nodding her head, repeating my words. He appeared as if he had eaten too much dinner or was in a particularly hot room and couldn't... keep his... eyes open... then startled, cos HE KNEW HE SHOULD. When he did manage to meet my eyes, his look let me know that he thought the whole thing was bullshit. Thankfully, I only had to talk for 10 minutes.

Jequanti is having trouble with sounds. Part of it might have to do with his odd pronunciation of words. He received speech therapy in kindergarten, but that was two years ago. Could he need more? I put the question back to the parents: what do you think? The wife turned to the husband, giving the pleading look a desperate wife gives a husband: "Yes, this is all bullshit. But could you please say something and not embarrass me so damn much?"

Sighing, Jequanti's father says, not very seriously, "Well, I would like it if he didn't watch so many cartoons." To which, she replied light-heartedly, "Well, fine. You can get rid of the TV tomorrow!" So I laugh appreciatively at this banter. And then there was silence. I wait for more of this banter, something in the vein of "Ha ha. I wish I could, but then you'd go mental if you missed Trisha!" But no. It all ended there.

As my brain is working into overdrive trying to figure out what happened, it dawned on me that this was no light-hearted banter. As I replayed the exchange, I could see that their words were said with underlying tension and bitterness. So what was my final tip-off that these were embittered, pissy people?

Well, it had to be when they stared each other down after their last words. He looked away, in defeat. And she sucked her teeth and cocked her head to the side. It was if I was suddendly transported back to the US to my little inter-city school and Jequanti's mum had become some big Black mama. "Oh, I know you did NOT, motherfucker! Call me out in FRONT of the teacher. You is TRIPPIN'!"

Hmm. Guess who's going to be in therapy for years to come about his parents staying together when they clearly hated each other and stayed together for the sake of the kids? I guess, deep down, we're all the same: we've all got a little bit of Black inside of us, and in the right context, we WILL go ca-razy on yo' ass.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Amah said...

Remember the sucking of teeth for Japanese means I want to tell the truth but it may cause you to not like me, so I say something neutral to save my butt (i.e., you say can you get this for me by Friday, he sucks and says I try--means no, but if I say yes and don't you will be mad, if I say no you will be mad, so I'll say "I try" and you go off happily thinking I said yes and won't be mad when you return and I don't have it cause I said I try.

Friday, 24 March 2006 at 23:03:00 GMT  
Blogger Autumn said...

Well you know what I mean by sucking teeth, like how Black folks do it. Ssssss, you is trippin'.

Saturday, 25 March 2006 at 08:46:00 GMT  

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