March 30, 2005

The newest extra

When With-a-Why told me last week that he had decided to work with his friend UrbanKid for the science fair, I was happy at his choice to work collaboratively instead of on his own. With-a-Why is shy, and even though he lives in a house that is crammed full of people, he doesn't often spend time with kids his own age. He's been hanging out with teenagers since kindergarten. The fate of the youngest child in a family. Even his best friend, Philosophical Boy, is two years older than he is.

So UrbanKid came over last night, and I helped the two boys build a windmill. We used popsicle sticks, tacks, a cut-up manila folder, spools that we took the thread off, yarn, the green stuff that came on the bottom of a floral arrangement, and a variety of other household items. It did occur to me later that we could probably have looked up plans on the internet instead of re-inventing the windmill, but I didn't think of that until later. Helping them with the project was fun, but the boys did not seem all that interested in the windmill or each other, and I was kind of questioning why they wanted to work together.

Once the project was done, however, the boys took off on what seemed to be a tour of the house. I could hear UrbanKid upstairs questioning Boy in Black, asking him all about some kind of video game. I could hear Shaggy Hair talking to UrbanKid, teasing him about something in school. Down in the living room, With-a-Why went to the piano and started playing a jazz arrangement. UrbanKid grabbed a pair of drumsticks from the windowsill, sat down at the drum set with great confidence, and began laying down a beat. That's when it occurred to me. With-a-Why wasn't looking for someone to work on the science project with; he was adding an Extra to the household.

By the time I drove him home, UrbanKid was quite chatty, telling me all about his life. He lives with his great aunt and great uncle. More recently, his great grandmother moved into the household. I asked him how the household was adjusting to the addition of another person. "Well," he said, "I had to give up my room."

"That sucks," I said, "But I am sure there are some advantages to having her there."

"Yes," he said, in the completely unself-conscious manner of a fourth grader, "It's always nice to have one more person who loves you in the house."

21 comments:

PPB said...

Your house is the ever expanding table....there's always room for one more! (The biggest dilemna is whether or not you're going to run out of clever pseudonyms for your extras)

I love UrbanKid's wisdom.

Dr.K said...

Guess what? This has nothing to do with your post above, but I'm the 10,000th visitor to your blog. Do I get some kind of prize?

jo(e) said...

Dr. K, this isn't the blog with the prizes. That's Pilgrim/Heretic's blog.

I'm still waiting for the prize I was supposed to get for reading your dissertation.

Dr.K said...

It's coming. Um...what would you like?

jo(e) said...

K, I think you know me well enough to figure that out.

Songbird said...

PPB, I don't think jo(e) will ever run out of cleverness.
What a beautiful statement to come out of a 4th-grader living in an unusual situation.

Cut-Rate Parasite said...

I have a shy kid who picks up extras, too. I wonder if it's part of an unconscious strategy. Maybe he isn't so much as drawn to gatherings of people instead of one-on-one interaction.

Musey_Me said...

Congrats on your new child. I am surprised though that no red slips were used in the making of the science fair project.

Cut-Rate Parasite said...

" ... so much SHY as drawn to ... " (I always leave crucial words out when I'm typing).

jo(e) said...

Musey, the first time a kid comes to the house, we hide the lingerie. Don't want to give the wrong first impression ....

jo(e) said...

Cut-Rate: I was a painfully shy kid and as an adult, I am an extrovert who is most comfortable in groups of people. I can only do the one-on-one thing if it is someone I really trust.

So I think your observation is on target ....

Phantom Scribbler said...

Ok, am I the only one who cried at this post?

Dr.K said...

I cried.

JM said...

I cried. But I cry at everything.

Anonymous said...

How nice that your kids bring these extras to your life. My best friend was voted in as a member of the family at wedding once. Everyone still introduces her as a cousin.

Lisa V said...

That was me above. Blogger didn't want my name. I think I must be responsible for 8000 of those hits. I want the prize.

negativecapability said...

Yes, a lot of time the "shy" kids are really just observers. My younger brother is just like this -not what you would call outgoing, but gets along well with everyone. It sounds like your youngest is good at picking up on personalities that would mesh well with the group.

This blog makes me want kids now! (Bad idea...should probably wait at least until those exams are over...)

Moreena said...

I don't know how many times I can say it, but wow your kids are bright and thoughtful and all around super impressive beings. As are you, of course, in catching so quickly the real import of the science project partnership.

Friday Mom said...

There will be countless stories told by "extras" in years to come of the great times spent at your house.

YelloCello said...

Awwww!
(And I second Negative Capability's comment about shy kids being observers.)

timna said...

that's so sweet.