I spend my work days almost exclusively with children and no adults, so sometimes I’m tempted to have a more intellectual conversation than they are capable of having.
After reading this segment of a larger article on how pioneer children entertained themselves….
Kid: “Ok…but then what?”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Kid: “How is that a game? They’re just swinging a button.”
Me: “Right…well. I think that’s the point of the article. To compare and contrast how pioneer children entertain themselves with how children entertain themselves now.”
Kid: “Oh my god. I feel so bad for them. They must be so bored!”
Me: “Ironically and interestingly, I don’t think they were. Because they had to work harder to entertain themselves, they were probably better at it and more content than today’s children. Having to work harder for your entertainment makes you appreciate it more.”
Kid: (blank stare)
Me: “Ok, never mind. That might have been a bit over your head.”
Kid: (blanker stare)
Me: “Sometimes I overanalyze and put more of a psychological spin on these things than is necessary.”
Kid: (blankest stare)
Me: “Let’s get back to the article. What was the main idea?”
Kid: “Pioneer kids’ toys SUCK.”
Me: “Ok…not exactly….”
Kid: “I’m going to send them some better toys!”
Me: “But…you can’t send pioneer children toys…”
Kid: “Because they live too far away?”
Kid: “Or maybe their parents don’t let them take stuff from strangers?”
Me: “Stop talking and put down the pencil.”
Helping a middle schooler edit her essay on the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (which I have never read)….
Kid: “Ok, so, I have a serious question for you, and I need your opinion as a teacher.”
Me: “Go for it.”
Kid: “So there’s a part of the essay where I’m explaining the main character’s reaction to a really upsetting event, but I’m afraid to quote the event, because it’s like REALLY bad. Do teachers care if you quote bad language?”
Me: “Well, honestly, if the book was assigned by your teacher, then he knows about the language. And if using that specific quote truly helps to verify your argument, then you are absolutely allowed to do so.”
Kid: “But it’s like REALLY bad. Like the teacher might get mad.”
Me: “Again, if you are quoting the book, and it makes sense in your argument, it’s perfectly fine.”
Kid: “You’re sure?”
Me: “I promise.”
Me (laughing): “I swear! I wouldn’t lie to you!”
Kid (opening the book): “Ok, it’s this part here.”
(I read the words “Did you know that Indians are living proof that niggers fuck buffalo?”)
Me: “Oh, ok. Nope. You can’t write that.”
Furthermore– what the shit?! Who’s assigning this stuff to a MIDDLE SCHOOLER?!
Me: “Do you know the name of the bird in the picture?”
Me: “Ok, let’s try chunking the word to make it easier to sound out. You’ll see that when you break up the word, it isn’t so big and scary. It’s all smaller words you can figure out and then blend together.” (covering up end of word) “Try saying this first part alone.”
Kid (concentrating very hard): “C-O-CK…C-ooooock…C-OCK!! COCK! COCK!!!”
Me: “That’s right! Cock!”
And that’s when her dad walked in.
Quick update on this lady, who, as you will recall, inquired about a reading tutor for her 1-year-old…
We have a phone appointment this afternoon to discuss what it is, exactly, she means by “reading.” If it is a sane notion (aka “I’d like my baby to be read to, and perhaps exposed to the alphabet song”), then I might just consider taking the job. No one needs to tell her that these are tasks she– or an iPhone app– can handle for free.
She also mentioned in our email exchange that she is pregnant, so I expect to be asked about options for in-utero tutoring.
“Is that like an Emmy for books?”
— Eric, when I told him that the book I’m reading was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Last time I look to this crowd for a pat on the back.
(Insert hours of absolute dead radio silence)
Who told him?
During reading assessments…
Me: “In this passage about a fishing trip, you will see the word ‘minnows.’ Do you know what minnows are?”
Kid: “Of course! I eat them all the time!”
Me: “Ummm…I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. I’m talking about bait used to catch bigger fish.”
Kid: “Big fish eat minnows?!?”
Me: “Well, yes…”
Kid: “Just like how I eat minnows?”
Me: “Ok, so, again–I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing.”
Kid: “Yes we are! Minnows! My mom buys them at the CVS. I like strawberry best. But also the mint ones.”
Me: “Ok so…minnows. Not Mentos.’”
Kid: “Ooooooh! Yeah I don’t know what minnows are.”
Doing reading assessments…
Me: “Ok, good job reading that story! Now can you tell me what it’s about?”
Kid: “No not really.”
Me: “Oh. Why not?”
Kid: “Well…it’s just. This really isn’t the best day of my life.”