I laughed at a child tonight. And then I was promptly shushed by the librarian. I should feel guilty about this, but the four year old had no idea I was laughing at him. I'm certain his mother heard me. My startled chortle cut through the silence of the library like a wet fart in the middle of church. Her head snapped around, dark eyes searching my face to confirm that I was laughing at her son. I quickly covered my mouth, and sheepishly grinned and pretended to focus back on the textbooks in front of me. Half convinced by my wan smile, she reached down for her son's hand, which he promptly yanked away, continuing to refuse to walk with her. "Atticus! I'm not going to say it again, we need to get going! Atticus, I'm serious." I tightly tucked my top lip in, biting it hard to keep my mocking laughter from sneaking out. Sitting at the busiest suburban hipster library in town, I've met my first Atticus.
What more appropriate place to meet an Atticus? This lovely mother, in her cuffed jeans, horn rimmed glasses and messenger bag with a bird on it, loves To Kill a Mockingbird so much that she saddled her adorable son with the name Atticus. I kind of love it. I don't think I could do it, but I somehow love and loathe the idea of it. Yes, I'm being judgemental and yes, I laughed at a defiant little boy whose parents named him after the kindest, most ethical, single father/small town Southern lawyer in the one book that most of America has read. Who wouldn't want their child to grow up to look like Gregory Peck and act like Atticus Finch? And I had the nerve to laugh. I will probably name my children basic names like Mary or Ann and then they'll change them at age 18 and want to be called Sunshower or Lark or Gandalf.
At least I assuaged my guilt by meeting with my newest literacy student right after this hideous bout of condescending snorting. Thankfully my new student arrived after this little scene, it might not have been the best first impression. Anyway, last winter I signed up and took the training classes to volunteer as an adult literacy tutor. I'm volunteering with Literacy Kansas City, and after several unsuccessful attempts last year working with about four different students, all who either moved away, changed work schedules, quit the program or just stopped showing up, I got a little frustrated and took a break. I was busy last fall and winter working on my fundraising certificate so I took a few months off.
But I got a great call from the volunteer manager recently and she had a new student for me if I was open to it. I'm working as a team tutor, so I meet with our student once a week for a couple of hours and the other tutor meets with him once a week too. After meeting my student for the first time tonight, I'm really excited to work with him. He's young and motivated and already has a great base of knowledge to build on. Like I told him tonight, he's the student with the strongest skills that I've worked with so far. Already enrolled in some college classes and anxious to improve his writing and grammar skills, I think this is going to be a great match. I just hope I'm a good enough tutor to help him in the next few months. And did I mention that his notebook was covered with the sharp, dark little anime characters that he draws? I think I'm going to like working with this guy. And I promise, no rude laughing. I promise, seriously.