Sunday, March 23, 2008

To call William my favorite kid in the neighborhood would be overlooking some pretty spectacular kids I’ve been lucky enough to get to know. But at least he deserves some kind of rookie award, worming his way into our ventricles like no one in recent memory.

William is a hellion. He knows what all the rough kids on his block are into and until recently was struggling with school. He’s world-weary and street-smart, and it wasn’t too difficult to predict a future of trouble for him.

Enter our friends Mike and Diane. They live on the same block as William and had taken notice of him. Diane and Mike feel the best way to end violence is to get to know the kids on the block and become involved in their lives (with their parents’ blessing, of course).

For the last few months, Mike and Diane have become William’s mentors. His grades are up to B’s and C’s, and he’s taken an interest in music. I first met William when Diane brought him by for our weekly summer ritual: dividing up the vegetables from our shared CSA box. William was fascinated by the cabbage and wanted to know the names of all the fresh herbs in that week’s harvest. He looked you in the eye when he talked to you. And he took in the details of our house like a kid at a museum: he loved the pot rack, the bookshelves and the compost bin, wriggling with worms.

“You have one of those voices like those people on the radio,” he said to me. Keep in mind I’d never met this kid before. He closed his eyes and said, “Ok, now say something.” “What do you want me to say?” I said. “Yeah,” he laughed. “You sound like one of those radio ladies.”

William thinks John's a rock star because he’s in a band. “There’s a rock star in the kitchen,” he told his sister once when we were over for a visit. The sister took one look at John and just shook her head. Mike and Diane bought William his first guitar for Christmas. We’re bracing ourselves.

We recently caught up with William shoveling the sidewalk.

“John! Christy!” he yelled over to us. When I got up close I said it looked like he was working pretty hard.

“Yeah, my back’s killing me,” he said.

“You’ve need to strengthen those core muscles,” I said.

“Corn muscles?”

“No, core,” I said, “like an apple core,” and I pointed to the band of muscles around his stomach. “That’s the center of you,” I said. “Strengthen those, and your back’ll be fine.” I have a feeling, though, that the center of William is something else altogether.

1 comment:

tracy said...

I'm working on my corn muscles in preparation for summer. It's what we do in Kansas.