My People

You know…the poem by Langston Hughes.

Winter has descended on Boston with little warning. But, then again, it is December. In fact, it’s almost flu season.

The Globe reported today that 1 in 6 people in the U.S. have gotten the swine flu (about 50 million cases) and that 10,000 people have died from it. In a separate article, they talk about the use of new media to alert people about the danger and encourage them to get immunized.

A more perfect parent (or, even a good one) would have already gotten their children vaccinated, right? Not the Parent Imperfect! Despite the fact that one member of the household works for the Boston Public Health Commission, Mr. Vincent has yet to get the vaccine. The PI pledges to lift his head from his work long enough tomorrow (on a Saturday) to get Vince to somewhere where the vaccine is being given. Maybe having it here will make it so.

Speaking of Vincent, he had to hand in an important team project today on volcanoes. He was proud of his short research paper, with reason. The euphoria didn’t last long, guesses the PI. Yesterday, the teacher of that same class announced that there would be a final exam on today, the same day when everyone had to get in the project. No one would study much, and those who needed to work on their projects would not be able to study at all. Mr. Vincent has not dared mention this, but his neighbor and classmate has had no such hesitation. Her parents report that she was livid as she complained that, “he sets us up for failure…teachers are supposed to help us learn, but he sets us up for failure.”

Set up for failure…The PI sometimes gets just that feeling about the school ranked 38th on the list of the 100 Best High Schools in the United States. What would motivate a teacher to set up a final exam in that way? Ironically, if you asked Vince what he thought about the school on his way out of that exam, he would probably say, “I think it’s great…I really like my friends.”

On Wednesday, the PI went into the nation’s oldest public school to meet with the guidance counselor. To do that, he had to take Connie out of her school a few minutes early. When he went into the classroom, C’s teacher was reading the class a book called Beautiful Blackbird. She had chosen that particular book because the book’s author/illustrator, Ashley Bryan was coming to the school two days later (today). Ashley also illustrated what used to be one of her favorite picture books, What a Wonderful World.

The girl came home today very excited about seeing Mr. Bryan. “He talked to us about his life, and then he read us a poem…”My People,” by Langston Hughes. But he didn’t just read the words…he was very theatrical.” The PI scrambled to find the poem on the Web, and C read it in her own theatrical way.

Theatrical is big for her this week. On Thursday, she was invited to join the cast of “Little Mermaid,” at the Wheelock Family Theater.

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