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The Boxer

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It happens every school year. Kids go off in the morning on the first day and return that afternoon with 4,982 forms for mom to fill out. There’s the Rules of the Bus form. The Medical History form. The Free Lunch form. The Can You Help in the Classroom? form. The Parental Custody form. The Who to Call in Case of Nuclear or Biological Weapons Attack form. And then the Expectations in My Class forms from every teacher. Good grief. It’s way too much homework for me. I’m a firm believer in spreading the joy, so a couple years ago I asked Alex to help fill in the blanks to the best of his ability and then turn the forms over to me to complete and sign. He was happy to do this, and within the hour had them on the table for me to finish up. I started reviewing and somewhat automatically signing off, when one particular form caught my eye. It’s the one where they ask the usual name, address and phone number, and then ask you to select your race and ethnic background from a series of boxes. The choices are along the lines of Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, African American and so on. My son had carefully drawn another little square and wrote next to it: American. And then he had made a big black X in that box. Right on! I asked him, “Al, what made you do that?? •Well, I’m an American. I didn’t see that choice there, so I wrote it in.? I thought it was so cool and I was really proud of him for recognizing this. My son is a mix of almost all of the above choices, and as such, does not fit entirely into one box or another. What kid in America does anymore? And more importantly • why doesn’t the school district recognize this and adjust their form?! So now when we get this form to fill out we have a little fun with it. My son has been Romanian-Australian, Indonesian-Liberian and Brazilian-Tlingit. We’re probably wreaking havoc with the school district’s computer system, but some things are bigger than the little box you’re supposed to fit in.

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