tutoring kids

Ramble On

I’m tired.

When I get tired, I talk too much. Tonight, I talked to a student’s parents for too long. They were very nice, and seemed to encourage me, but didn’t they have stuff to do? Weren’t they tired too?

And in the end, the boy’s dad encouraged me to write more about my dad. I’m just tired enough that it’s tempting, but somehow I had this stuff prioritized differently in my mind and I don’t know exactly why.

My dad had an experiment on Apollos 12, 13, and 14. He was an interesting man. He may have had legacy experiments on later flights, but he died and so he was no longer around the house talking about microwaves, triangulation, or signals floating on infrared waves. I always get stuck on the fact that he had such a sad ending to his story.

But when I was nine and he talked about signals floating on infrared waves, it felt like I was looking at those crayon drawings that kids make when they’re in kindergarten. I pictured little squares and triangles bobbing up and down on a lake full of rough red water.

The whole thing was invisible, which I would have spelled ‘invzball’ but that just meant they were tiny squares and triangles on a narrow stream of wavy red water.

Can you tell I’ve been working with younger kids today? One of them kept putting his hands down his pants. What do you say to a kid that keeps putting his hands down his pants? I wanted him to go wash his hands before he picked that pencil back up. What do you say?

Nothing, I guess. I just pressed my lips together, kept my eyes on his page, and tried in vain to ignore it.

The other kindergartner I tutored was amazing at drawing so I showed him a line drawing of a panda bear and he copied it exactly, even with the little white spot in the center of each eye where the light seems to hit.

Damn!

I wrote a note to his parents that he had talent. I don’t know why my dream was that his parents would take him out of tutoring and put him in art classes, but I don’t really want to give him up. I think I’ll bring colored pencils for him next time and a cube or something geometric for him to draw.

Geometry is visual, right? There is art in math and math in art. Right?

Except that I’m supposed to be teaching him reading and writing. The funny thing is that he isn’t all that bad at reading and writing.

So, I’ll have him write comics where he can write great thought bubbles with panda bears that say, “See her run to her dog. See her pet him.”

Vocabulary words for kindergarten is so narrow.

Maybe it’s haiku, seventeen syllables, ready to throw a single image on the page.

And now you know what I sound like when I’m tired, one idea flowing uninterrupted into another, never knowing where or when to stop. It’s as if I’m a little drunk and think I’m so incredibly brilliant and I write something down that will be sage through the ages, but then in the morning, stone cold sober, I look at it and it’s cliche. Or worse, it’s something someone else said better, but I forgot that they’d said it. The best-case scenario for drunk writing was when I woke up and could not read a word of what was so brilliant the night before. I’m glad I don’t do that any more. It’s bad enough when I’m tired and will read this ramble-on in the morning.

Thank you for listening, jules