I’ve Returned to the Second Grade

Yesterday, with Lil’B was not one of the more exciting outings I’ve had, but it was still good.  I mentioned that last week his mother  had asked that I help him with some of his school work that she couldn’t really help him with.  I was happy to do so and it actually  worked out kind of well, because I didn’t have a lot of money to spend this week.

I picked Lil’B up at 12:00 and we went to pick up a take ‘n bake pizza.  I asked him what kind of toppings he liked and he said  pepperoni.  (Good start.  I’m kinda finicky about my pizza toppings and I like pepperoni.)  I asked him if he liked anything else on his  pizza and he thought for a minute before telling me that he only liked pepperoni.  I like extra cheese, pepperoni and black olives.  I also like Hawaiian pizza but that’s not relevant to this story.  I asked him if he liked black olives and he said, “What are those?”

We went to the pizza place, which happens to be inside of a mom and pop (actually, I’m fairly certain this one is pop and pop) video  store.  I put in the order and got half with black olives and half just pepperoni and while we waited for them to make the pizza we did our usual dance where Lil’B wanders around in no discernible pattern and I follow him to see what he finds.  He headed toward the  “Sci Fi” section of the store, and I put that in quotes because some of those movies seemed more like horror to me, and as far as I’m  concerned Horror is not Sci Fi.  First he was attracted to the Star Wars DVD covers.  He picked up Episode IV (the first one) and I  asked him if he’d ever seen it.  He said he had not and then I looked at the back cover only to realize that the movie came out only  two short years after I was born.  Then he picked up Episode I and he told me had seen this one.  When he asked me how old that one  was I turned it over and saw that it came out in 2000 (IMDB says 1999, I’m not sure what the discrepancy is.)  I told him, “This one  came out in 2000.  Before you were born!  And I’m getting older by the second!”

He perused some more titles, grabbing the cases and ooing and ahing in typical seven year old fashion, showing great cinematic  discretion as his level of excitement increased in direct proportion to the gruesomeness of the cover photo.  When he picked up one  (the title immediately forgotten) with a giant picture of a snake on it, I turned away.  “Ooo.  This one looks cool!” he said.  “Yeah?” I asked, still not looking.

“It’s got a snake on it,” he told me excitedly.  I’ve told him I do not like snakes.

“I know,” I said steadily, “that’s why I’m not looking.”  And wouldn’t you know that’s when they called my name and announced that  my pizza was ready.  Bummer!

I took Lil’B back to my house, where I baked the pizza while cleaning up my kitchen.  For a few minutes Lil’B just stood in the kitchen  watching me, still wearing his jacket and backpack.  I told him to make himself comfortable and he loosened up a little bit.  Still  wearing his jacket and backpack he began counting.  He counted my light fixtures.  He counted my windows.  He counted my cupboards.  Then he noticed the superman dry erase board on the side of my refrigerator and thought that was pretty cool.  I asked him, “What else do you see on that side of the refrigerator?”

“Cat,” he said.

“Cat?” I asked.  “There’s a cat on the side of my refrigerator?”  He pulled a magnet with a picture of a cat just like Mischa off the side  panel and showed it to me before putting it back.  “Sure enough.  There’s a cat on the side of my refrigerator.  What else do you see?” I asked him.

“I don’t know,” he told me, as he so often does.  It’s all one word that I’m not sure how to type.  Something along the lines of  “iontknow”

“You don’t know?” I asked him again.  “There’s something else over there,” I told him.  There’s actually a few somethings else over there, but I was looking for one thing in particular.

“Kevin Riggs,” he read aloud.  “Oh!  My picture!” he said with great pride.

On our very first meeting, we wrapped up our play time by drawing pictures for each other.  He had written my name on the paper.   When I got home I put the pictures he drew for me up on my refrigerator.  I knew he’d come over sooner or later and when he did I wanted him to see that I appreciated his gift.

The pizza was ready and I took it out of the oven.  I have marble counter tops, which I love because I could put the pizza down right  on the counter without worry.  I let it cool for a minute while filling a couple of cups with ice for beverages.  The cups are from The Rainforest Café and they have flashing lights in the bottom of them.  I surreptitiously pushed the button and the lights started  flashing and he was absolutely dazzled, thought it was the coolest thing ever!

The kids at the pizza place over shot “half” by a little bit so some of the slices on Lil’B’s side of the pizza had olives on them.  I told him this and said, “Give it a try.  If you don’t like them you can pick them off.”

“They look like wheels!” he told me.  He thought that was pretty great.

Since I don’t have a table I had to improvise and then I remembered when I was a kid, sometimes my mother would spread out a  blanket on the living room floor and we’d have a “picnic” right there in the house.  I have a tray with legs like you’d use in bed that I  set up on the blanket so he’d have a steady and somewhat elevated place to work from and we sat down to eat while I looked over his  assignments.

Man it’s been a long time since I was in the second grade.  I found a lot of the work to be tedious and I was surprised to see how long it  ook us to go through it, about two and half hours that felt like five.  But I knew that it was right on the level it needed to be for him  and he did a good job with it.  Some of the instructions on the pages weren’t very clear, which is a bad thing, but other than that we  got through it just fine.

On Saturday, Michelle and I made a quick trip to Target and I looked at the toys and games.  I wanted to have something for him/us to do if and when his school work was finished.  I found Monopoly Junior for only $10.99 and decided that it fit the bill.  When we went back to Michelle’s apartment, I made her play a couple rounds, while my clothes were in the wash, so that I was sure I knew  how to play with Lil’B.  I found the game very – almost too – simplistic, designed in such a way that the games are pretty short; however, I guess that’s ideal for a five to eight year old as the box said.

After all the schoolwork we could do was completed, I put his papers back in his backpack and we set up the game.  I wasn’t sure how it would go over, but he thought it was “Aaawwesoooome!” so I guess that’s good!  We got three games in before I had to take him  home.  I wasn’t sure how he would react to losing, (I know I was a pretty sore loser at his age) but he took in stride.  I’m sure it helped that of the three games we played, he won the first two.

It was a nice change of pace from our usual outings, which, while I want to show him new things and have fun doing things he might  not otherwise get to do, I also want to do more normal, down to earth things with him.  My only concern is I don’t want to have our relationship relegated to being his tutor.  I’ll have to keep a close eye on this and make sure that doesn’t happen.

I was supposed to have a phone check-in with Hadley, the Match Support Specialist, today, but she didn’t answer the phone when I called and her office hours are officially over for the day.  We’ll see when she calls me back.  I’m hoping she can give me some input about it.

I decided that I had been spending too much money on dry cleaning, just to have at least three shirts come back every time with  broken buttons, all because I hate to iron, so I broke down and bought an iron and ironing board last week-end.  After I dropped Lil’B  off I went back home and spent three hours ironing twelve shirts and three pairs of pants.  When I finally stopped (with twenty more shirts to go) my legs were kind of twitchy from standing on them on my hard floors for a few hours.

I sat down in my recliner for a little while to give Mischa so much demanded—er, deserved attention and watch one of my favorite TV  hows, Brothers and Sisters.  My legs were a little sore and my muscles were twitching a little but I put the foot rest up and  relaxed.  No big deal.

My DVR’d recording of Brothers and Sisters ended just in time for me to see the weather report and the description of the massive  storm headed for the Bay Area.  I take these reports with a grain of salt because anything more than a light drizzle is so uncommon  along the California coast line and the weather reporters are so unreliable that it should be called a “Weather Guess” instead of a  Weather Report.

The graphic swirled with colors and three dimensional rain drops and lightning bolts and the weather woman mentioned high winds  and it all evoked images of The Day After Tomorrow and I wondered if I should plan my root to the main library branch (or build an  arc).  And then in a moment of random thought I said to Mischa (‘cause he pays attention) “Looks like earthquake weather.”  For those uninitiated, there is no such thing as “earthquake weather”.  I turned the TV off, checked the locks and headed toward the back  of my apartment for my bedtime rituals. When I went to bed at 11:45 my lower extremities were much relieved to be horizontal.

In the “unnecessary details” department, I have sham pillows on my bed that I don’t have anywhere to put when I’m actually in the  bed so they sit leaning on the headboard which reduces the amount of space for me to sleep in.  This is generally not a problem but I  hadn’t realized I was lower on the mattress than normal.  I was lying on my stomach and had my left leg extended straight down with my foot pressed up against the foot board.  I was just dozing off at about 12:05 AM when I heard a loud popping/creaking sound and felt my bed shake.  I was wide awake after that, certain there had just been an earthquake.

I grabbed my trusty iPhone and pulled up the USGS website with the recent earthquakes maps to see what magnitude the quake had  been and there was nothing for the Bay area.  I waited a couple minutes and refreshed the page to see.  Still nothing.  I waited a few minutes more and checked again, with the same result.

That’s when it dawned on me that with my foot pressed against the foot board, I must have had a muscle spasm in my leg and shaken  the bed.  And shaken myself…awake.  I turned on my side, pulled my knees up a little closer to my chest and was out like a light.

In other news:

It’s Monday again.  A Monday that should be a holiday but apparently my company hates Christopher Columbus.  I’m not sure if  BART was running a holiday schedule today or what, but the garage was very full when I arrived this morning.

The weather has turned and it’s very cold.  Of course in the Bay area cold is 63 degrees with cloudy skies, so I expect little to no  sympathy from my readers in the great white north today, but it’s still cold to me!  Monday’s are the worst in my office after a cold  week-end ‘cause the heater hasn’t been on since Saturday afternoon and it takes a long time to get warm.  My hands have been like  blocks of ice most of the day and I literally just took my coat off for the first time today, just so I can put it back on to go home in about forty-five minutes.

My iPhone Genius play list seems to be racist.  The last two play lists have been all African American artists (both based on Jennifer  Hudson songs) unless you don’t consider Maria Carey to be black.  How “genius” can you be if you’re racist, I ask you?!?