I like to give the students I work with nicknames. I find it helps to pass the time.
Kid Flash arrives at 8 am. He's freckle-faced and tow-headed. He has a warm smile for adults and kids alike. He is inquisitive; he'll ask a question every thirty seconds, if you'll let him. The questions range from "Which do you like better, Shrek or Donkey?" to "If I was purple and floaty, would a shark eat me?" to "Why does my brother lock me outside?". He has theories and ideas about everything that will happen in the future: "In the future, I'm going to invent a titanium house that has layers that you can build right on top of an earthquake and it'll be ok." He is forthcoming about his fears and nightmares: "Last night I dreamed that I saw pirates invade my house and they were everywhere and then they weren't there except that they were there but then they weren't and then my family was there and then they doubled and doubled and doubled and then they turned evil. And then I ran into my room and then I woke up." I wanted to tell him that I call that "family reunion", although in my version there's usually a carnivorous plant. He shares his thoughts and questions and ideas barely taking breath while he flits about the classroom distracted by anything shiny, in shadow or not nailed down. If I'm lucky, I can coax 10 math problems out of him between bursts in an hour. He's going to be 11. I think if you tried to give him Ritalin, it would vaporize upon hitting his system, dump out through his pores, coalesce and reform, and then march over to his parents with a white flag saying "Look, we tried..."
The All American Boy arrives at 9 am. He owns one t-shirt. It reads "I Make Stuff Up." Every other shirt he appears to own seems to be a wife beater. Clearly his fashion choices (bullshit themes and white trash couture) mark him early as a soul in search of the American Dream. In his case, the American Dream is to do as little as possible and still get full credit for it. He's 12. I guess it's good that he's figured this out early. However, he's good natured about the whole thing. He'll try to distract me with clever conversation: "So, yesterday I made six dollars selling lemonade. Can I buy you a Powerade?" He marvels at my intellect: "You, like, know everything. Can you live in my desk at school next year?" He was very earnest when he asked me that. I had to let him down easy: "Well, no. I have a job. And they pay me in money instead of Powerade." He was a little depressed, but he rallied: "Oh. Well, did you know that my brother has an insect collection and sometimes he lets me feed the tarantula?" It was cute. I didn't even have the heart to tell him that an tarantula is an arachnid and not an insect.
Today was The All American Boy's last day of tutoring. He's taking a well earned rest on the Cape before the rigors of the school year. I'll miss him.
One more week to go. Perhaps I'll regale you folks in future posts with the stories of the children whose Native American tribal names are "Stick In The Mud" and "In 7th Grade But Has Smoker's Cough".