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2005-07-08 | 10:19 a.m.

There are three boys in my back yard playing store. Jinx, Rojo, and Sean; six, eight, and five. All three of them are shopkeepers and also customers. They stand behind their respective storefronts and try to entice each other to buy.

Just as in life, everybody wants to sell, but nobody wants to buy. There is nothing for sale that they haven't all seen before. Anything that's any good is too expensive.

Rojo just said, "Man, Jinx, we gotta start going to Sean's shop. He's broke!"

A surfeit of compassion coming from him. He is a better person than he used to be, though still beyond most people's capacity to endure. I give myself part of the credit for helping him change.

And Sean used to be so sweet, so mild, so easy to have around. But now he's moody and unpredictable. "He flashes," Bambi says. One minute he's fine and the next minute he's glaring, defiant, mouthy. Still debilitatingly shy, still wants to be a pop star.

He went to kindergarten this year and my job was to pick him up after school and drive him to my mother's house, where Bambi would pick him up after work. Sometimes I kept him for the afternoon. Now that it is summer, he is with me more. And I have Rojo every day regardless.

Clearly, these boys are part of my work, whatever that is. And there are still two more "coming up" through the ranks: the twins. They're supposed to start kindergarten this year, but they won't turn five until the end of November. I keep telling Bambi they're not ready for kindergarten, but she can't keep them in preschool for another year because the preschool is government-subsidized and won't allow them to stay once they're of age for kindergarten. So I told her I want to keep Anthony home with me next year. She is very resistant to the idea and keeps saying, "he'll be fine." But I don't think so.

Kindergarten in California isn't what it used to be. Sean had homework every day. Not just fun stuff, either. Worksheets. Worksheets that were obviously beyond his ability. Have to make sure we've got them feeling inadequate right out of the gate.

I am supposed to be writing a proposal for a literary analysis class I want to teach for junior and senior high school students from our charter school. I'm using the word "want" loosely. I taught lit classes for a couple of semesters while I was falling out of grad school and I remember it as disastrous. But when I think about it a bit longer, I remember the classes themselves weren't bad. The problems were the paper load and grading, which I found overwhelming, and that I didn't do much prep (surprise), which would have made everything so much easier.

None of this is terribly interesting, I realize. But it is what's going on. Sometimes a diary is just a diary.

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