March 31, 2011

There’s this little hyperactive kid in my mom’s second grade class who I love to death. He’s one of those kids who just genuinely has so much energy he often, literally,  cannot control himself. He is forever moving, in one way or another, and has trouble concentrating. I feel for him. Probably because he outwardly manifests what goes on inside my brain a great deal of the time. Plus, I just have a soft spot for the kids who are considered more “difficult”.

Anyways, today I was at the school and he walked up to me, pointed in my face and said, “JINX!” I said, “Hey! Wait a minute! We didn’t even say the same word at the same time. You just walked up to me!” He shrugged, and agreed. He said, “Ok. When I count to three say ‘go’! One, two, three, GO!” I humored him and shouted go at the same time he did. He excitedly shouted, “JINX! You owe me a rootbeer!”

Hmmm. It used to be Coke when I was his age.


I got your back kid.

February 3, 2011

I was driving away from Logan’s Steakhouse with a backseat full of kids and Terrance in the front, after a “go well to Africa” lunch with his family, when the little dude proudly said it, “Ryan said he’d take anybody out who ever tries to mess with us or hurt us.” Well, wasn’t that a gangsta’ thing for me to have said! At first I had no frame of reference and wondered when this kid might have dreamed up me saying those menacing words. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about at first, but none the less, at the very least, the latter part of the statement is true, so I just nodded my head and said, “That’s right!” I looked at Terrance to see if he thought I was gangsta’, well, and also to see if he wondered what the hell I had been telling his nephews.

And then I remembered, and knew exactly what the kid was talking about.

The little dude is Mike Mike, Terrance’s 8-year-old nephew. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with him, and the rest of Terrance’s family, on my recent visits to Nashville. They’ve kind of taken me in as “that dude who sleeps on our couch”. I’ve grown to love them dearly. So dearly, I suppose, I am making hypothetical threats, to hypothetical bad guys. Like, anybody who wants to get to them’s gotta get through me first! But I guess it didn’t really happen that “on the nose”, so let me explain.

A few weekends ago on a Nashville visit, Terrance and I got in late one night. Earlier in that day I had shown the slightest bit of interest in a video game the boys had been playing, and so when we came in that night the nephews and a friend were playing and offered to let me play with them. I decided to take them up on their offer, and Terrance went to bed. Game on! It was one of those shoot ’em up games, and they were playing multiple players, where you try to find each other and, well, shoot! I was terrible. And they loved it!

I went on like a geezer about how “back in my day the controllers only had two buttons”, and these modern-day controllers have a few hundred, at least! I couldn’t work the stupid thing. I would finally get the guy to run and, gradually as he ran, he would begin looking up at the sky, pointing the gun straight up in the air. This happened often. I never got the knack of aiming, or pretty much anything for that matter, and so when I would sense someone was near I would spin in circles and hold the trigger down. My little man would spin, and bullets would fly. That rarely worked, if ever. I died, often. And lost, every time. But they seemed to thoroughly enjoy taking turns beating me. So, I enjoyed that.

As we played we talked about all sorts of things: South Africa, life there, the kids I worked with, crime, and what not. I told them some stories about different exciting times. All in all, it was a fun night. It became a joke that I would challenge them to a rematch, revenge if you will, the next weekend. And, what do you know, one late night last weekend that moment came. Rematch! And I was worse than ever before. It was to the point of embarrassment, really. But I finally hung up my controller and just chatted to them as they played.

They started talking about how scary it would be to actually be one of those little men running around with a gun, with people after you, trying to kill you. They asked if I would want to do that, or if I would be scared. I told I ideally would not ever want to be in that position, and that I’d definitely never fight for the army, and I don’t believe in guns or killing, so it would have to be a very worthy cause for me to pick up a gun and run around trying to kill people. “Like what?” they asked. I thought for a moment. “Well, like if someone tried to hurt or come after someone I loved or cared about. Like if someone was after you guys or something, I’d try and take them out. But I think violence is rarely the answer.”

I guess, looking back, I could see it in Mike Mike’s eyes when I said that. He looked at me for a moment with sparkly eyes, which, at the time, I am sure I thought had more to do with my noble pacifist stance and final closing statement, than me saying I’d take someone out. But driving in the car I realized that Mike Mike had heard me, and he heard me right, if anyone tried to hurt them, I’d probably be quick to jump into action. And when he proudly, and randomly, stated in the car, after a peaceful Sunday lunch, I realized something that I’ve realized before: every kid likes to know there are people out there who’ve “got their backs”. Nice reminder.

Conversations With a Four-Year-Old…

September 9, 2010

I realise I should not expect stimulating and profound conversation from a four-year-old. I mean, four is not many years to have lived on this earth and therefore acquired knowledge, and vocabulary to express what little knowledge they have attained, is minimal. I get it. But today, when I took out my friend’s four-year-old girl Caitlin for the day, I realised just how random conversations with a four-year-old can be.

They don’t really follow any specific train of thought, or even the conversation itself for that matter; they just kind of say the first thing that pops in their heads, usually thoughts inspired by some random key word in a sentence, but not necessarily a word that relates in any way what-so-ever to the topic of the conversation. Take this conversation between Caitlin and I as we drove to town:

Caitlin, “Whose birthday is it?”

Me, “Sherilyn’s is tomorrow.”

Caitlin, “I know but whose birthday is it today?”

Me, “Um, no one I know.”

Caitlin, “But it’s someone’s birthday today.”

Me, “Yes indeed. Just no one I know.”

Caitlin, “Then we need to look for the good little boys and girls and tell them it’s their birthday.”

Me, “That’s not really how a birthday works. It’s the day you are born on.”

Not totally convinced Caitlin, “We need to check it out.”

Me, “Check what out?”

Caitlin, “Whose birthday it is. We need to check it out.”

Me, “How?”

Caitlin, “We need to check it out.”

Me, “But how do you plan on checking it out?”

Caitlin, kind of singing as she speaks, “By making a list.”

Me, “Um?”

Caitlin, “And checking it twice. And then we find out who’s naughty or nice. And then we will know whose birthday it is.”

Me, “That’s Christmas.”

A song I like comes on the radio and I turn it up, only to find out it is an advert.

Me, “I hate it when they use a song like that.”

Caitlin, “What did they do?”

Me, “They played a song I like and I thought it was playing but it was only an advert.”

Caitlin, “What’s and adfart?”

Me, “Like, when you are watching tv…the things that come on to tell you to buy stuff.”

Caitlin, “Baby, Baby comes on the tv.”

Me, “Um, yep. Sometimes it does.”

Caitlin singing, “Baby, baby, baby oooooooh! I thought you’d be mine!”

I just nod my head to her song.

Caitlin, “Justin Bieber makes great music and he comes on the tv and the radio and he’s hot!” 

Me, “If you say so.”

An “I Like You” from a kid is priceless.

July 26, 2010

Today at school, right before I had to teach, I was out on the playground talking to the preprimary teacher. She always has her kids out there in the period before my first class. We were chatting, and totally out of the blue, this adorable little preprimary kid (probably between four and five, which I guess would make him “four and a half” in their language”) ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug around the waist. He after quite a long squeeze he looked up with the biggest smile you could imagine and said, “I like you!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the warm gesture and cuteness, “Thanks! I like you too.”

“Your tattoos are beautiful!” he said with all the sincerity in the world.

“Well, thank you again.”

He then went in for another squeeze, looked back up and smiled, and then ran off to the slide. Little kids are great. They haven’t built up all those walls we put up, and they speak honestly and genuinely in most every situation; sometimes things we don’t want to hear, sometimes things that make our day. They are great. If you get a chance, hug a kid today. And tell him you think he’s cool.

Incognito on Facebook…

July 20, 2010

Most of you know I teach grade 6 Life Orientation at a school in Woodstock on Mondays. And I seem to leave every Monday with a funny story or two from interactions with the kids there. So yesterday, the glorious day that it was, I was sitting outside, soaking up the sun before I had to go into the cold, dark classroom and teach. And I was, yes admittedly, on Facebook on my phone. One of the grade seven kids, who had been sent by his teacher to run an errand, came up to me.

His name is Jacob Ngouabi (for the purpose of this blog) and, though he has lived in South Africa his entire life, his mother and father are from Congo. He was in my class last year. A real sweet kid.

So, Jacob waltzed up to me and sat right down on the playground bench, scooting as close to me as possible, looking at my cellphone screen, “You’re on Facebook?!”

I laughed, “Isn’t everybody? Are you?”

He got excited, “Yeah! Search me and add me as a friend!”

I’m not sure how I feel about adding the students of the school, but I humored him, hypothetically, “Ok, do I just search Jacob?”

“No. Roger.”



“Okay? Roger what?”

“Roger Shaw.”

“Roger Shaw?!”

“Do you use someone else’s account or something?”

“Nope, it’s mine.”

“Why Roger Shaw?”

“I’m not going to use my real name on there!!!”

“Good idea. But where did you get that name?”

“Out of my brain.”


“I bet there are a lot of Roger Shaws though.”

“Yeah. But mine is the one with picture of Batista.” (A WWE wrestler for those that don’t know)

“Ah! Of course. That makes perfect sense.”