Let me tell you about Matteo. Every camp I work I have a favourite kid, and woah. Matteo is probably top of the all-time list. And I've met a lot of Matteo's. In fact, never met a Matteo that I didn't like. I've met several Lucrezia's that displeased me though. But Matteo? A winning name. Not unlike LAURA.
He is six. And teeny tiny, with dark hair and those adorable milk teeth that can melt even the coldest, darkest heart (HI!).
He is the smartest kid I've ever taught. Literally, I will explain something to the class ONCE and he will watch me closely, intently, never fussed by his two friends who are hanging upside by their ankles from the one wall fixture in the room or the blonde girl that is drawing phallic representations in his workbook, he just watches. And when I stop speaking he nods, and automatically all of the other kids turn to him so that he can translate.
We did Days of the Week and I threw myself around the room making a different silly voice for each day and a special movement, so that in the end all I had to do was a hand gesture and they knew which day I was hankering after them to say. Example: TUESday can sound a bit like, "Atch-choo!" As in "ATCH-CHOOS-DAY!" Eventually that becomes a sneeze and then just the action of a sneeze. And thus, by the end of the week I have six year old kids snotting on me and then looking proudly on as if to say, "Now THAT was some good English!"
I was drilling and drilling and drilling them. Sneezes, a Days of the Week song sang to the Adaams Family theme tune, The Happy Days song, several games in groups that involved recognising how the word sounds against how it is spelt. And then I held up a bag of lollipops. It was testing time. Suddenly the swinging kids dropped from the light fixtures and paid attention.
"Mountainday!" said one.
"Freeeeeeegday!" said another.
"Bo," said a particularly irritating one.
And then came Matteo.
"Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday," he reeled off in one breath. And then he could have added, "Now can we go to the pub for a swift half whilst these clowns continue to figure it out?" except he was too busy jumping around with PURE, UNADULTERATED joy that he got the cola flavoured sweet, and all he wanted to do thereafter was help the other kids get the answers right.
Damn. If he was ten fifteen twenty years older.