Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tutoring Helps Your Sanity

Work was aggravating on Tuesday. A lot.

Tuesday night I didn't have time even to change out of my suit when I got home. Just long enough to collect a couple of Monkeyboy's leftover chicken nuggets, kiss him and RFB hello, rifle through the mail, kiss them goodbye, and race off to a Religious School and Youth Committee meeting.

Where we proceeded to spend two hours and change to conduct forty-five minutes worth of business.

(I made it home in time to read to Monkeyboy --- we're halfway through a pretty good Star Wars: Rogue Squadron novel --- so I guess that's something.)

Wednesday, work was aggravating. A wee bit less than Tuesday, but the diminished aggravation was offset by a comparable amount of trepidation and butterflies, because I had to make a presentation at an important noon-time meeting.

I did ok. Again, two hours to transact maybe an hour's worth of real business, but what're ya gonna do? Stumbled through the rest of the day being only mildly productive, but thoroughly grumpy and out of sorts.

Wednesday night was great.

I tutor on Wednesday nights, usually helping kids with Bar or Bat Mitzvahs in the spring who need some extra help to be ready on the prayers they're supposed to lead.

As often happens, the kids made my week. The three 7th graders I met with were uniformly attentive and were really trying to make our time together worthwhile. If they're seeing me, they've usually goofed off along the way and need some quick remediation, or I'm doing an assessment of whether they fit into that category.

Picture being a 7th grader, chock full of energy and hormones, and having to go to two hours of religious school on Wednesday night and two more on Sunday morning, on top of your full school week. It's a wonder they don't tear the roof off the joint on a regular basis.

Instead, my time with each of these three kids renewed and re-invigorated me. (I'm pretty sure it helped them, too.)

And then I met my fourth kid of the night.

Having had almost no religious school exposure whatsoever, this 6th grader, after attending a couple of cousins' Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, decided that was a rite he'd like to celebrate as well.

He asked his parents.

This is the exact opposite of the traditional pattern, where parents have to sort of cajole, demand and physically schlepp their kids off to religious school once they hit pre-adolescence, and on through Bar/Bat Mitzvah in 7th grade and Confirmation in 10th.

This kid, warned that he was starting from scratch, and that he'd have to do a lot of extra catch-up work, and that his bar mitzvah would still probably have to be a year or so late, said, in effect, "Bring it on!"

He's learning a whole new alphabet, and a language written from right to left, where the vowel sounds appear underneath the letters.

And a set of tunes his peers have been learning since 1st or 2nd grade.

At a time in his life when regular schoolwork is getting harder and more plentiful.

Kinda put my own gripes and grumbles in perspective.

Every one one of the 4 kids I met with last night said thank you. Good for them; they're growing up to be mensches.

From me, each got a hearty Todah Rabah. Which I think they know, and if they don't they can look up, means Thank You Very Much.


Tara said...

Can you tell me the purpose of long meetings? What is so important to talk about that can't be typed out via email so that we don't have to get distracted by that instead of our work? I'd rather file than go to a lame meeting.

I like the fact that the kids thanked you.

mielikki said...

thats wonderful that the kids turned out to be so refreshing. I have come to the conclusion that I actually enjoy most kids out there, lately.
I hope the 4th one does really well, it's commendable of him to want this for himself.

laura b. said...

It is great to be able to find those worthwhile moments stuck in the middle of the rest of the junk.

sybil law said...

Awww, that makes me all verklempt!
That was my lame attempt at saying something in the spirit of the story.:)
But seriously - that's awesome! I went to many bar/ bat mitzvahs back in junior high. The language is indeed rough!
You rock!

Anonymous said...

Which "Rogue" book..that was a good series?

This is something I have heard about a bit and never quite understood in regards to the Jewish faith. Kids have to do meetings and learn songs and reading before they cross into "adulthood"? Am I at least on the right track? I never knew so much went into this tradition.

Churlita said...

What great kids. Isn't it nice to know that kids still grow up with manners and goals?

David in DC said...

Tara: The purpose of long meetings is to provide gripe fodder for blogs. Dunno why they held them in pre-internet days.

I liked the fact that the kids thanked me, too. They're two and three years older than Monkeyboy, and he's at an age where seeing that behavior in peers and big kids is probably at least as influential as parental behavior modeling is at this point.

Meilikki: agreed, on all counts.

Laura: Yes it is. Like I said, it contributes mightily to maintaining a semblance of sanity.

Sybil: It's o.k., while you're verklempt, we'll talk amonst ourselves.

I used to love that sketch. I read Mike Myers modelled the character on his mother in law and even used her real name --- Linda Richmond.

e-e: The Rogue Squadron books are nowhere near as good as the ones by Timothy Hahn, or Barbara Hambly, or a few of the other Star Wars book writers, but they doesn't suck and Monkeyboy likes 'em.

Books 1 through 4 are by one author, who did a pretty good job of integrating the books with the storylines in the Rogue Squadron comic books, by Darkhorse Comics.

Decent story arc, but his prose is pretty leaden.

Books 5 through 8 are by a writer with a much defter touch, and a lot more humor.

We're on Book 9 now, ("Isard's Revenge") and back to the initial author. I've read quite enough about space battles.

"Wedge locked his X-wings in attack poistion, pushed the etheric rudder to tip up onto one S-foil and juked up and down to evade the squint's laser shots while he waited for the aiming reticle on his last proton torpedo to switch from yellow to red," can only be written so many different ways, and I'm pretty sure, in nine books, we've covered all of them.

I cover your other question in my next post.

David in DC said...

Churl: It's great when they are. It's not a universal phenomenon.

Bubblewench said...

Glad to hear the kids gave you a little happy boost. Sounds like you needed it.