Monday, October 17, 2005

Earnest Boy

I haven't yet spoken about the after-school children who come in towards the end of my day. They aren't with me for very long, they do their homework, eat their snack, they go home. Many days they have an after-school sport or activity, and they don't come here at all. They're rather peripheral to my focus, all in all. Last year they were two, brothers, French, 8 and 10 years old. This year they have been joined by a third little guy, who is also eight. This boy is soft-spoken, sweet, and very, very earnest. He is completely thrown by my casual teasing and off-the-cuff goofiness. The tots are rolling around on the floor, the eight year olds are doing their homework at the dining table. (The ten year old is at a soccer game.) "I'm going to the bathroom," I tell the homework boys. "If there's an emergency, you guys are in charge." I tap each of them on the head as I pass. French Boy chuckles; he recognizes the silliness. Earnest Boy looks up, alert and eager. "What if someone poops their pants?" "That's not an emergency, sport. I'd deal with it when I get down." I proceed to the stairs. His husky little voice stops me a second time. "What if a parent comes to the door?" "You can tell them I'll be right down." I'm on the bottom stair. I really do need to go. "What if the phone rings?" "Let the machine get it." I'm halfway to my goal, and he's slowing me down! "What if -" "Earnest! I have to go to the bathroom. It's okay. There won't be an emergency." I race upstairs. His voice floats behind me. "Then why did you say -" Click. The bathroom door shuts on his question. The earnest. They have NO sense of humour.

12 Comments:

Blogger LoryKC said...

Well, at least you know he's listening! ; )

10/17/2005 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

I had a similar experience with a little boy but a much younger one... it turned out his parents never "joked" with him so it took a lot longer for him to get the idea of joking. Such a different experience to how I was brought up where learning when someone was joking was part of survival!

10/17/2005 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger CyberKitten said...

Sounds like my house... if you couldn't cope with sarcasm & a quick whit... you were chopped liver.... Nasty........

10/17/2005 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Haley said...

Too funny. At least he was putting some thought into his newfound responsibility. Or at least the responsibility he thought he had...

10/17/2005 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Lory: Indeed. I also know who I'll put in charge if need be - though I suspect he'd need a 20 minute briefing for a 2 minute responsibility! He'd be thorough, though, no doubt about it.

Weirdgirl: This guy's parents have a sense of humour, a rather dry adult humour, but lots of it, so it's not lack of experience. It's either immaturity, and he'll grow into it, or simply an innate humour-impairedness, poor little tyke!

Cyberkitten: Laughter and quick wit, yes; sarcasm, not allowed in my home. When my older two kids were young teens, an age that adores sarcasm, I told them they could indulge in it with their friends, if they wanted, but to keep mean-spirited "humour" out of the house.

Amongst equals who like that sort of thing, it's all right, though not something I enjoy; but an adult to a child? No. The power differential is too great: it's unfair, confusing, and damaging, I think. Just not healthy.

Haley: Yes. His intentions were all great, and his attitude stellar! His comprehension of the realities, D-. Can't win'em all... But he's very sweet!

10/17/2005 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Simon Peter said...

Am I reading this right? He's French and has no sense of humour? Tell me it isn't so! How can that be? French and no sense of humour? Cough. Words fail me! Cough.

10/17/2005 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

No, smarty-pants, you've misread it. There are the two French boys, and then there is Earnest (anglo) Boy. See? "French Boy chuckles; he recognizes the silliness. Earnest Boy looks up, alert and eager."

10/17/2005 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Misfit Hausfrau said...

How funny--I keep catching myself when I am sarcastic with my 2 year old. I keep forgetting that she doesn't get it. Yet. But she will.

10/18/2005 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Simon Peter said...

Well that's even more bizarre then. French and a sense of humour? Now words not only fail me, but they're hiding and refuse to come out!

10/18/2005 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

What a great story. I heard it in person, and now I've just read it, and it's still funny.
Q

10/18/2005 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Hausfrau: Yes, she will get it, after a few years of not. Is this a good thing, or a bad?

Simon: Perhaps French Canadians are a different breed? When in Paris a few years ago, I was struck by how Parisians returned a smile with a completely blank look. Not hostile, just blank. In the north of France, we found them much warmer. All the French Canadians I've met have been warm and friendly folk, prone to laugh. The first people I'd invite to a party, for sure!

Q: You can vouch for my verity. I may play with reality to give it some form - a beginning, middle, and end - but it's all real!

10/18/2005 02:16:00 PM  
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10/29/2005 06:47:00 AM  

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