“The Tool”

MAX in Tigers baseball uniform 5-15-18

“You can’t start a sentence with ‘and,’” the multitalented student – who also plays baseball on a team named the Tigers in addition to possessing a very impressive knowledge of artists & lyrics sung decades before he even arrived on the scene – commented after coming across it in the pages he was reading. He made an identical remark about the word ‘but’ when that term began a sentence too.

Two weeks shy of turning 9 years old, my third grade nephew & I read the initial 5 chapters of an old book about a shark attack in 1916 he’d just checked out of the school library. Until he’d arrived home from school, I’d been at his house playing with his younger siblings, notably his brother of 4 when we played the matching game in which he’s a master as well as blocks on the carpet which we shaped into various animals. Snuggling his 1 month & 1 day old baby brother was a highlight too.

Back to the reading: Taking turns, I was thrilled to read & assist my nephew with every other chapter as we opened his new rental. Chapters 1, 3 & 5 were his & I read 2 & 4. He was becoming quite the reader! We came across a last name, something like “Oelirich.”

“When you see last names just sound them out however you think it goes,” I told him. “There’s so many different ones you’ll see. No one knows every word.”

“Isn’t it funny I can read the word ‘Philadelphia’ but I didn’t know ‘announce’?” he observed.

I explained phrases used in times of old, specifically “lad” for boy; “indigo” for a blue/purple mix; & “bathing costume” – when he’d bounce up & prance around his bedroom playfully striking model poses & grinning while saying things like “I’m fancy!” – instead of swimsuit.

At one point early in our reading time, I was thinking I’d grip his right knee as a nonverbal way to say stop, because I wanted to tell the youngster that he was an Exceptional Reader. Exceptional was my planned adjective. Planned, mind you.

When a pause arrived in the child’s reading, however, I ended up grabbing his knee while simultaneously saying loudly, “Stop!”

I needn’t have had such a shocked he’s-done-it-again reaction to the boy’s immediate song-savvy reply of a tune released a whopping NINETEEN YEARS before he was even born: 

“Hammer Time!”


By Aunt Amy



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