Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Different World - I May Not Understand

I, a White Man, live with my Black Partner and her two (biracial) children who are now 8 and 11 years old. I also have a son from my first marriage who is attending an Ivy League University. We are certainly "upper-middle class" and indeed our family income is around three times the median income for our area.

The first week of school I met the mother of a classmate of our 8 year old in the halls of their school. She has a child in the fifth grade, in whose classroom I work as a parent volunteer, as well as an 18-19 year old son I've never met. She is White and her husband is Black.

Q, the fifth grader, dresses nicely and is a cooperative, pleasant boy. He clearly struggles academically, though he seems to fit in fairly well with his classmates. R, our fifth grader, has been accepted in the public schools' gifted program which should allow him in middle school to have his core classes with other similar children.

My 19 year old son S got over a 4.0 grade point average 2nd semester last year and dipped "significantly" to a little over a 3.6 gpa last semester. This woman's 18-19 year old's girlfriend gave birth to a child a few months ago. The woman told me that the girlfriend had lied about her age to her son and was only 15 (perhaps 16 by now).

I'm retired and on a federal pension. My partner has an excellent job she will start soon, with temporary work since her last job ended. This woman has told me that her husband needs to lose a signifcant amount of weight before he can safely have major surgery he needs to be able to have a chance at working again. She quit her job to take care of him and now has her three children, the girlfriend (fiance) and the grandbaby in her household.

We live in a different world from these people! My guess is that we don't understand their issues and struggles and probably they know little of what we face.

There are other divides in our country and the world. I hope that we can learn from each other and accept and care for each other. Thanks!

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