ABC’s in the D

I had signed up to be a tutor every other Saturday last year with a group our church partners with in Detroit. It was WAY out of my comfort zone for one big reason, I have no business tutoring anyone. I was assured that I would be fine, the relationship with the students is really the more important thing, and the learning was hoped for, but secondary. We were supposed to go down and love on these kids.

Last year, I was given a darling little 7 year old girl to tutor named Ja’Shayla. Loving on her was easy, she was precious. Her attendance was spotty, and we learned later in the year that she had moved about 6 times during the October/March tutoring year. I don’t know what to say about that. I have only moved a few more times than that in my whole life. I was thrilled when she was able to come and we worked on learning to tell time and place value and she liked reading aloud to me the story of Balto the sled dog. So much so that when I suggested she save the rest of the book for another session, she said she had to finish it to see what happened!

She always arrived in the second van load of children, so our already small amount of time was even more limited. We talked while she ate her breakfast of juice box and cereal bar. I learned she lived with her mother and two little brothers. On the weekends she spent time with extended family and saw quite a bit of her Grandmother. We talked about pets, hers and mine. She LOVED to play Candyland, and commented more than once that “this is SO fun!”. She didn’t always want to join in the gym games, instead she held my hand and hugged me around the waist. The last time I saw her she shyly said “Bye, Kelly”, and I almost cried that she remembered my name.

All that to say that she did not come back to tutoring this year. I finally saw the coordinator on Saturday and was able to ask him if he knew anything about her family. He said he didn’t, and that her mother was usually good about telling him where they were going. I just pray that they are doing well and maybe she will return.

On to this year. The Girls signed up to go down to ABC’s in the D too. The Ab-Cat got a 4th or 5th grade girl who is pretty regular. She always greets Abby with a big hug and then they start chattering. Abby says she is a smart one and wants to try and do things by herself first. The little girl likes to play with Abby’s hair. She confided in Abby this week that the kids at school tease her and say mean things. Things like she is ugly, and she has bedbugs. Abby was able to share that she had been made fun of in school too, but don’t let other kids tell you who you are.

Mousey’s girl is about the same age, is also very sweet, but a little less regular. There is a rumor that she may have moved. It seems to be a constant thing in their lives.

The first child I was assigned was a 4th grade boy who never showed up. Then I was given another 4th grade boy who has been pretty regular. I share him with a partner who met him before I did. This was what he e-mailed after their first meeting; “He is a slight challenge in that he wants to do things his way, but if you’re firm with him he falls in line.” I e-mailed him that after last Saturday, the tutor and the tutee were BOTH unhappy campers.

Well, that was an understatement! He doesn’t want to talk at ALL, he is not interested in learning anything, he only wants to go to the gym and shoot baskets, he gives up and pushes everything across the table at the first sign of difficulty, he spends an inordinate amount of time complaining and asking if he can’t do something else. The only thing I know about him is he lives with his mom and his sister. The only reason I know that is because he was bothering a girl at our table and when I told him to stop he informed me that she was his sister.

I am discouraged. I don’t seem to be able to relate to him on any level. I am praying for some common ground. Maybe we are just going to have to endure each other for the rest of the year, but I hope not. I don’t want this to be unpleasant for him, I don’t want to be the cause of his inward or outward groaning when he sees me. I am praying that God causes some sort of shift before we meet again. He can do that. Just one glimmer of hope, one slim thread of…..something.



  1. Nan C said,

    December 3, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    I will pray for you and your tutee. I know that connecting w/ the child or getting some “learning” accomplished can be tough.

    Spend more time in the Motor City Ctr? Sometimes the boys only want to do physical activities… Maybe let him get the ants out of his pants before trying to do a brain task? Maybe trade with another tutor who likes to be more physical? Ask my hubs.

  2. caprilis said,

    December 3, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    I’ll be praying for you both as well. Go shoot baskets with him… I’ll bet that will at least make him laugh!

  3. deb said,

    December 4, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    Praying for a shift, a glimmer of hope! Maybe talk about your boy when he was that age.

  4. December 5, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    God is the God of hope. I am praying that you and he find that hope. I like the suggestions that you or someone does something physical with him first.

  5. January 7, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    […] In December, I mentioned my frustration about connecting with the boy I was assigned to tutor. Our sessions last month were a bust. He was in a horrible mood, didn’t want to do anything,was constantly trying to get upstairs to play basketball without working on anything and I was discouraged. I told you about it here. […]

  6. January 21, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    […] have talked about tutoring in Detroit before, most recently here and here. After I went two weeks ago, I was in limbo. The coordinator decided to put my basketball […]

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