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Happy Mother’s Day to You-Know-Who

My mother, me and her beloved cat Cosmo.

First, a caveat: Legend has it that, when the placenta was washed from a nascent Mother’s Day, what the doctors found underneath was a tacky excuse to sell greeting cards. This is probably true, but it’s a probable truth I find too depressing to actually confirm. If you’ve got a stronger stomach for that sort of thing, this page is probably a place to start. If it is so, let’s just give thanks to the capitalist goons responsible for giving us another excuse to appreciate the mothers in our lives.

Here’s an example of my own mother’s greatness.

The Cold War was still going on in 2000 at Rev. Benjamin Parker Elementary School; at least it was if you believed the textbooks and the teachers. The decrepit public education infrastructure of the state of Hawai’i had produced a sixth grade classroom in which a stack of lightly mold-damaged, burnt-orange relics from the mid-eighties was still passing as a social studies text. It had also produced a besieged sixth grade teacher so ill-compensated he was forced to work a second job in the kitchen of the Crouching Lion Inn to make ends meet, who seemed determined to teach us what was in those textbooks, regardless of what had happened since they arrived in the classroom.

When began to tell us about the two Germanies that evidently still existed, I raised my hand and said I thought there was only one.

“That’s not what it says in the book,” he said, and went on with the lesson. I began to think maybe I was the one who got it wrong and asked my mother that night.

My mother was not outraged when I told her that night. My mother teaches at the community college in my hometown. She sees what comes out of Hawai’i schools. She’s realistic. What was a sense of outrage going to solve. Rather than marching into the principal’s office, my mother loaded my sister and me into the old car her mom used to own and motored down to the library.

There she explained the fall of communism and then busied herself about the library computers compiling information about the unified Germany. She photocopied 20 sets of yellow-and-red handouts and sent me to school with them the next day to hand out to my class.

Mr. Lee grudgingly passed them around and went on with his lesson. He never really seemed to like my mom, something that undoubtedly had to do with the angst-ridden whelp of a spawn she plopped into his classroom; once he preposterously accused her of being drunk when she came to pick me up, when she was simply on the verge of heatstroke (which she braved to retrieve her young, by the way). The youth of Kane’ohe may or may not have grown a little wiser about European geography — the same number as ever seemed to end up fudging their way through my mother’s Spanish class — but at least someone went out of her way to correct a little calcified hunk of the negligence that got them there.

At least one gawky, self-doubting sixth grader learned that day that those in power are fallible and sometimes arbitrary. He learned that, when they are wrong, he must empower himself with knowledge and find the truth, and he learned too that he has a responsibility to bring the truth to others.

  1. nike gentrified duk says:

    The article about the developers was clear and tackled a multifaceted issue well. Congrats on your work and interesting family story too. The truth can play hard to get at times….but if you really want it you can find it. I think hating all the lies at first is part of that process, though.

  2. kayla says:

    Anna Jarvis is a radical! Kudos to a woman that would get arrested in order to fight the commercialization of the holiday she founded. She is a mother I would appreciate.

  3. kayla says:

    Not only is this a wonderful tribute to your mother, it also showcases your talent as a writer. This is an amusing, thought provoking, and detailed portrayal of your experiences as a 6th grader and provides a window through which to view these same events with your reflection and analysis of them as an adult. People need to be empowered to seek truth and knowledge and yes if they possess that capability then they should be also be given the task of disseminating that information to others. Thank you for being one of these people, I hope there are many more.


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