The Equation

Posted in front of every now closed, public or private school is some variation of this poster. This one was taped on his school’s purple gate. This is the gateway each morning that transforms Kojo from the loud chatty guy into a quiet shy observer. As we walk through each morning, he appears to shed his warm home vest and put on his cool school shell. It is also at this gate that Kojo gives a giant high five to either Nin or Dang depending who is on duty. This is the gate where we saw the lion hanging for the Autumn Festival, the flags for International Day, and the the peach blossoms for the lunar new year. 

We walked by his school yesterday. From a hundred feet away he asked, “What’s that on the gate?”  

We’ve past several posters already on our walks and he’s asked to stop every time we see one. These vivid images are designed just for him. Most of the environmental print around us is filled in fonts and combinations of letters that are foreign to us. With these drawings, he can begin to make meaning on his own. He has lots of experience reading pictures. 

“Read it, Mamma,” he still insisted.

I began to interpret the images. 

“Coughing is ok?”

“Yes,” I answered. “It’s natural and happens sometimes.”

“Those aren’t vegetables in the pot,” he protested.

“Well then what is that green thing there that looks like broccoli?” I said pointing to the forth box. 

“Why is he telling her to stop?” 

“He doesn’t want to get too close to people he doesn’t know,” I answered clumsily. 

This version of the poster was an easy sell. Another one we past earlier in front of a large public school on the corner from the park, was much more controversial. There was a menacing green blob chasing a child who was running away. The green creature has deep bends in his eyes making him look angry and was running with his tongue sticking out of his mouth as if he was hunting for his next meal. 

I decided to stop at the colorful gelato sign with swirling blue and orange lines forming the scoop on the giant cone in front of the shop down the street. I then led him under the flashing carrot hanging by the veggie store and pointed at the smiling chef on the sign above the bakery. We took the long way home to greet the dancing chiles above the Mexican restaurant on the neighboring street.

That should do it, I thought as we approached our home gate. 

1 green blob = 1 ice cream cone + 1 flashing orange carrot + 1 happy chef + 2 dancing chiles

5 thoughts on “The Equation

  1. We continue to learn a lot about Kojo. What he is noticing, in another part of the world. I am also learning how he learns and the part you play in it. From his picture reading to poster reading. You are helping him make sense of the world in realistic ways.


  2. This rules. Kojo, still here, still vibrantly giving us adults ways to see the world differently. Keep washing hands and eating healthy green things. 🙂


  3. I’m struck by your son’s desire to read and make sense of the world. And by your adult scaffolding of it. And I’m so glad that gelato was part of the equation!


  4. I like the visuals in the signs, but I am very curious about the pot of boiling water which may or may not contain vegetables. I wonder if it says you should eat soup to keep healthy? I definitely agree that the gelato cone and the dancing chilis are a much better visual than the scary chasing green blob.


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