“We Think She Might Be Intelligent!”

I didn’t post the latest in my adventures with kindergartner Shayla.  Dick, the man who is in charge of the Columbus Reads program, told me privately that several tutors have come to him and said, “If I have to work with Shayla, I’m quitting the program!”  Apparently, I’m in their good graces for longevity, if nothing else.

She and I had a hard time getting started on Thursday.  We have our own table in the hallway, because it minimizes the distractions that come with 20-odd tutoring sessions all going at once.  Staying on task is an issue both for Shayla and me, so it’s a godsend that we’re able to be out in the hall.  She was pretty sullen and uncooperative when her teacher brought her from the kindergarten room–she balked at helping us move chairs to our table.  But, after a few minutes, she opened up and became more receptive and friendly.  I think what she craves most is consistency, and she’s beginning to understand that I want to be with her for the long haul.

This week we read Papa’s Spaghetti.  It’s one of those stories where one thing builds on another, like the song “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” or “The Green Grass Grows All Around.”  She perked up when we were talking about food, especially since Thanksgiving has just come and gone.  I mentioned to her that I might be making dinner that night (since Steph had choir practice), and she was shocked, “You mean you don’t have a wife?”

I told her yes, I do, and I showed her my wedding ring.  She pointed to the ring and then to my watch.  “Jewelry!” she said, clapping her hands.

She asked me at one point, “Where’s your book?”  I pointed to the books in her reading folder.  “No!  No!” she said, quite visibly frustrated.  She put her hands in the air and pantomimed flipping a page over.  I knew then that she meant my notepad.

“It’s here,” I said, pulling it out of my pants pocket.  “See?”

She wanted it, but I wouldn’t let her have it, because too many phone numbers, Websites, etc., are jotted in it.  “But I took the pencil and wrote on one page, in printed letters, “Bring Shayla a notebook next week!!”

Her moods can go all over the map in a matter of seconds.  When the session was over, she walked back to her classroom holding my hand, but then she got rather bossy and unpleasant when I had forgotten to bring the little Xeroxed storybooks each child gets to keep after the session.

As I was leaving, her kindergarten teacher took me aside and said, “You’ve been doing a good job with her.  You know, we think she might be intelligent.”  I was thinking, Well, duh!, but instead I showed some very out-of-character restraint and diplomacy.  “I have no doubt of it,” I told the teacher.

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