I mentioned in my last post that I recently watched Slumdog Millionaire…again, great movie, must watch. The issue with the gagging was minor. I watched the movie in total amazement of the strength and courage of this boy. As I watched the movie, my middle son Peanut came in to watch it with me. Jelly and dad were watching some stupid sci-fi something or other that did not interest him or me. Peanut is my sensitive child and since the beginning of the movie the “poor”ness of this boy bothered me somewhat and I was not sure how it would affect him. This movie has sparked many a conversation in my home over the last week and with that in mind I tell you a little story.
I have a degree in Elementary Education. Even though my career choice right now does not use the degree in any way, I have teaching in my blood. I have tutored children on a private basis for the past 26 years. This is something that I have always enjoyed doing so it is very important to me that I continue.
I tutor math. All sorts of math. I have had high school students that I have tutored in Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Statistics, and Trigonometry. I have had two adults that I have tutored that were/are taking College Math after being out of school for over 20 or 30 years. Now, I am tutoring a 6th grade boy. He is really having a hard time with math.
I won’t get into the logistics of what he knows and doesn’t know but it has occurred to me over the last 5 or 6 weeks that I am having a hard time with this student. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he is a sweetie. The smile that this kid gives me every time I give him encouragement is just heart melting.
It is the financial situation and the attention lacking that is getting to me.
Poor. What is poor? I thought I knew until I watched Slumdog. This made me have a whole NEW prospective on what poor is. We had some really hard times a few years back. My husband was sick and out of work for 3 months with only his short term disability for income coming into the house ($175 per week). Up until 3 years ago, we were a family of 5 living on an annual household income of $37,000. We made ends meet and we recycled and took hand me downs. But we always had a roof over our head and a warm meal in our belly.
I charge $35 per hour for my tutoring. That is a meal for a larger family. I would have thought that this mother would have been put off by the price of my sessions if she could not afford it; instead, she is willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of her son.
This little boy is 1 of 5 children in the house. He has 3 older sisters and 1 younger sister. The living arrangement is all 7 people in a 2 bedroom apartment. Yes, you heard me, and if I were to guestamate the size of the apartment, I would have to say it is about 600 sq ft. That aint too big. Let’s think about the size of your house and imagine your family living in a house that size. I complain about the size of our camp in the summer being as it is very small but there are also only 5 of us and we spend the majority of the time outside.
I am experiencing a catholic guilt that I have not experienced in quite some time. This little boy is sleeping in the same room with 5 sisters. UGH! I remember sharing a room with my brothers but then again they were only infants at the time.
I assign homework to this guy on a regular basis. He has never had the completed work. Every week it is another excuse, “I left it at my dads”, “my sister must have thrown it away”, “I thought it was right here”, “I think that it is in my mom’s car”, or my favorite one, “I was doing it on the bus ride home today and the bus driver took it away from me”.
(side note…his bus driver is my cousin, his mom also drives a school bus, that is how I got the job)
Two weeks ago, I decided to sit with mom and talk about the progress. X is doing great, his multiplication tables are getting much better, his adding and his subtracting is improving so much that he rarely uses his fingers, and his confidence is improving drastically. However, I am concerned about the homework that I give him.
Mom decided to tell me what she thought the problem was…”X is never home, by the time I get him from his bus, and then we get in the car to come home, he has been here for 10 minutes before you show up and he just doesn’t have the time.” And then the next comment floored me…”And truth be told I don’t have time for him either. He is a lot of work and my girls do so much better without my being on them, I just wish he could be the same way.”
My heart sank. This time I spend with him every week is X-time. It is the only time he gets attention. I feel guilty taking mom’s money but I feel more guilty about not continuing as it is the only time this little boy is recognized for being him.
Okay, so as to not upset those readers who hate long blog posts…he he he…yah, right, I will get to my second point.
Getting back to the Slumdog reference. Love, cherish and enjoy the time you spend with your loved ones. You don’t know how long you will have them around. Money doesn’t buy you time or love. I tell my children how much I love and cherish them on a regular basis and CLEAN YOUR BATHROOM.
I needed to go tinkle while tutoring the other night. I purposely avoid using my client’s bathrooms. It is a little quirk I have. But this time I could not go home with a ½ hour ride with out going. I wish I could have. I had all I could do to keep my lunch in my stomach. There was toothpaste all over the sink, used toothpaste I might add, on the faucet, on the spickets and all over the bowl. There was urine and feces all over the toilet. I mean like dripping down the sides and stuff, ICK! And there were plenty of feminine products flowing out of the trash.
I know poor, I also know filth. Being poor does not automatically come with being dirty. Even Slumdogs mother had him shower.