Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Away from the Nest: Writing and Tutoring
Written several hours ago:
I sit on the bus, about to head home for a few days. I originally intended to work on the next chapter of At His Whim. However, I’m listening to fun music, and it doesn’t exactly inspire the suspenseful scenes I have planned. I could, of course, switch to the Kanon Wakeshima station on my Pandora. That would probably set the right mood. But I’m enjoying my Jonas Brothers/One Direction station too much (yes, I listen to Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, and Justin Bieber. Haters begone). So I thought, “Hey, I haven’t blogged in a while. Why don’t I do that?”
Thus, here I am. I must confess, I haven’t watched nearly as much anime lately. I’ve been distracted. The only anime I watched recently was Gungrave. Now, I’d love to write a post on that. I’ve watched it about three times now, and I could definitely rave on about it. However, a post about Gungrave deserves my full attention, something I couldn’t give it right now.
So what is this post about? That is an excellent question. One I’m asking myself right now, actually. Should I even post this rambling? Whatever. I’ll keep writing. I think I’ve thought of more pointed things to say, things about my time living with my aunt and cousins. It’s not anime related, but when did I proclaim this blog to be solely for anime? Never, that’s when.
Anyway, as you may know by now, I’ve been living with my aunt since February and tutoring my cousins. I’ll leave in less than two months to see my family before I go off to college. It’s been quite the experience, living here.
To begin with, it’s my first time leaving home for more than two weeks. Strangely enough, I never got the least bit homesick. In fact, I now feel that my aunt’s house is a second home. Granted, I’ve missed my parents and sister - something that hasn’t happened since I was about eight. But I visit them, and I don’t miss them too much. I suppose it’s a sign that I’m ready to leave the nest... even if it’s just to help out at my aunt’s nest for the time being.
I’ve become closer to my aunt, which is only natural. I love our long chats after the kids go to bed, and I know I’ll miss her when I leave. She’s a hardworking, single mother with a lot on her plate. But she’s also funny, kind, and loving. Aunt contributed her perspectives as I made my final college decision, and then helped multiple times with filling out and faxing relevant documents. We’ve talked aunt to niece, parent to tutor, and single woman to single woman. She’s more than just my aunt; she’s my friend. Getting to know her better has been a delightful bonus to living with her.
Of course, I originally came to tutor the boys, ages twelve and ten. Working with them has been a very rewarding experience. I’ve taught the twelve year old directly from his sixth grade math book, filling in holes as I went. Math accomplishments with him are very tangible - a finished or skipped lesson, a mastered concept, and written problems all show the fruit of his work. I’m also continuing the spelling program with him that Mom tutored him in last summer. He’s retained an encouraging amount of phonograms and spelling rules over the year, and the A on his spelling quiz proves it... even if a diagnostic test still puts him over three years below grade level. Of course, I don’t tell him the exact level he tested at. All he needs to know is that he’s improved since last year.
The ten year old has less to work on, so I work with him for only half the time. Still, our accomplishments feel just as good. He has his multiplication facts down solid in flashcard form, and we’re working to apply that progress on his worksheets, too. Even more notable, and less due to me than him, is his grasp of long division. They just learned that at the end of the school year, and he has it down pat - which is more than I can say for a few of his classmates! He’s eager to keep improving in both math and spelling, and it’s a joy to see his smile when he makes yet another accomplish.
This summer, I’ve also started spending a few minutes with their eight year old sister. She doesn’t really need the help, but it doesn’t hurt to keep fresh over the summer. She has no problem with tutoring, either. In fact, she loves the attention and will happily tell her friends that, like her brothers, she has to come inside for tutoring.
Between the three children, I’m really learning a lot. I’ve never taught anyone between the second and third grades, so it’s interesting to see how the younger children think. The abilities and ages among just my three cousins are varied enough to give me quite the experience. I spend a few weeks in the ten year old’s fourth grade class, too, which gave me more perspective.
Yet I do not intend to change my major to elementary education. Nuh-uh. As much as I like teaching these kids, I’d rather teach high school math. Besides, that’s more fun to study.
In addition to tutoring, I’ve spend several hours a week watching my cousins. I’m often in charge in the mornings, which can be... interesting, to use a euphemism. They’re sweet and sensitive, but they are far from angels.
Lastly, I’ve had to drive a lot more - to the store, to the vet, to hair and doctor appointments, etc. Let’s be clear on something: I do not like driving. It’s not just because of my car accident last fall, either. Further, I need my GPS the first five to ten times I go anywhere further than a block away. Yet I’ve become more and more comfortable, especially on certain routes. Granted, I’m not completely at ease, but the driving experience certainly helps. I’ve been on the freeway, in the suburbs, and even downtown. I’ve driven in pouring rain on a rutted highway with kids in the car. I’ve searched for parking spots and maneuvered confusing streets. And amongst it all, I’ve retained my sanity.
Yes, my sanity is intact. I’ve even kept from getting very anxious, something longer term readers may remember is a problem for me. I’m trying very hard to stay on top of my anxiety, avoid procrastination, and tend to my responsibilities in a timely manner. I’ve stumbled and delayed multiple times, but I’m doing better - probably better than I would if I’d stayed home.
I think I’ve gained a little maturity by living away from home. I’m still young, and there are many areas where my lack of confidence gets in the way. Yet I’ve made another step. And, unlike this time last year, I’m ready to go to college.
Well, I believe it’s time to end this, change my Pandora station, and get started on the next chapter of At His Whim. I’m trying to stay on a weekly posting schedule again. I think this chapter will end up being ten pages long, so if I don’t start it soon, who knows if I’ll finish it by Saturday?