He sits in the back of my beetle. I forgot that eleven-year-olds usually sit in the back, so my attempt at cleaning (a.k.a., throwing everything in the backseat) was completely pointless. I make excuses, some fair, some not so much, and he tells me he doesn’t mind. I ask if his room were clean. He says yes, usually.
We drive for thirty minutes through the snow, the trees bending over the road. It’s supposed to be nearly sixty degrees this weekend, and I’m dreading the brown bedraggled wetness that will bring – just in time for Christmas.
“How was school?”
“What are your dogs names?”
“Do you have any siblings?”
– I ask.
“What’s that?” – he asks, and I clarify:
“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
We go back and forth for a few minutes, neither of us quite sure how to navigate this new, unique relationship. He asks the usual progression of questions:
1. Do you have any children?
No! I answer, up-beatly.
2. Do you have a husband?
No! I answer, equally up-beatly.
I can feel his mind awkwardly fumbling for the next question, because what comes after that?
3. Do you have any pets?
These I do have, thank goodness, and I tell him about our three crazy dogs and my eighteen chickens. He listens to my every word, but he doesn’t always respond. He looks out the window.
He asks what my job is, and when I tell him I teach Latin and then explain what Latin is, he goes on to ask if I teach Spanish? French? What other languages? I wish I could tell him, Yes, yes, I teach them all!
There is a comfortable silence now, like we’ve known each other awhile. Maybe having animals makes me trustworthy. Maybe fulfilling his dream of riding in a beetle makes me fun. Maybe the fact that I “look like a science teacher in those glasses” makes me knowledgable.
Either way, I think we’ve crafted an interesting relationship. One that will happen once a week, growing into each other and our uniqueness.