Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to tutor parents as well as their children. In this case, I get to see the inside of the family dynamic. This allows me to teach all the members of the family better; I know who they are, just a little more.
As one of the only, sometime THE only English-fluent people that comes into their homes, I sometimes am asked strange questions about Canadian culture and customs. Occasionally I am asked to decipher notes from teachers. But today I was asked the strangest thing yet.
Allie is a bright, active 11-year old with a sly sense of humour and a very strong work ethic. Her trouble is that she’s shy. As a shy girl struggling in a new language, she has a tough time making friends. So her mother has asked me to compose an ad to put up at community centers. She wants a grade 7-9 Canadian girl to come to the house and play with Allie, in English, a few times a week. They can go ride bikes, go to movies, play on the Internet, anything. For ten bucks an hour to the lucky girl.
I must give my phone number on the ad, because Allie’s mom’s English is getting better, but is not fantastic. As with most people learning English, telephones are anathema to her: She can’t read body language or watch facial cues. I have to interview this person who, Allie’s mom is hoping, will become a mentor to Allie, and bring her out of herself a bit.
I have issues here. I have issues that Allie’s mom is willing to pay some girl ten bucks an hour to be Allie’s friend. I, in my crazy roundeye way, see this as a bit embarassing for Allie. But Allie’s looking forward to it. Which makes me want to give her a big old hug.