After school we laughed for a bit, and then she retreated to her bedroom where she would spend the next hour or so studying math, Spanish, and social studies. A smile curled at the edges of her mouth, though her eyes were contradictory. The door closed – and I drifted away to the previous summer when we were all together in a foreign land surrounded by lush jungles and waterways teeming with wildlife. We were on vacation – carefree and happy. A small family from America with our American pace being forced to slow down in this strange little country. A sparkling emerald on a sapphire sea. A place where we breathed clean air, ate fresh food, and made friends with natives who didn’t care as much about our pocketbooks as other places we’d visited. Then I thought about her studies, and how the school system was doing its best to prepare her for life in the American machine with test after test and homework that too often lasted too late into the night. She was a block of clay at twelve being molded for success in the land of opportunity – where hard work and perseverance could pay off with money to spend on a nice house and nice cars and a nice vacation every year. The succulent carrot dangling just out of reach.
Behind her bedroom door, she studied. I thought about telling her the truth about how everything she’s fighting so hard to learn now will have little relevance later in life. But didn’t. She was a good kid who worked hard and who would fit right in with a busy American life. Where if you were lucky, and you followed the rules, you might, perhaps, one day save enough to live in a place where time seemed to pass a little slower, the air was a little sweeter, and the people didn’t care what brand of car you drove.