[caption id="attachment_13630" align="alignright" width="398"] ..........................................Rainbow, California..........................................[/caption]
Twice a week I teach writing to seventh and eighth graders at a small, rural school in Southern California. The school is the focal point of a fertile valley that keeps the Agua Tibia Mountains from toying with the Santa Margaritas. In this valley graced with ancient sycamores and gnarly live oaks, life and death, conflict and accord make their messy ways along tidy rows of ornamental plants, citrus trees, organic produce and the occasional hidden cannabis crop.
Nearly 60 percent of the area residents are white; nearly 70 percent of the students are Hispanic—many, the progeny of immigrants, the budding realizations of their parents' faith in better things.
At the beginning of the school year, the children wrote of their hopes to become doctors and rappers and psychologists, artists and mechanical engineers and police officers, parents and soccer players and just content with their lives. At the end of the calendar year, they wrote descriptions of the gifts they would give to loved ones if there were no limits, ninguno.
Here are a some of their responses.
If I could, I would love to give my dad his mother back, and also the problems he has to all go away.
A gift that I wish I could present to my family would be for them to have a better life than they already have.
I wish I could give my brother a brand new car.
The gift I would love to give to children and adults is to find a cure for cancer. The gift would be an antidote strong enough to cure cancer in only a drink. It wouldn't have an acrid taste or have any terrible side effects.
A gift I would wish to give is peace to the world … no fighting and everyone caring for each other.
A gift I would like to provide is money to the poor people in Africa.
I wish I could present [my friend] a unicorn. The unicorn's name would be Bob, because Bob is an awesome name. ... He would be able to talk and fart rainbows.
If I could grant a gift to someone I love, it would be to my parents and brother. It would be to present them papers.
I would like to present my grandpa a horse. ... This gift would help my grandpa get stuff done quicker, since he's so old.
A gift I would give to a homeless person would be a helpful dinner and clothes.
A gift that I would present to my father is an award for being an excellent example for me and my brother and for always telling us what's worthy and what's worthless.
I hope one day, when I have money, I'll get my mom exactly what she wants.
If I could present any special gift to anyone I love, I would present the gift to my grandma … to convince her brother to spend with her the day of Christmas.
I would like to give to my grandpa on Christmas a phone so he can call me.