Tuesday, October 03, 2006

making a difference in one child's life

Now, I’m no Ms. Marple, but the sound of children playing in the cul-de-sac outside my window these last couple days leads me to believe that Rutherford County’s fall break is upon us. These days are really the only thing I miss about teaching. Ah, to get paid to do absolutely nothing.

That pretty much covers all your employment situations, doesn’t it?

I suppose it does, but there was something extra special about getting paid to teach without having to do any actual teaching.

That’s pretty much true for every day you were in the classroom, isn’t it?

Probably. But you digress.

These sounds of happy children don’t bother me so much, as happy children tend to keep to themselves and even ignore me. It’s the children with that contemptible mix of unhappiness and talkativeness that I make every effort to avoid. I remember one such child at a birthday gathering here at Casa Camino for one of Mrs. Camino’s relatives…

(Rex looks up from the keyboard and stares at the bare wall to his right for a minute or so)

Anyway, that pretty much covers that story. I’m not sure there’s a moral to be had there, but…

You appear to have just thought about the story without writing it down.

Ah, so I did.

Well, I seem to recall that this particular child was the offspring of either a distant cousin of Mrs. Camino or some random passerby looking for free beer, margaritas, and trays of Mexican themed appetizers that, though quite tasty and much appreciated, seemed oddly out of place at a gathering for a family of Welsh descent.

I had been watching the child as he went from adult to adult asking questions about everything and talking about his sad little life. His parents seemed to encourage this, as they were obviously suffering a sort of fatigue from the child and were hoping to pass him on to others for a while. I did well to avoid him as I semi-mingled while hovering around the food and drink before sneaking upstairs with some beer to watch football in the comforting solitude of the Rexroom.

The kid, as you may have guessed, saw this and followed, and the only things worse than being in the company of an annoying child is being the only person in the company of said child.

Kid: (looking around) You have another room upstairs?

Rex: No, this is actually part of the neighbor’s house and I’m afraid they only invited me over. You’ll need to go back down at once.

He didn’t, of course, and I spent the next half hour having to explain the various contents within my fortress of solitude, hearing all about how bored and unhappy the child was, and then explaining to him the dangers of coming between a man who had been drinking and his televised football games.

Other adults eventually trickled upstairs, drawn perhaps by the increasing volume of the television that did little to drown the kid out. I was no closer to my desired solitude, yet I was grateful to have to a wider audience for the kid to choose from while dispersing his annoyances. He soon began a routine that he had tried quite unsuccessfully on me only minutes before. He spoke it like he knew it was his best material, and I suspect that he launched into so quickly with this new audience as a means of erasing the utter failure it proved on me.

It was one of those “everybody at school says I’m stupid” bits that stupid kids so often bear as their mantra, and the husband of one of Mrs. Camino’s friends listened to it and then spoke at length about how no child is stupid. I searched in vain for my cheesy little Wal-Mart keyboard to accompany him with some serious, yet comforting background music not unlike that found on any given eighties sitcom. It was unfortunately buried somewhere in the attic. Anyway, women swooned and remarked on how sweet his words to the annoying kid were, though I noticed that this only emboldened the kid and re-energized the annoying tendencies that had actually been waning a bit before someone went and paid attention to him.

Still, I was glad that other adults had been absent during my handling of the same situation, as they appeared to show a higher tolerance for this sort of thing.

Kid: All the kids at school say that I’m stupid.

Rex: All the kids?

Kid: Yes. And then they…

Rex: Well, Gerald…

Kid: My name’s Kevin.

Rex: Whatever. You see, Gerald, if all the kids agree on something it forms what adults like to call a “consensus”.

Kid:
What does that mean?

Rex: It means that you should accept the situation and consider your options. Sure you don’t want a beer?

Anyway, You can see that I’m not completely heartless. I went on to explain to him how one goes about taking all their anger and hate and rolling it into a tight little ball to store deep within their soul and then survive off for the majority of their formative years. I explained that beer aids greatly in making it through this time, but he insisted on letting his dislike of its taste get in the way.
Ah well, you can lead a horse to water.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kat Coble said...

I will NEVER look at the word "consensus" the same way again.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous shauna said...

Fall break? I never had a fall break. I guess that explains the street urchins and ragamuffins making my dogs bark ALL DAY LONG.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Sista Smiff said...

My kids are out of school Thursday and Friday. I think a trip to Mr. Camino's house would be a most educational way to spend a day out of school.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

To be honest I had never actually employed the word in something I was writing, kat, and had to look it up to make sure I was using it correctly.

I never had a fall break either, Shauna, but oh how I was grateful for all of these new breaks when I was teaching.

Seeing me in my natural element might actually motivate them to work harder in school, Sista.

7:56 AM  

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