My Two Cents by Melissa Rosella

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I often think of my hispanic children, probably too much. I love Mexicans so much: what they represent and how much they love their families. I love the food and the conversations and the language and the kindness and the humbleness and the mentality that if one is in trouble, they believe they are all  in trouble, so they collaborate and pitch in and do what is needed to help out their fellow man until he or she is safe.

I’d drive to work, each and every day, for 9 years, with my eyes wide open on the westside of Phoenix. I’d see cars pulled over and several men pushing behind the car to help his amigo or amiga get to a safe place in the scorching heat, ya know it’s a dry heat, but it’s hot. It is similar to an oven and there I’d sit, conveniently, with my air conditioner blasting and my windows up and locked away from the heat. I’d see moms and strollers and a few children tagging along behind them like little ducks walking in a row across the street, making there way to school for the day, to get a top notch education. My school was the best of the best, despite the rumors that spoke otherwise. The teachers worked their fingers to the bone to help children. I’d go home at night worrying about my students and if they were going to have enough food to eat for dinner and if they were going to eat a nutritious breakfast. I had snacks stashed in my desk, just in case. I had a closet of extra supplies, just in case, as I wanted each and every one of my students to feel as though they mattered, were seen, had a voice, and that they counted.

I’d provide, as most teachers do, school supplies for each child. I enjoyed labeling each and every color-coded folder, spiraled notebook, pencil box, and more. I’d pile the supplies neatly on each of their desks so they would feel a little ease the first day, so all would feel equal and loved and seen and heard. Money was tight those days.  I’d pay my rent for the summer, upfront, and see how much was left to buy supplies in bulk from Target. I knew when all the sales were and when to go and when to not go and I made damn sure all of my students knew they mattered and didn’t have to worry about something as silly as school supplies.

Often, they would have 3 or 4 names and I’d do my best to pronounce them the right way, the Spanish way, not the americanized way. If they said their name the easier way, I’d make them go back and pronounce it the beautiful Spanish way. I wanted to know how to say their names correctly.

I don’t believe in walls, I don’t believe in keeping people out. I don’t believe in turning people away. I don’t believe in border patrol. I believe that Mexicans come here for a better life. I believe that Mexicans would do any and everything to provide a better life for their children and their families.

Have you ever thought about having to  strap your infant to your back and walking for hours upon hours in the heat, with little to no food in your tummy, burning sand at your feet, for a better life for you & your children? Have you ever thought about what it would be like to have to work so damn hard just to work for little to no money, doing jobs no one ‘wants’ to do, just for the ability to provide a better life for your family? Have you ever considered what it’d be like to walk and walk and walk, your back aching at every step, running on pure adrenaline, only to be turned away at the border, blisters on your feet, to be turned away by men dressed in hunter green suits, guns attached to their belts, and dogs by their sides sniffing you out for drugs?

Ponder that for a moment.

It breaks my heart. I think about this a lot. I think of Syria. I think about those moms and dads and their  faces of absolute terror and defeat. I think abut their poor innocent children and the fear and terror they feel for themselves and their families. Innocent children and good people are not being given a chance, whatsoever, to live freely. & it’s so incredibly unfair and unjust and inhumane.

I want to make a change.

I WILL make a change.

I hope to do something for people.

I WILL do something for people.

I care for people.

I will fight.

I will STAND for people.

I will be a worrier.

I will be a WARRIOR for people.

I’ve gotten in huge fights with people dear to my heart about border patrol and walls. Arguments have ensued about papers and legalities and convictions and drugs and more. I can’t make generalizations about a group of people, as good and bad people exist every and anywhere.

I stand strong in my belief that Mexicans come here for a better life, for the American dream, & just for the opportunity to work. Mexicans work hard, are grateful, honored, humble, appreciative,  gracious, kind, and loving.

I wonder how many of my students parents are here illegally, the fear they feel on a daily basis if they are found out, if they will be separated from their offspring. It’s scary. I wonder how they all are. I might have to go back to the westside & teach. I miss my kids so much and think of them every single day. They have my whole heart. I left part of my heart & soul at Spitalny Elementary School. There will be a day that I return to my Spanish speaking students and not let the testing pressures from the man force me to resign, again.

I walked into the kitchen to pour myself a cup of Joe. The news was blaring and it seemed too loud this morning. Talking ensued about concentration camps, Syrian refugees, gas masks, drones, bombs, planes, war, fighting, and dictatorship. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

I feel so hard and so much and there is no amount of prozac on planet earth to calm the worry that I feel. I worry about our people. I think about people. I pray for them. I ache for them. I shake my head for them. I wish I could make it all go away.

My stomach turned as I heard the news of the American that died in Korea. I shook my head & thought of his weeping mom & what that must have done to her heart & soul. I had to walk out of the room. I had to walk away. I had to get out. I had to leave. I can’t listen because it will soak into my skin and into my soul and I’ll take it on and it will change the course of my day.  I peruse Facebook & quickly glimpse at the tragic photo of that American’s father in complete breakdown &, again, thought of how that news must have hit his broken-hearted dad like a ton of bricks. I can’t look at Facebook. & the CNN pop up news messages via my iPhone, make my stomach turn every single morning.

What the fuck has happened to our world?

What the fuck is going on?

Why so much hate?

Why so much unaddressed mental illness?

Seeing Trump on TV makes my stomach turn. He makes me sick. I can’t decide if I’m more upset that he is our president or more upset that some of the people I love the most voted for such a bad man. Writing that he is our president makes me embarrassed to be an American.

After yesterday, I decided I can’t start my day with the news because it makes my heart hurt. & checking Facebook creates a similar feeling of nausea. It seems every day, these days,  a new person, or group of people, are dying or being tortured. I just can’t face it… not at the beginning of a brand new day as the sun comes up.

I went to the store to buy all of the essentials, and then some. Ya know, the stuff that keeps ya going at Legoland  for 12 hours straight: nuts, apples, bananas, protein packs, & chia seed clusters.

I lazily drank my coffee as I went up and down the aisles debating what type of Goldfish crackers to buy. It’d been a rough morning, as James decided that 5 a.m. was party time and he was not going back to bed. It wasn’t happening. His screams weren’t muted, & barely muffled, through the card board partitions my mother-in-law so kindly put together for our CA. hotel suite.

I’d gone up and down each aisle and found lots and lots of goodies. I was sort of in a hurry, as B is one of those peeps that likes to get to the theme park right when the doors open so we can beat the long ride lines. I routinely parked my cart at the checkout.

My bill of $150 gets declined via my red Visa card. I try again and the same result happens. I start sweating and getting embarrassed because ALL of my groceries have already been carefully bagged and the cashier is trying to go on a morning break and there is a line and B is waiting and he’s not answering his phone or texts and there I stand with an array of groceries defrosting before my eyes. I suppose I should thank Wells Fargo for not allowing my card to go through in CA. So… I get a series of texts from my bank asking if I approve such charges. I’m sweating and getting nervous that I’m running behind. Finally, I get the green light.

We arrive at Legoland & then my phone died and I realize I have no charger. Poop. As we are walking to the entrance, I realize I have forgotten wipes and pull ups and my bathing suit and B’s bathing suit and a swim diaper and flip flops for Hope and flip flops for me and flip flops for B. FML.

I was grumpy, despite my kids running and laughing excitedly through a new venture. I was in a bad mood because I was hung up on my declined card and I DECIDED to continue to be a victim and play this pity ass role.

Hope insisted on riding a rollercoaster that even I thought was a little scary looking. So, I agreed and we sat in the very back. & I looked at Hope after the first drop and she was holding her breath and looked frightened. I squeezed her hand and screamed my loud ass scream because I, too, was a wee bit scared but thrilled to be on this fun ride with my blonde-haired healthy first born.

Naturally, I got really hungry… again. So, I went to a cafe and got a big salad and waited for 30 minutes in the long ass line and when I got up to pay for my big salad. Once again, my card got declined. I turned bright red and turned without making any eye contact with a soul in that long ass line. I returned my salad and water to the cooler and knew, absolutely knew, there was a lesson in all of this.

We create our day, we create our joy, we create our happiness and the opposite is just as true. When we talk about all the ways we are wronged and what is wrong with the world, the world responds with more wrongs and provides more wrongs for us to talk about.

I wiped the sweat from my brow and sought food from my bag and searched for my full water bottle and took a swig. How lucky I am to have clean water and delicious and nutritious food at my fingertips. I semi-stomped my way back to B and the kids as they were waiting in a long line to drive the boats. I peeked down at them as they waited in line with their dad. B was looking at the map and holding James with the other arm, how lucky I am. I smiled and marveled at my beloved family. I decided right then I had to change, had to change my ways and my complaining. B noticed me and smiled and handed me his cc. I went back to that restaurant and I repeated what I’d done before hoping for a different outcome.

Sure enough, I heard the chime of the cash register as the card went through. I walked carefully to a nearby table outside. I sat down and I said to myself, “When we change the way we look at the things, the things we look at change.”

At that very moment, a gigantic whiter than white beautiful bird with a yellow beak swooped down and landed right on the concrete ledge directly in front of my table. He looked right at me and I marveled at him. His feathers were so clean, not a single sight of dirt. He stared at me as if trying to tell me to be grateful. I looked across at the stunning view of white and red roses as they lined the grassy hill that ran into a large lake. The breeze was just right. The trees were greener than green. The sky was bluer than blue and it was as if I’d decided to see my world through a different lens, to change my perspective just like that. It’s like a light switch, you decide what kind of day you are going to have and you create just that. A duck flew next to the large white bird. He landed on the ledge and they looked hungry. The duck had a single thick purple feather and the sun hit him just the right way to reveal his hunter green mask. I began talking to the birds and treating them as if they were my lunch guests. I peeked over to the boat ride and saw my husband with the kids between his legs helping to navigate the boat. I hopped up and yelled, “Hi, family.” B turned and I waved vigorously, hoping he could see how happy I had decided to be. Other children began to feed the birds giving them bits and pieces of bread and crackers. My lunch arrived and I ate it as if I hadn’t eaten in days and days. The food was so incredibly good. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. That beautiful bird was a sign to marvel in the small things because the small things become the big things.

I turned after a few minutes to hear the all too familiar voices of my babes and my husband. I screamed with delight to hear them tell me how they got to drive a boat all by themselves. I shared my crackers with them as they fed the white bird and the duck and I listened as they made quacking sounds.

Life is what we make it. Life is what we decide. We are the orchestrators and the authors and the illustrators of our own lives. We decide how we are going to live.

I’ll choose to listen to my children’s breathing & watch their chests rise & fall & be grateful that my children are alive & well.

I’ll continue to think of ways to contribute to the people that I love and the people of the world that I love, too.

I’ll hope & pray that the world becomes more loving, more peaceful, more tolerant, & more accepting.

I’ll look for ways to build longer tables & make more connections.

I’ll push for more bridges, less worry, less guns, more handshakes, hugs,  more empathy, more sitting with people rather than sitting above them, more listening, & less criticizing.

I’ll start with the woman in the mirror by choosing to raise tolerant, accepting, open- hearted, & open- armed children.

We’ll raise kind children.

We’ll raise accepting children.

We’ll raise world changers.

We’ll raise WARRIORS.

We’ll not ask what our children want to be when they grow up, but how they are going to change the world and make it a better place.

I’ll look for the helpers. I’ll look for the warriors. I’ll look for small and big ways to help. It’s so incredibly hard for me, so so so hard for me to go on my merry way while there is so much suffering in this world.

I am so honored to be here, to have freedom, to be safe, to be free, to have healthy children, and a soft place to lay my head each night. 

I believe we all deserve to have freedom, safety, healthy children, and a soft place to lay each night.

I wish we could all be blessed, equally.

I wish the world could be on an equal playing field the way I worked so hard for my students to have each year.

I wish I could wake up, tomorrow, and provide the world with all that it needed to be happy and free and safe and content and tolerant of all the beautiful people of this world.

I continue to contribute what I can each and every day and invite you to join me, too.

 

 

 

 

 

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