I sat with two second graders today after they finished a county-wide standardized assessment. We were coloring while we waited to be admitted back into their classrooms. As we colored one friend chatted on and on about how much she loves her new house, drawing the happy details as she talked. Suddenly she was interrupted by the other friend,
"I hate my apartment. We use to live in a house, but not anymore. And I hate it. Nobody there speaks English and everybody sits around on the steps and spits. They spit everywhere. And don't even clean it up. It just stays there, all the spit. And I can't play outside 'cause it's not safe. And last night I saw them try to rob this woman. At least that's what I think they were doing. 'cause they were outside her apartment and she was yelling and then the guy ran into her apartment and hit her. And then he spit on her floor and left. And he didn't clean up the spit. Gross"
The town-house friend looked as startled as I was at the monologue that just erupted from nowhere. Neither of us knew what to say. As I wracked my brain thinking of nice comments I could make like, "well, do your friends live nearby?" or even, "Yeah, I use to live in an apartment too. It was really loud" the town-house friend commiserated,
"Spitting?! That's SO gross"
"Yeah" the sad apartment boy nodded vigorously, and then happily went back to his drawing, making no more comments on his apartment.
Sometimes all you need is someone to recognize the horrors you face and commiserate with you.