We got a new student this week.
Occasionally, the behemothic system of educational placement rolls double turds, and a kid that has no business being with us, ends up here anyways.
Picture a young Latino, immaculately groomed, dabbed with an appropriate amount of cologne, well-dressed, slick cellphone in hand, a pack of Kools tucked away in his pocket.
He has less of a disability, and more of a criminal record, with a dash of trouble talking about his feelings.
We shall call him Julio, and we will lead this young man through his first day in our class.
In the rare moments that Julio paused in his texting, he witnessed:
Me, his only adult male role model in the class, making my Family Face and percussing Purple Girl's backfat, while she did an impromptu Cookie Monster rap:
Oh yes, I should explain Family Face.
I have noticed, much to my shame, that the four members of my family all make an unconscious and unbidden expression whenever we see something cute, or grab that cute thing and maybe bite it, or pound out a rhythm on any surface, or attempt to wrestle, dance, or lift weights.
The face consists of the top teeth bucking out and sinking deeply into the lower lips.
The skin of the face then pulls in sharply towards the overbite epicenter. The more frantic or strenuous the labor, the more the Family Face intensifies.
It is not uncommon, in our home, for me to watch my children wrestle in a puppy-like pile on the floor, and look across the room to see my wife mirroring my expression.
It is as embarrassing as it is uncontrolled.
So after I regain composure, I introduce myself to Julio.
After that inauspicious debut, I get behind Julio and try to see the classroom as he would see it.
It is so strange.
Julio did not come back today.
I feel like I let him down somehow, but I can't pinpoint exactly when that letdown took place.