Yesterday, the 2nd graders went on a rock hunt to a nearby park. This field trip closed out a unit of study on geology that we finished up this week. It’s always a fun (free) field trip, and the kids LOVE IT. We send the kids off to hunt for rocks with a bucket or a sack. They are told that they may collect the rocks to take back to class for further observation, but whatever they take they have to carry. Most kids pick up a handful of small-to-medium sized rocks and easily return with them to school. Others, well, let’s just say on the walk back to campus most of theirs fall out of the overfilled bag or bucket, and they end up with nothing upon their return.
Anyhow, G is a student who falls into the latter category. Right out of the starting block, G found a piece of concrete about 5”x5” that had an impression of some kind in it. He brought it to me asking if he had found a fossil. It was really very cute. I told him that it was like a fossil, and explained that it was a piece of concrete with an imprint in it…about 47 times, which by that time it was no longer cute. He also asked me 47 times if he could take it back with him. My response to that question always is, “You may take any rock back if it fits in your bag. But remember you have to carry it. I will not.”
While I roamed around the park, checking in with my kids, I noticed G carrying his “fossil” debating what to do as it was awfully big for his bag. Just before rounding everyone up to eat lunch, he came up to me carrying his wrinkled bag, flattened and stretched out as far as it would go without tearing. He had a huge grin on his face.
“Miss Delight! I made it fit!” he was beaming.
“I see that,” I responded.
“Yah, just like a Mexican,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Wait, what was that?” I asked, wondering if I heard him right.
“I made it fit,” he said proudly, “like a Mexican. We make things fit.”
“I haven’t heard that before,” I said. “Who told you that?”
“Oh, my uncle, my mom, everybody.”
Now living in Southern California I have heard many stereotypes about Mexicans. This was a new one. While the kids ate lunch, I mentioned the story to the other teachers I teach with, one who is married to a Mexican. We all had a chuckle over this 7-year-old’s stereotyping himself, as it was a new one for them too.
I texted one of my friends, who also happens to be Mexican. I told him the story and asked what he knew about it. This was the response…
”It’s true! The browns make it work. It is a bad stereotype, but funny.”
You learn something new every day. And hey, if you’re going to have a stereotype, being a people who make things work, that doesn’t seem so bad.