It's the last day of May. Both Rudy and I got paid. Liz is in Europe. And Roberto left for a few days, to camp in the Sequoias with some friends.
Brad and I went out to eat. Just the two of us. Because, what he didn't know, is that I simply wanted to sit with him, and just talk about whatever came to mind.
As we were driving to BJ's, well known for their pizza and pizookies, Brad mumbled something about there being an award ceremony this evening. "I'm getting an award tonight," he stated, like it was no big deal.
I waited. Wondered if there was more.
"But, it's for Most Improved. I hate that. Most Improved. It sounds like I didn't know anything all year, and now I am beginning to understand."
"Actually, that's a pretty great award for you. At the beginning of the year you were getting into trouble a lot, and didn't seem to care about doing your work."
"Hmm," he grunted.
"What I mean is that you have improved your attitude. That's a great thing. I'm proud of you." I ran my fingers down his forearm. A gesture of love.
I began to reflect on Brad's last few years, as a student. How in 6th grade and the beginning of seventh he didn't seem to care. Seemed mad. Chose friends that were alright, but academics were sort of a joke to that crowd of kids. And their idea of athletics was wandering around town all night long, unsupervised.
Fortunately, as 7th grade progressed, he found a connection with kids that are very serious about getting good grades, and play sports on organized teams. Brad's spirits have soared, and so has his attitude about what's important. He's not perfect, but he's learning. And trying to improve his grades; because he wants to, not because I am threatening him to do better or else.
"Oh, you know what I did today?" he said, changing the subject, away from the awards ceremony.
I looked over at him, my hands on the wheel, and smiled. "What?"
"Well, the teacher was having a hard time explaining how to solve a point and slope intercept form in math, so I asked her if I could explain it to the other kids. She let me. And they understood how to solve the problem."
He looked at me with a sideways glance and smiled.
"Pretty cool," I said