My youngest just graduated from kindergarten. Come September, he’ll ride a bus, he’ll carry a lunchbox, he’ll have a pencil case. And so in preparation for all of that, we took him to the “big kid” school to register. I was given the usual forms–proof of immunization, emergency contact list, permission to access the internet, please oh please join the PTA….. Then a bright green paper asked if we spoke English in our home. Easy, yes. Was English your child’s first language? Well, No. What was their first language? Mandarin.
I turned in my forms and the nice woman at the desk glanced through them. At the green paper, she stopped. Oh, English isn’t his first language. “Hmm,” she said, “this will be flagged by the district and he’ll need ESL screening.” I told her it wasn’t necessary, that he no longer spoke Mandarin and that his English was fantastic. She said she understood, but that it wasn’t her call, district policy. I asked her if she wanted me to change the form to say Yes, English was his first language, just to save everyone the trouble.
“No,” she said, “Let’s be honest, and really, it’s no trouble. A woman named Mrs. Little will come to do his evaluation…..”
At this point, XiXi, who’d been listening quietly, piped up.
“Mrs. Little? Like Stuart Little? There’s this show, and it’s about a mouse and his name is Stuart and he gets adopted by a family, except they’re not mice, they’re people, and his mom, she’s named Mrs. Little, just like that lady that you said is coming to the school!”
The woman looked at XiXi. She looked at me.
“I think it will be a quick evaluation.”