We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.

–Mark Twain

Chapter 4. Our dear Mrs. Middleton the Strict sent us home with a regenerative task…

Our dear Mrs. Middleton the Strict sent us home with a re­gen­er­a­tive task one fine spring af­ter­noon, crisp with the trav­el­ing song of way­ward dan­de­lions and in­vin­ci­ble coun­try singers drunk on the booze left un­de­liv­ered by the winds of tomorrow’s next sur­prise. Her thir­ty stu­dents were to ask each of our par­ents, and in those days, most kids our age could boast two by law and two by so­cial proxy, which each was cast­ing their beloved bal­lot in November next. And on­ly then, af­ter due dili­gence and care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of the civic ex­e­ge­sis (spunk) we had learned in class, we must de­cide which can­di­date for President of our gift­ed na­tion we would sup­port if we were old enough to priv­i­lege the vote. As a nine year old 4th grad­er, and one of the more ac­tive ag­i­ta­tors in Mrs. Middleton 4th grade class, I was pre­pared to ex­e­cute this tran­scen­dent home­work task with the high se­ri­ous­ness of at least a fifth grad­er, maybe ex­cept a sixth. In fact, I fig­ured I was al­ready smarter than the most fifth graders, but be­ing the el­der sib­ling in my fam­i­ly, I had no one to com­pare my­self ex­cept to the gag­gle of young­sters, all of us five boys, who nev­er once glanced at a news­pa­per, much less opened a book they weren’t flogged mer­ci­less­ly by Mother to get up in that room, son, and do your home­work or I’ll give you some­thing to cry about if not by hell or high wa­ter, and none of them made the same hefty marks I earned with­out fail. But one prob­lem stood be­tween me and my task. The code of si­lence. My dad­dy and my mom­ma were damned near­ly un­ap­proach­able most of the day, even on week­ends. The on­ly time we all seemed to be to­geth­er as fam­i­ly was din­ner­time as we sat qui­et­ly mum on three sides of a stained ten-foot long wood­en door Daddy had con­vert­ed with spindly but strong wrought iron legs in­to a ta­ble spe­cial enough for us, but then that’s when the dread­ed code of si­lence be­gan in earnest. Rule num­ber one. No talk­ing at the din­ner ta­ble. Seasons flew by when ta­ble talk was al­lowed more of­ten than oth­ers, but when this par­tic­u­lar as­sign­ment made ta­ble talk a red-blooded American ne­ces­si­ty, the fam­i­ly was in ab­solute qui­et mode. We said a bless­ing, or we didn’t, but we al­ways asked to be ex­cused from the ta­ble, un­less we were still sit­ting there star­ing down some god aw­ful gut-churning liv­er, or fried egg­plant casse­role, un­touched, un­touch­able as al­ways, since the­last time we were tor­tured to eat what we dare not eat. All in si­lence. No com­plain­ing, No bick­er­ing. Yes tonight, President’s night, we had a fresh, tasty meal of li­ma beans and rice, iced tea to wash it down, and noth­ing but the ham hocks and a few home­work words to tus­sle for.

How many times have I heard, usu­al­ly right af­ter some pover­ty sta­tis­tic has been ut­tered, “Oh, that’s so sad. It’s al­ways the kids that suf­fer most.”

That’s a load! Unless you’re talk­ing about Africa. But in America, home of the God Who Gave Us the soup kitchen, most poor kids don’t re­al­ly suf­fer as much as their par­ents. Kids, even those who per­ceive their own low sta­tus, and chafe as a re­sult, still ac­cept life as it is be­cause they re­al­ly haven’t yet de­vel­oped the knowl­edge and skills en­vy re­quires to be tru­ly mis­er­able. It’s on­ly once poor kids grow up that their own prob­lems REALLY be­gin. Kids adapt. Invent fic­tion­al worlds, game every­thing in sight. If one doesn’t, then I’d guess those folks who pa­tron­ize the poor child with con­de­scend­ing fluff might have found them­selves a tru­ly suf­fer­ing child. What’s even more trag­ic is to flood a kid with gifts and plat­i­tudes with­out re­al prepa­ra­tion for the work­ing world of cut throat cap­i­tal­ism and smarmy elit­ist lib­er­al­ism where on­ly the well-connected and the beau­ti­ful tru­ly suc­ceed, quite sim­i­lar to the way crony cap­i­tal­ism works…

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