I’m embarrassing the pubescent testosterone right out of Miguel just by standing in the doorway of his homeroom class.
Miguel’s a 13-year old 8th grader trying desperately to cultivate a mustache that looks like a black caterpillar, an attitude that makes Eminen in 8 Mile seem like a pussy and hair spikes that put Darth Maul’s horns to shame.
Miguel has forgotten, yet again, to meet me in the library for our half-hour, Monday morning reading session and I’ve had to track him down like a ticked off mom and lasso him in front of his friends.
(Also, my mustache puts his to shame).
When he follows me, slouching out of the classroom, I ask if he’s brought The Hunger Games, which is the book we’re reading.
“I forgot it at home,” he deadpans.
This is the second time this month Miguel’s forgotten his book, but I’ve tricked him by borrowing a second copy for myself.
I whip it out of my purse, “Don’t worry,” I say, like a prosecuting attorney revealing damning evidence to the defendant, “I’ve got a spare.”
Why isn’t this tutor slash tutee relationship turning out like an After School Special?
Shouldn’t Miguel be initially truculent, then slowly unfurl before me like a flower seeking rays of sunlight?
Shouldn’t I be the Anne Sullivan to his Helen Keller? Even though he’s not deaf, blind and mute, but merely attempting to be too cool for school?
Where is the gratifying sense that I’m “making a difference,” hence worthy of Sainthood?
Or, at the very least, a ladyship bestowed upon me by the Queen? (I could get used to Dame Colleary. Holla!)
Instead my progress with Miguel has been frustrating as I find myself in an uphill battle to help someone who patently does not want help. (Or perhaps is just too shy and embarrassed to accept it graciously?)
Yesterday, after two months of missed opportunities, we did manage to get to work in time to read an entire chapter.
I read to him, because when he reads aloud his comprehension plummets.
I can’t tell if he’s enjoying the story or not. He sits leaning away from me (perhaps made uncomfortable by my bossy Woman Fire – which can intimidate and even frighten young males) and I read at him, not knowing if this is helpful or not.
But something happened yesterday that deepened my desire to forge ahead despite his seeming indifference.
Often I stop and explain the meaning of difficult words. But yesterday I asked him if he knew what “perimeter” meant, expecting him to shrug his shoulders.
Instead he answered, “Isn’t that, like, the out limits of an area?” “Yes!” I exclaimed, as if he’d cured menopause.
And there it was. The hint of a smile under his fledgling mustache. A glint of pride in his eyes.
Oh, my darlings how lovable people can be.
I’ll show up every Monday now with a spring in my step. Maybe he won’t ever praise and appreciate me. Maybe this won’t make much of a difference in his life. I don’t know.
But it’s changing me.
Commitments do that. They elevate the way we see ourselves, the way we move in the world, forcing us to engage with people we might normally dismiss. Then suddenly strangers are people we can appreciate and love. And the world becomes a community.
Onward ho! (As in cheerful exclamation, not hip hop, twerking video vixen).
(Author’s note: Facebook is now charging money for each post I place on my Fan Page. If you love this site — or hate it for that matter — sign up HERE for my weekly newsletter in order not to miss a thing!