I tutor a 9th grader three times a week. To say it was life-changing would be an understatement. Saying I’m busy has a new meaning now. I’m helping her.
It’s strange being transported back into this high school world; the world where you have to dress to impress, slink your shoulders to your ears, run after your crush and deal with your annoying mom. Grounding is your worst fear. Not seeing your friends after school is another. Forget about jobs, forget about responsibility, but remember your backpack and your algebra homework. School punches you in the face as your mom is yelling at you to do your homework.
Now I wish my mom would yell at me to do something, yell at me to give me some sort of direction. Being aimless in your 20’s makes you miss when your mom made you dinner every night.
So here are a couple things I learned from my 9th grader, a very fiesty, unique breed of a human, that makes me laugh every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday.
- Always fight for what you believe in
My 9th grader believes that this girl is a snake for kissing her ex-boyfriend. She went right up to her and told her, loudly. She’s learning to be upfront about her feelings.
- Anything is a toy (and a weapon), therefore, everything is fun
The first thing my 9th grader said when I sat down was that she was “babysitting.” Then, I met “LaQueesha,” one long string of pink plastic beads. She told me she whipped the string at the windows during Spanish class to stop a fight that was ensuing between two girls. She walked around with it touching the floor. She told me it could stand. LaQueesha can even walk. She whipped LaQueesha at the boys who bullied her.
- Always stand up for yourself
Beverly Hills High School is the jungle according to my 9th grader. Anyone that tries to “try” her, she makes sure they’re intimidated by her. Her face rests in aggression. Girls that whisper about her red hair will be “tried.” She tries, yet she’s never thrown a punch.
- Don’t care about what anyone thinks of you, just be yourself
She carries around a backpack with holes that reeks of old lunches and hot cheetos. She uses the names of her enemies to memorize her Spanish vocabulary. She gets distracted by her two pitbulls everytime I utter the word “biology homework.” Her first car, she says, will be a white van.
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from tutoring her is the world is huge but some themes are universal. High school is hard, no matter what state or country you’re from. Being 14 is the combination of being a child and an adult, which is like driving blind down a freeway. I’m just happy I can be here to hold her hand.