By Rachel Peterson, 2019-2020 Literacy First Tutor
One of my favorite memories as a Literacy First tutor is about a kindergarten student I had that was very outgoing and friendly. His name is Alvaro. When I first picked him up, he told me a million stories on our walk to the classroom. I never had to wonder what Alvaro was thinking, because he always told me. If I asked a question, I would receive a book explaining the answer. For a 5-year-old, he was very articulate.
We would walk the path outside to get to our classroom, and inquisitively and without skipping a beat, Alvaro would point out the butterfly or squirrel in the path. He would bend down and notice the flower, without picking it, just noticing it. When it started to warm up, and the bluebonnets began springing up in the field next to the school, he would always tug my hand and direct my attention to the most incredible sea of blue flowers. Alvaro is a child that doesn’t let the beauty of clouds in the blue sky or a caterpillar on the dirt go unnoticed. He appreciated the life around him with fierce curiosity and bliss. My desk was by the window, and light would stream into our sessions, flooding my desk with sunshine. Alvaro loved to see the shadow the window cast on the table.
One day, I began to notice that a few ants had made their way onto my desk. These ants didn’t bother me much, so I mostly left them to their own devices. On a particularly sunny day, Alvaro and I sat down to do our lesson, when all of the sudden his mouth dropped open and he pointed excitedly: “Hormiga!” I giggled at his response, but his curiosity continued, “porque tienes hormigas aqui?” Why do you have ants here? He wondered. “Pues, son mis amigos!” Well, they are my friends! He thought this was the best response and watched the ants with wonder for a few more moments before getting started with the lesson.
The next few days, there continued to be a couple ants on my desk and each day, Alvaro would come in, inspect the desk, and say “hola amigos de Miss Rachel!” It made my heart giddy that he really believed these ants were my friends. The imagination and appreciation of a child never ceases to amaze me. Now that he was accustomed to the ants being on my desk, I grew to like the tiny, working bugs even more. They reminded me that I was a part of something larger than myself, and I too was making a difference at the end of the day. Alvaro was reminding me too, that even ants are beautiful. He helped me notice a lot of the world around me that perhaps I wouldn’t have without his careful, sweet gaze.
One day after the room had been thoroughly cleaned, there were no ants to be found. I noticed this, and it crossed my mind that Alvaro might notice as well, given our history with the little buddies. So when he came in for tutoring, Alvaro searched my desk, looking under my coffee mug, behind the pencil case, and beside the letter cards. He looked at me with deep confusion and sadness, “donde estan tus amigos?!” he cried. I was worried for just a moment that I would have to break his heart, but I thought for a moment and simply said “afuera por supuesto! Fueron a casa!” Outside, of course! They went home. Just like that, his mind was put at ease as he let out a little “oh” of understanding. Because, of course, ants live outside and of course they would occasionally want to go home. I wonder what was going on in his mind, but it struck me at how compassionate and kind he was in caring for those ants.
I am grateful to have this memory, and Alvaro, I am thinking about you, hoping you are playing with your friends, ants or humans, and continuing to marvel in this wild world that we live in.