One of the regular families came back to the literacy center tonight, so I got to see Mutai again. He's 7, and just started second grade, but he's the biggest 7-year old anyone's ever seen: he's pushing five feet tall, and is apparently the same height as his new teacher. I like working with him: he's got that bouncy, scattered boy-energy that I enjoy having to work with. (Almost all the kids I've spent time with are girls. My girlfriend's son is a very bright geek and doesn't [yet] have the fidgeting inability to focus that makes boys so challenging.) He has four sisters and I think his dad works a lot, so he enjoys having an adult male around to work with him.

The two really exciting things this time:

  1. I was right when I noticed him lowering his face to the page and saying he couldn't read something because it was too small: he's getting glasses this month.
  2. He got this "built a ringing bell" science kit that he's been wanting to do with me, and we finally met up tonight. He's totally excited about it, and read many pages of instructions printed in a horrible hard-to-read tiny font, and followed the directions incredibly well.
His mom is still adjusting to him, I think; being a guy, and not his parent, and only dealing with him a couple hours a week, and not having four other kids, I can give him a substantial amount of focus and patience, and as part of my general approach to kids, I don't have any ideas about what he should want or how he should be (beyond the basics of courtesy, which he's fine with). When we started working on the instructions, Mutai was reading while standing up at the table, and his mom said, "Why don't you sit down?". Which he did, but I smiled and said, "I think he's actually okay standing up", which he was: it gave him a way to shift his weight around and feel more active while we were working, and he was happier that way. (He already has to sit down in class all the time; how much can we ask the poor kid to take?) So I have these intuitions about what might be useful, and there's the matter of communicating those to his mother and putting them into practice. She's great, but she's slightly younger than me and has five kids, and there's only so much you can keep track of when you're focused on actually running the family.

As much as this beats working, I have a meeting tomorrow about some contract work: nothing I'm especially good at, but they don't seem to care and I have lots of free time, so why not? Sign of the times: we connected via Twitter postings. The weird part: they wanted me to come in, without telling me what the work was, and they still haven't seen my resume, nor do they have any indication that I'm not going to show up naked and asking them to sell me their women. Then again, maybe I'm just a warm body and they're going to eat me. If I go missing for a week, I went to Xtracycle in Emeryville.

WorldTeach has received and processed all my paperwork and initial fee, and my participation is now confirmed. We are good to go.