Monday, April 24, 2017

immediacy - part 2

So we processed how awesome that was
what trappings and fixings were our preferred treatment for the nachos
(and we can both agree: Colby Jack—so much)

then I felt I should ask him 
about some…
This boy
who understands facts and figures
as a second language
finds it helpful to break down all of his concerns—
academic stress, middle school social dynamics, how much sibling annoys him, and
parents’ impending separation
into pieces of a pie, and respective percentages to be rated in each week’s session

Academic concerns this week?
He explained clearly that he’d take the math portion of the state standardized testing
with its reliable 1:1 ratio of solution to problem
any day, any year
over the open-ended requirements of the writing tests
(You and Me, kid)

Middle School Social stuff?
Meh. Made a new friend this week.

Absolutely obnoxious.

Leaving only…

I do the math really quick
“That’s about sixty-something percent left, my friend”
Am I doing the math right?
I ask him
His eye contact had broken off when we started on the pie
and transfixed to the safety of nothing in front of him
His face wears all of the assuredness of a deer caught in a bath of ball stadium lighting
the look with which I’ve been familiar since my first job in foster care

I wear, for dramatic effect
my best gritted teeth
my best clenched jaw
and the rest of my face to match
I ask questions
just how okay does it feel to break down over this?

I just wish they’d feel comfortable enough to say
as softly and matter of fact as they can
“Well, asshole, it doesn’t”

(And when did I ever? 
I get it)

I ask the feeling words—
“I don’t know” is all he can manage
I have to assume that I ask another forgettable, inane, space filler
“I don’t know” is all he can manage

“How about I back off for tonight?”
I ask softly
I seem to have hit on the safe phrase to break him from that trance

You know
It’s okay
To make up your own short-answer question to a writing test
And to speak about how much you want nachos
And why
Because if it seems like
some people can’t agree on anything else
They certainly seem to love you enough to agree that you deserve
some goddamned nachos every once in a while

“Colby Jack, right?”
Smile and enthusiastic nod
(He actually tried to suggest American at one point, so I had a very quick talk with him because his socialization is important to me)
“Black beans or refried?”
Pssh, black
“Beef or chicken?”
Leaning toward chicken tonight
Fair enough
He hesitates
“There may be some heartburn at first. They made me cry the first couple of times, but now I really REALLY need them. Give it a shot?”

He nods

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