Baby (Teen) Sitting


I just liked the above.  It made me laugh.

I’ve had a “little brother” from Big Sisters, Big Brothers since I retired in 2011  Poor Brandon…he was on his own last year and I wasn’t too good about keeping in touch.  Brandon and his brothers have been adopted by his grandparents…Mom’s heavy into drugs and Dad’s just irresponsible.  The first year I was with Brandon he moved back and forth between his big dream that his parents would get their act together and get back together and come and pick up the boys and they’d live happily ever after and the nightmare that his parents would show up and take him and his brothers back and they’d go back to living with no food, no heat (they lived in Ohio, not Florida, no clothing, sneakers too small for their feet, chaos).  Both the big hopes and big fears ended the day his grandparents adopted the boys…and Brandon told me he was really glad because now he was safe.  You got to hand it to this couple….They’re my age and have been raising these boys for the past seven years.

Anyway, Brandon is a good kid who wouldn’t be able to stay organized if his life depended on it.  We usually spent his hour with me each week cleaning out his backpack and notebooks.  We rarely did any schoolwork because he never remembered to bring it with him…or he insisted it was all done (it wasn’t)  Mostly I just showed up each week, cleaned out the backpack and listened to him tell me about his weekend.

So Brandon is now in eighth grade and wouldn’t you know, he was at the Y last week, climbed a fence, fell and broke his arm.  He had surgery, and got home from the hospital last Friday.  I was supposed to start with him today over at the middle school.  I went to visit him at home on Saturday and found out his grandparents were trying to figure out who would be with him this week (they both work….Work, raise three kids AND are in their sixties???)  I knew I had Wednesday free so I had him today.

Tell him to bring his schoolwork, I said. And so the poor kid arrived with books and papers and instructions.

Good luck, says his grandfather.  Do you know algebra?  We can’t do it and his aunt can’t do it either.10347708_653802574718706_8966860395776741679_n

We’ll do the algebra first, says I.  I love teaching math.  Brandon groaned.

So we worked (all day) on algebra.  My deal was 20 minutes of work, 5 minute break….Toward the end, I was giving 10 minute breaks…the kid was wiped out.

Good thing he’s such a good kid…otherwise it would have been torture.  Try explaining subtracting integers  like -3 – (-5) or 7 – (-2) why we change the sign….I killed myself coming up with real life situations to make this make sense.  We got the work done but more importantly, I’m hoping he understands and remembers what we did.  I’m not expecting great things…this kid still uses his fingers to add 5 and 7.

So here’s what I learned….all these grandparents that are raising (or helping raise) grandchildren deserve a medal (or something better like a week in Fiji)   They are my heroes this week.

What am I reading?  I just finished Shotgun Lovesongs.  My sister, Kim, recommended it and I can’t remember ever NOT liking a book she recommended. She doesn’t always love the books I love but I always love the ones she suggests.   It’s a good book…good characters you can care about and enjoy spending time with (I know…don’t end sentences with prepositions)  Many narrators…good friends from a small town in Wisconsin.  Way too much drinking but other than that…I did like this book.

And I liked Amy Bloom’s  Lucky Us.  I’m thinking my mom might like it…Events take place during the 30s and 40s…nice.  And I thought Redeployment was good….short stories narrated by Iraqi veterans.  Sean wasn’t crazy about it…said they were all too much the same.  Perhaps but they did shine a light not only on what a mess it was/is over there but what the men and women are going through when they come home.  My favorite Iraq war books are Sunrise Over Fallujah (YA book by Walter Dean Myers) and Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk but this was good.

All’s well.  My back is good as long as I don’t overdo things.   I don’t cough any more.  I can pretty much eat anything (except fried food and I shouldn’t do that anyway).  I have enough energy to live my life. What more could I ask for?  And every day I am so incredibly grateful to be alive.  Lucky me.10525920_10152171079631722_2749380347510624281_n




10 thoughts on “Baby (Teen) Sitting

  1. I have always enjoyed reading about how you teach, Mary. Tonight was one of those shining examples of how special you are – – always taking time to help struggling students – no matter how old they are or what their circumstances are. Bravo.

  2. Deirdre Christman

    Lucky Brandon, having you for his mentor! I wouldn’t be able to make heads nor tails of algebra. (Put a dollar sign in front of numbers, though, and I’m a whiz.)

    I too have thought about all those people our age raising grandchildren, usually with very little money. They work, they take care of their families, and they have so little time for themselves. I’m lucky. I don’t deserve more than Brendan’s grandmother, but for some reason I have more than my share. Maybe the next world will be fair…

    So glad you’re feeling great! I can’t believe it’s been less than a year since you were diagnosed, and here you are, doing everything again. Hooray!!! Can’t wait to see you in four weeks!

  3. Brandon is lucky to have you. And thanks for the comments about grandparents raising grandkids. I expect my tickets to Fiji in the mail any day now. 🙂

  4. Thanks for this, Mary. I hope Brandon finds something he loves in life. Good for you for adding such a positive spin to his life.



    What a great story! I’ll remember that! Reading Jacqueline Winspear’s latest WW1 novel-very interesting!

  6. I love reading your blog Mary. Good luck to Brandon. He is lucky to have you in his life.

  7. Brandon is lucky to have you! And you know algebra, to boot. I can only imagine being a kid in your classroom-pay attention, have fun, learn alot. Not enough like you. Wendie


  8. What an enriching day with Brandon! The quality of your commitment to him is already changing his world. Teaching for me has always been a quest for those magic moments. Sonia’s comments about grandparents bringing up their grandchildren says it all and makes me laugh. I miss you and think of you often, wistful that I missed you on your last whirlwind journey up north. Please know I feel as connected to you as ever and sigh in relief as your energy and sense of normalcy is returning, as I knew it would.

  9. Dorothy Cresswell

    We have two close friends who are raising grandchildren and I agree that that are Heros of the highest order!
    So glad to hear you are well enough to return to Brendon!

  10. Love the e e cummings quote. It’s a great one for all but especially for teachers.

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