The less positive, though interesting bit, I suppose, was the mix of people I got hang around with in the parents' waiting room while the kid was doing the test. As you might expect in Arkansas, almost all of them far-right Xtians; almost all of them had between six and 7,000 children. One of the women sitting on my sofa apologized abjectly to another of the women for only having four children. "I got cancer, there," she said delicately, "after my fourth, and had to have it removed." The woman she was talking to had had eleven children. "But three of them are with God," she explained, and then proceeded to describe, at the top of her lungs, in a room filled with toddlers and young children and young adolescents -- because all the kids who weren't getting tested that day, and that was all the kids not in the 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7th grades, all those kids were hanging out with their parents -- this woman described in extensive detail exactly how her three dead children had died.
She also explained how DHS is "owned" by the devil, as is the Fort Smith Police Department. As are women doctors. As are Public Schools. She knows this last because they don't say the Pledge of Allegiance, because it has the word God in it.
Meanwhile, she had an actual child with her, her youngest, about four. This child she was totally ignoring. He kept trying to climb in her lap, and kept asking her for something to eat from the giant Wal-Mart bag she had brought along. She ignored him as wholly as though no one had been with her at all. Earlier -- she had five kids with her, three other boys, and a older girl -- the girl with her had been taking care of this little boy, who had started just beating the living shit out of his Down's Syndrome brother, who was about four years older than him, maybe? She ignored that, too, though it went on for about 15 minutes. The older sister kept trying to make the little boy stop hitting his brother, but she got no back up. When she asked the mom for help, the mom ignored her too. The brother getting beat up did not defend himself at all. He just let his little brother beat him up. And I mean this kid was hitting him hard.
One of these kids was in my kid's testing room, the sixth grade. She said he seemed nice. Another kid was in there, too: a Buddhist from New York. She said that one (who gave my kid a pencil when her pencil broke) asked everyone what religion they were. He seemed pleased to discover my kid was Jewish. She's the first Jew he has met in Arkansas, he said.
The other kid said he was Christian, but that it wasn't a religion, it was a relationship.
"Which," my kid said, later, on the way home, "okay, that's just sick."
"Yeah, it is a bit," I agreed.
"What," she said, "is he hanging out with Jesus? Do they go to the mall? Do they make-out? What?"
"He's a Jesus 'shipper," I said.
She gave me a withering look. "Mo-o-om. That is not what shipper means. Shipper is someone who says two characters in a work should get together romantically. Like if someone thought the Doctor and Amy Pond should get together -- they'd be a DoctorXAmy shipper. Jeez."
"Ah." I considered. Then, maybe a tiny bit sarcastically. "Thanks for clearing that up."
"I spend a lot of time on the internet! Don't judge me!"