#39 I, Isabel Scheherazade, talk with Mimi and Olivia about Arturo. The twins leave the couch with Richard Scary to watch my sketches. Our talk begins with Arturo, but then we get into mother books, crying, and, um, well, I think I’m taking this personally. Or something. This is not JUST about our first grade buddy, that’s for sure.
Arturo’s Mom died, I say and, boy, did that get the kitchen very quiet, very quickly. Even the twins, who finished their brownies and are on the couch looking for Goldbug in a Richard Scary book, even they look up.
Last year, adds Olivia. Cancer.
Mimi says, That is very sad.
Olivia keeps going. The teacher told us that he hasn’t cried or asked for his mother. He just stopped talking.
So, how did your first buddy session with Arturo go?
It didn’t, says Olivia. She makes a zero with her fingers. Nada.
I start a sketch on the side of my math homework. Here’s how it went. We sit on either side of Arturo’s desk. I quick-draw two stick figures on little chairs. In between is an empty desk. Arturo’s underneath his desk. I draw a tiny boy, hiding. Mimi, Olivia, and the twins—they’d come over to the nook with Richard Scary–peer at my drawing.
Suddenly I remember something. I do some erasing and make Arturo’s stick hands cup the back of his ears.
Mimi says, Why, he’s trying to hear you better.
Olivia sniffs. I thought he was covering his ears.
Guess not, I forgot what he did with his hands until I started sketching.
Well, says Mimi. That’s a start! If he listens, then he’ll think. If he thinks, at some point he’s just going to have to let his thoughts out.
Right! It’s hard to keep your mouth shut for too long, Olivia pulls out her math homework. At least that’s what I think.
Mimi and the twins laugh.
I take books out of my book bag: Mother, Mother, I Need Another, Where’s My Mommy? and Llama Needs a Mama. We brought these to read to Arturo. But his teacher said “no books with mamas.”
I disagree, says Mimi. I think you and Olivia SHOULD read those books. She gets up from the nook to start supper. I know a little about this. I think stories with mothers in them will get him to talk.
Or cry, I say.
Mimi looks at me. But that’s not so bad, is it?
Isabel Scheherazade (who hasn’t cried since Mom and Dad died, in case you hadn’t figured that out yet.)