With a certain sense of satifaction, I dropped ZBoy off at school this morning - all forms securely zipped into his back pack.
As I drove down the driveway to rejoin the going-to-work traffic, I noticed a woman striding up the sidewalk and clutching the hand of a reluctant child, skipping in spite of himself to keep up with her.
Have you ever read THE SCARLET LETTER? It's a classic American novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in the mid-1800s. His heroine is Hester Prynne, a woman alone who gives birth after committing adultery, then refuses to name the father. As a badge of shame, she is forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest so that the town will know that she is an adulteress.
Hester crossed my mind as I watched this mother dragging her son to his second day of school. Not because I thought the kid might have been born out of wedlock, but because his mother wore a bright red shirt; across her chest was emblazoned the word "Illiterate".
Why would anyone advertise something like that? It's like standing beneath a giant flashing neon arrow that says "Lazy but Proud".
Because, unlike Hester, this woman could change her circumstances. Hester lived in a time when having a child of adultery was a HUGE problem. But once the seed was planted, there wasn't a whole lot she could do about it, but bear the child, endure the stares, and live as quietly and diginified as possible given the circumstances. "Illiterate" Mom just has to do the work, take the class, admit the problem - and the whole world could open up to her in a way she never dreamed.
I can't imagine not being able to read. To me, it would be like not being able to breathe. Reading is just as necessary to my life as respiration.
I really hope that "Illiterate" Mom is dragging her son to school because she KNOWS how important being able to read is. And that after she drops him off, she's going to go and learn how for herself. She could take that "A" off and change her life.