Remembering Their Words

Nov 16, 2016 | 1 comment

Sydney with 2nd Grader, Southgate School, Hayward, CA - 1962

Sydney with 2nd Grader, Southgate School, Hayward, CA – 1962

It happens more than I’d like these days.  I woke up feeling tired – not refreshed.  And we have a lot on our plate today.  I thought of Allegra Tasaki, the little mite of a six-year-old who once said after a long field trip day, “When I feel tired, I just reach into my energy pouch.  For a refill.”  That was fifty-some years ago and I’ve tried to live by that piece of wisdom ever since.

It might have been during the same period of time that another feisty first-grader joined our class along about Christmastime.  He also was tiny, but unlike Allegra and the rest of his classmates, he came equipped with a giant-sized chip on his shoulder.  The very first day he was with us there was a fire drill.  The kids streamed into line and headed toward the door as we had practiced – all except Alonzo who stood but stubbornly refused to join us.

As the others paused and waited, I walked over to him and took his hand to urge him along.  Maybe not quite ‘took,’ though.  Instantly he pulled away and shouted at the top of his voice “Get your hands off me you white honky bitch!”  There was a stunned silence in the already quiet classroom and then one of the bigger boys broke rank, took the hand that Alonzo had pulled away from me and dragged him into line.

Charlie at Three, Claremont Day School, 1959

Charlie at Three, Claremont Daycare – 1959

Alonzo and his family moved during Christmas vacation so there isn’t “a rest” of this story.  Only that I have never forgotten his fiery anger and hostility and have never ceased wondering what happened to that little boy – what kind of man he grew to be.  Could we have made a difference in his attitude or his life had he been with us a little longer? And what lessons could he have taught us?

One other bit of kid wisdom comes to mind this morning.  When my son was three or four and attending Claremont Daycare in Berkeley, the teacher asked the kids, “Who knows what you call it when two people sing the same song at the same time?”  Charlie raised his hand and eagerly answered, “A coincidence.”  More words to live by.

I’m not sure how any of these kid-isms might be related.  But they must be, somehow.  Everything is.

1 Comment

  1. Cindi

    Not a “little” kidism, but from a middle school student, as I pointed to broken chord in his music: “What do we call this?” His answer: “Ummmm……(then birghtening” An ARCHIPELAGO !”


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