Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I so totally rock. Want to know why? Thought so!

Rolled up to the Park Slope address for my first day of volunteer literacy tutoring and promptly made an ass of myself by accidentally flinging my IPod earbud fuzzy onto the Greeter. Plus, I was late.

The volunteer coordinator was very gracious, offering to sit with me and discuss the program, since all the other kids and tutors were already matched-up. Looking around the room, the kids appeared better off than described in the Orientation. One kid had a Razr.

Fortune smiled upon Trouble, in the form of a first grade boy. He looked dashing in his hornrims and Aquaman t-shirt, his mom looked adorably harried; juggling his backpack, her latte, and his little sister. Boy and I settled into some alphabetizing and poetry, while his mom booked out for some errands.

I showed Boy a groovy little trick for alphabetizing a list of words, he was suitably impressed. So were the tutor and two boys at the other end of the table. Preen. Boy has a bit of an attention-deficit problem, so we did spend time on discussing eraser function and how paper folds so nicely. Dangerous stuff, seeing as I am easily distracted by shiny objects, myself.

Poetry! Oh, how I loathe the stuff. Elementary school poetry assignments, however, I can dig. Boy was to posit on what he would do if he were a whale. He stared into space. I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and explained I would write down whatever he said and he could then choose which important whale lifestyle information to include in his assignment. Ten minutes later, we had "swim" and "blow water out of my spout". I was feeling a deficit in my attention, so I looked over at the older boys at our table and said, "Hey, do you guys happen to know what whales eat?"

They responded exactly as I hoped, screeched their chairs closer to the boy and I, shouting, "Plankton! Duh! Don't you watch Spongebob Squarepants?" Much to Boy's delight, they talked cartoons with him, drew him pictures of the cartoon plankton and began musing about how much plankton a whale would need to consume.

"Whales are big," Boy deapanned, "but not as big as dinosaurs. They are bigger than elephants, though." The older boys nodded at him: good one!

If boy were a whale, he would:
Blow water from his spout
Eat a lot of plankton
Travel the world

On to math homework, which we are discouraged from concentrating our time on (luckily for me). How hard could first grade math be?

"Uh, (other tutor), what's a polygon?" Boy gave me a you've-got-to-be-kidding-me look.

Reinforcements arrived to save the day. Boy's mom came back in and lavished praise on both of us. She, the boy, the other tutor, and the older boys all asked if I would be back next week. Preen.


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