Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Pledge To The Forsythes, My Shenanigans With 5th-Graders, And Why One Kid I Know Wants To Be In The Army

Well, looks like I've been gone so long, they decided to merge my blogger account with my gmail account just so the account doesn't get dusty LOL. Seriously though, the problem, I think, is that I'm getting all this stuff to actually *do*, and that makes it hard to sit down and write about what I'm doing. I certainly lacked that excuse today, though, and so I here I am on a Sunday evening, making it up as I go.

For a while, I doubted anyone actually comes here anymore, but when I visited Matt and Gretchen Forsythe, they told me that they had looked up my blog to see if I'd written anything about the Christmas dinner I had with them at Gretchen's dad's house last year. I hadn't! What a rotter I was. For penance, I now pledge to blog some reference to Matt OR Gretchen at least once a month for the rest of the life of my memory of this pledge.

So what *have* I been up to? Well as it turns out I'm finally the last real programmer who's at my place of work everyday. All the others left for greener pastures. That's kinda depressing, except I'm not really even employed there, just contracted out to the place by my boss. It's kinda odd to have all the responsibility of keeping the old products afloat and running, and working on some fairly important new software besides, all for a company that doesn't even employ me. I think that's their preferred business model, though. Oh well! As long as they pay, I'm good with that.

I started tutoring at Dogwood elementary a few months ago with an old friend from Fellowship Church, Mark Hughs. We were in Matt Forsythe's small group together. That's TWO Matt Forsythe references in one blog by the way, so I just finished my quota for two months! That's right, it's an accumulative tally. Anyway, I started tutoring 5th grade math (*everyone who knew my math skills in secondary stifles a laugh*) at Dogwood Elementary, and so far it's been a lot of fun. Me and Mark got to hear about the tutoring opportunity one evening at All Souls Church downtown. The kids we work with come from lower-income families, I think. As least that's what I remember the lady at All Souls saying.

The kids are actually pretty smart. They mostly have the same problem I did in school: they just couldn't be bothered. When they do put they're minds to a problem, they usually get through it pretty quick. A lot of times, however, they simply aren't trying. The presence of a personal tutor sitting with them and going through the problems that gives them a little incentive to work at it.

I tutor the kids on Thursday afternoon, right before th lunch break, and so I usually wind up sitting with them during lunch and yucking it up. I really get a better sense of where these kids are coming from during these times... they talk about their interests, the stuff they see on tv, and the things they want to be when they grow up. They're a lot different from me in my childhood, that's for sure.

Maybe the most surprising thing was this one kid, Nathan, that made up his mind five years ago that he wanted to be in the army. He's in 5th grade! I could never make up my mind about anything when I was his age. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was in kindergarten, then an architect, then a comicbook artist, then a rockstar. I sure didn't hold on to one ambition for five years. I asked him what he wanted to be in the army for, and he said "I want to kill people who want to hurt my country!" My jaw dropped. I asked him if he knew killing people was serious business, and that it's not good to kill people. He says, "Well they shouldn't be trying to hurt my country!"

I couldn't argue with that, really. That's about as fundamental an argument for defensive warfare as you're ever gonna get, and it doesn't matter what page in the history books you're looking at. It just boils down to whether you agree with that premise or not. I'm not pretending that Nathan has really turned over all these things in his head (more likely he just likes the idea of shooting people dead... c'mon, how many young men don't at least fantasize about it?), but I hope he eventually does think things through, and that whatever he decides to do with his life, he does so with a clear mind.

The other kids are a hoot, too. Maybe I'll get round to talking about them someday.