Today I had three presentations at a school not far away and one of the teachers told me something that occurred with one of her students that left me momentarily speechless.

This teacher was familiarizing the class with my work by reading Silly Chicken. She took out a map and was showing the class where I came from (Pakistan) and where it was on the map. This is part of the pre-performance activities I created for my presentation teacher guide.

And while she was doing this, one of her students burst into tears.

It was so sudden, and so shocking. And a bunch of the students went to grab her some tissues.

And when the teacher asked her why she was so upset, the student said, “Ever since September 11th, 2001, people don’t like Muslims and I’m Muslim.”

She was so surprised that the school was bringing in an author who was Muslim, and she was Muslim too.

I guess I’d gotten a bit jaded.

One of the most common questions kids ask me is why I became an author, and my pat response is, “Two reasons. The first is that I love stories, always have! I thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to grow up and write the kind of stories I love to read. And the second is that I come from a culture that is quite different, and ever since 9/11 people look at us Muslims like we’re all crazy. I write stories to show them that we have funny stories and sad stories and we’re basically just like everyone else and we have stories to share too.”

Sure enough, a kid asked me that today, and I gave my answer, like I always do, and thought nothing of it, until the teacher came up to me in the staff room.

This stuff I do matters.

It really matters.

I’m dealing with kids’ identities for goodness sakes!

And it’s incredibly humbling.

It was a tiring day.

Came home and did some cooking preparation for my absence. I always feel sorry for hubby and son who’ll have to rely on a lot of takeout while I’m gone.

But it should be an interesting trip!

Hope I can wow them!

Over and out.