Three of the Englewood kids slept over on Friday. Ten, eleven, and fourteen, two brothers, Emmanuel and Devonte, and their cousin Jasmine. They’re funny and inquisitive. They rip on, or as they say “treat,” each other incessantly. Whenever I hang out with them, I’m treated to a new perspective of and new appreciation for my life.
We drove by the 26th/California jail and they listed all the people they know who’ve been there and recounted what it was like to visit them. “It was scary.” I lost count after six names, including Jasmine’s brother. And someone named Mookie.
“Why’s it so cold (in Roscoe Village, where I live)?” asked Emmanuel. “Never mind, I know why. Cause we’re on the north side!”
The boys loved playing my guitar. Devonte kept calling it a “chip” instead of a “pick.”
I took them to Kitschn’ for breakfast. They commented at being at a “fancy restaurant.” Kitschn’, while nice, is by no means fancy. All relative. The two boys had no idea how to use a knife to cut their pancakes. I can’t express how sad it was to see them stuffing their mouths with their hands and then after I gave them a quick silverware lesson – “Stack all the pancakes on top of each other, hold them with the fork as you cut back and forth with the knife, I’ll hold the plate so it doesn’t move.” – to see them trying so hard to use the utensils. Ten and eleven years old.
The ten-year old can barely read and the other two aren’t where they should be academically either.
Jasmine asked me to take her to the high school fair this weekend, where all the schools have tables set up and you ask questions, fill out forms, make the huge decision of what school you want to attend. I said yes but feel a bit of pressure/stress. There are hundreds of schools in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system, some of them fantastic, some of them horrid. Shouldn’t someone who has done some research and knows what school will best fit Jasmine take her? Her grandmother, who adopted her, works seven days a week at a downtown hotel so can’t go. Jasmine going with me is better than Jasmine not going at all I guess. But aie! This is a big decision. I keep thinking about the Fenger student who was beaten to death last week outside his school.