Some of our regular readers know that I am a student teacher, and as such I am surrounded by children who have no idea how offensive or hilarious they are. An example:
Kid: I like your toque, Mr. M! Where did you get it?
Me: Thanks, my mom gave it to me.
Kid: What? I thought your mom was dead!
Me: Not to the best of my knowledge.
In any case, we had an incident on the playground the other day rife with racial tension. I work with quite young kids, grade 1 and 2, and one lunch hour a group of wee girls came rushing over to me because “Susie” was crying. Her real name is not Susie, but in fact something that originated in Ghana. I was guided over Susie, who was indeed quite upset. Apparently “Gladys”, who is not actually named Gladys, but something that originated from a trailer park, had been calling Susie “Black” in a really negative way. Susie, for the record, is in fact black, but nobody likes to have a negative spin put on their race. Gladys, for the record, is so whitebread she has a “Wonder” tattoo on her forehead.
I talked to Susie, and tried to get the story. It sounded a bit confused, and I hoped maybe there had been a miscommunication, which is wildly common amongst 7 year olds. I went to talk to Gladys, and then back to Susie, and then I spoke to both of them together, and it turned out it was all a big mix up. I didn’t press the issue, because one thing 7 year olds are very skilled at is concocting stories in which their victimhood will earn them attention and cookies. Nonetheless, racist or intolerant behaviour is best nipped in the bud, and I followed up as best and as seriously as I could. All’s well that ends well?
3:00 rolled around, and Susie and Gladys had patched things up. They were giddily playing as they waited to be dismissed, and they both rushed up to talk to me.
“We’re best friends again!” Susie said to me.
“Oh, that’s really good to hear,” I said, relieved.
“Yeah, we’re best friends,” said Gladys.
If, and only if it had ended there, it would have been fine. But alas…
“Yeah, she’s my master now!” said Susie.
My jaw dropped. “What?”
“She’s my master now!” Insisted little black Susie cheerfully.
“Uh…” I added, unhelpfully.
“Yeah, and she’s my horsie!” said Gladys.
“OH! Oh, well, uh, I, okay, then, I guess…” I said.
“Yep! giddyup Horsie!” said Gladys, adding a whip-cracking sound for authenticity.
“Yay! Ride me!” said Susie.
“Faster Horsie!” added Gladys, as she climbed atop Susie.
Then, the bell rang, and they rode into the sunset, Gladys cracking her whip, Susie laughing hysterically, and me totally speechless.