" The Family That Eats Together "                    by Xavia Kemena  

The moment the teacher announced the home work assignment,
my heart sank. As I look back, I’m sure a lot of other students
felt the same way.

Mr. Klondike was our 6th grade teacher. He told us to go home,
ask our fathers a 2 part question, then write a paper about it.
He might as well have asked us to jump off a cliff! What about
those of us who didn’t have a father at home? What about those
of us who didn’t get along with the man that was in our home?

This teacher was asking us to tread in very dangerous territory!
Why couldn’t he just give us algebra, trigonometry and rocket
science problems to do? That would have been easier than what
he was asking ! But no, he had to be all up in our personal life!

For the rest of the day, I thought about that home work assignment.
On the bus ride home, I really started getting upset. I kept telling
myself it would be alright. Just ask the question, write down the
answer, turn in my paper the next day. Simple as that.

When I walked in the front door, I looked at mom. I wanted to tell
her about the assignment, but she was busy cooking. Besides, she
never asked us about our day in school. She was the kind of person
that never asked, but if you wanted to talk, she was all ears. She’d
drop everything to listen to what we had to say.

As the time drew near, I kept rehearsing what I’d say, how I’d say
it and to smile as I said it. Ok.....

We all sat down to eat. My 2 brothers were on the left of me, that
man was to the right of me, at one end of the table and mom was
at the other end of the table.

I never sat near him, but tonight I had work to do. My heart was
beating really fast, so I had to get this over with. Mustering all the
courage an 11 year old could, under the circumstances, I opened
my mouth.

Intelligently, politely, with a smile on my face, I said,

“ So Mr. Lev, how do you like your job ? ”

He looked over at me, frowned and said,

“Shut up and eat your supper!”

My head automatically bowed in shame and embarrassment.
My brothers sniggered for a second, but cut it off, realizing how
wrong that monster was.

However, my mother had an entirely different reaction. Instead of
laying his ass out for embarrassing her little girl, or saying something
consoling to me, she started laughing so hard she couldn’t stop.
Loud laughing, like that was the funniest thing she’d ever witnessed.

I held my head up and looked at her. Even my brothers were looking
at her like they couldn’t believe their eyes. Or their ears. In that moment,
I hated her more than I hated her nasty man. She looked at me and
suddenly all her laughter dried up. Her look of enjoyment was instantly
replaced by fear. I left the table, went for a long walk by the ocean and
decided not to do what I was thinking of doing.

The next day in school, Mr. Klondike got quite a shock. Most of us
didn’t do that assignment. When he asked me why I didn’t do it,
I just looked at him without saying a word. Since I was seldom quiet
in class, he knew not to press me.

He never gave us an assignment like that again.