If you were to close your eyes for a second, tilt your head back, and think back to this past summer, you would probably see visions of you frolicking under a palm tree on a nearby beach, a coconut overflowing with luscious coconut milk in your right palm (ITS SUNNAH, FOLKS), and a cute magenta crazy stray poking out, just because. You can probably feel the cool breeze running through your hair (or hijab!), and the suns imminent rays delicately baking your olive skin cocoa. You can also probably hear the crash of the waves against the shore, drenching your swimsuit--- yes, the oh so stylish oversized shirt and a pair of leggings---and reminding you that life is full of hedonistic occurrences.
Yeah, that’s not my summer.
Lampara. (this means lamp in spanish, whut r u doing lampara????)
My summer this year was probably the most packed of my entire life. From two weddings in my khadaan, community college classes, getting my braces off, SAT prep class, Ramadan, and my sister’s graduation party, it was truly the summer of summers.
But something else happened last summer. I don’t know if its truly anything compared to the enormity of the events that overtook my schedule, mind, and body, but it is something I will hold close to my toaster (because my toaster is warmer than my heart).
Last summer, I meet Alexis.
I won’t give you his last name for security reasons (I forgot how to spell it), and before you judge me (braaaang it, buddyyy), Alexis is a 7 year old kid I tutored while volunteering at Kumon.
And he is a delight.
Alexis is in third grade, and appears to be Filipino or Indonesian. He always has a band aid on his left hand or arm. I don’t even know why. He just does. Alexis likes to throw his pencil and kick me under the table, and he always smells like sweet pickles. He also possessed a penchant for sticking his boogers on his worksheet, which as much as I tried to avoid, always somehow got stuck to the sides of my pen (EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW EW).
“I’M ITCHY, MISS!” he exclaimed, violently itching inside his shirt. Unsure of what to do, I just did what a normal person, who is also Zayn Malik’s fiance, would do.
I gave him my pen to reach the difficult “SO ITCHINESSSSS” problem areas on his back. And so it went on for another 15 minutes.
When he eventually stopped doing one thing, he begin another. After the itching fiasco, Alexis kept, in some magical way, tossing his flip flop towards the ceiling. After I told him to stop, he told me that he was going to his friend Jimmy’s pool party after Kumon.
So, let me get this straight. I thought. This little rugrat gets to enjoy himself at a pool party with rainbow pool noodles, and Jimmy’s mom constantly supplying ice cold Capri Suns with warm pizza, while I sit here in this cold room that smells like feet? I had to get that party.
As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t. Partially because I would probably get arrested for it, and partially because I had to get Mr. Yu to offer me a job after I had earned enough hours.
Then, all of a sudden, I got a bit angry at Alexis and reprimanded him for writing his digits in a sloppy manner. He started crying, and Mr. Yu (my boss who is just as strict as he sounds) walks in. “Alexis? What’s the matter he asks?” He looks at me angrily. I suppress a “U MAD BROOOO?”. “I like you better, Mr. Yu. I don’t like her.” He then points a teeny finger that probably had a booger on it at me accusingly.
I soften my voice. “Alexis, sweetie, it’s almost time to go!” I say, clenching my teeth. “Let’s finish this up!”.
And so after a couple of more tears and kicks under the table, Alexis finished his worksheets and scampered out.
I breathed a sigh of relief, and Mr. Yu approached me, smiling knowingly---or so I thought. I decided to make some type of inside joke with my future boss.
“He’s a handful, isn’t he?!” I exclaimed, rolling my head back and laughing dramatically.
Mr. Yu didn’t stick to the mental script I revised in my head.
I cleared my throat.
“I know that he is intelligent enough to acquire (BUSTIN OUT DAT IMPRESSIONAL SAT VOCAB YEEUUH) the knowledge, I feel like he’s just a bit lazy and distracted”.
YES. That was it, he was going to be impressed with my use of “acquire”, ask me to become a full time employee, and then stupid little Alexis could be the desperate coffee child, like Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada, except Alexis would have no cool bald guy to give him designer pumps.
“Duriba…” Mr. Yu started. “Alexis has a learning disability.”
I instantly felt a churning sensation in my stomach. Wow. Did I really just admonish a kid who couldn’t really control all his jitters and feelings? I made him cry! According to that Seventeen Magazine personality test, I’m supposed to promote positivity and emit expressions of goodness. I treated a kid with a disability like that, then basically complained about him.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know...” I stammered, my chocolate cheeks now a shade of crimson.
Mr. Yu smiled politely, then made his way to his office as I clocked out.
Mr. Yu eventually offered me a job, and I took it. Unfortunately, I don’t really get to see Alexis as much, as I got promoted from child teacher to reading worksheet grader (such prestige!). *Hair flip*.
Last Friday, from across the room, I noticed Alexis and enthusiastically waved. He thankfully waved back. I got up to approach him and to playfully shake his hand. Alexis advanced towards me, smiling.
We shook hands as I led him to the door, and as I waved him away I noticed a booger chilling on my index finger.