This is the 2nd half of the story. The first half can be found here.
Soon after they settle down in the Mount Oak Township, Zina starts to feel that something is happening to her son Chris. He’s not as chirpy and happy as before. When his mother asks him about his day, he often replies, “OK.” End of the story. When his mother asks him about the friends he has made in school, he says, “a couple.”
“What’s going on with Chris? He doesn’t talk to me anymore.” Zina asks her husband. After a twelve hour day in their shops, Kit Lee is very tired.
“Can we have a rest? Don’t you feel tired? Well, I heard that some kids are like that. Remember our friend Pammy’s kid? He’s pretty silent whenever we see him.” Kit says.
“Pammy’s kid is a teenager. Of course he’s sulky. But Chris is only eight years old.” Zina says.
A little more investigation reveals that Chris feels very out of place in his new school. Nobody would play with him and he misses his old friends in Edison. Zina thinks giving him a little time, things will look up, but unfortunately that’s not the case. After one semester, Zina loses her hope.
“What am I going to do?” Zina asks her friends Pammy and Lulan the next time they meet.
“Move back to Edison.” Lulan says.
“I can’t do that. People will laugh at me. ‘Look at Zina. She wanted to fly to higher branches, only to be defeated. Now she comes back with her tail between her legs.’ I can’t let people despise me like that. I have to keep up my appearance.” Zina says.
“Give me a break, Zina. Let your friends have some fun at your expense. Be a good sport.” Lulan says.
“No.” Zina says.
“OK. How about move to a town with bad schools? The house will be cheap and property tax is cheap. You can use the saved money to send Chris to a private school.” Pammy says.
With the tip from Pammy, Zina launches a new “attack” on her husband Kit Lee at the dinner table about selling the house in Mount Oak and moving to Piscataway, which is a township next to Edison and has a below average school system. Kit is livid and refuses to listen to “the mad woman”, which is what he starts to call his wife. However Zina persists. She continues to talk, explain, cajole, and coax. And best of all, she uses her compliments of Kit strategically. Eventually Kit gives in.
Since it is winter time, the selling of the house is not so quickly done. Usually spring and summer time are better for the housing market. As they are waiting to sell their house, Zina starts to apply for several private elementary schools for Chris close to Piscataway. Soon after the application, one of the private schools asks the parents and the kid to come in for an interview.
“Chris looks like a nice, quiet kid. We only have one question. Your transcripts show that you moved from Edison to Mount Oak public school last year. And now less than one year later, you want to move again?” One of the two interviewers asks.
“Yes, I would be happy if we can stay in Mount Oak for good, but Chris can’t make any friends there.” Zina says honestly.
The two interviewers exchange doubtful glances at each other.
“Chris, can you tell us why?” One of the interviewers asks.
“I don’t know.” Chris says.
“You don’t know? Can you tell us more?”
“No.” Chris says.
The two interviewers are a little more alarmed. At length, they tell Zina and Chris to go home and wait for their decision.
“Chris, please say something. I don’t like your short answers.” Zina says to Chris. And then she turns to the interviewers, “Chris is a normal kid. A very smart normal kid. He doesn’t have behavioral problems, which must be what you are thinking right now. You think it is Chris fault that he has to move from Edison to Mount Oak and then from Mount Oak to here. It is not. It is all because his father is wasting our money, you know, that we have to move from Edison. It has nothing to do with Chris. It’s not Chris’ fault at all… And I have to tell you ever since we settle down in Mount Oak, his father hasn’t gambled at all…”
“I don’t understand you. What happens to his father? A gambler?”
Zina’s English is not the best and the urgency of the situation makes her English even worse. She continues to prattle about Kit Lee’s spending habit, Mount Oak’s real estate, and Chris’ behavioral change, in the hope of pleading her case. However, her messy explanation only makes the situation worse. The two interviewers get more confused and uneasy. It looks to them that the family is dysfunctional with a gambling father, incoherent mother, and silent behavioral challenged kid who has no friend.
On the way home, Zina sighs and feels that the application is not going well. Then her telephone rings–her realtor calls to tell her that there’s a buyer for her house.
(To be continued here.)