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Wednesday, November 28, 2035
OK, Serena thinks I really am old and decrepit. She might be half-right. But thanks to everyone pitching in, including Bobby, we had the apartments ready in time for our new boarders. Seems to be a recurring theme at FAR Manor, huh? Call them… the Smiths and the Joneses. Close enough.
Speaking of Bobby, his new best friend is Martina Smith — she’s his age and he’s spent the first week showing her everything around the place. Sean and Mary (her parents) were a little apprehensive at first, but when Pat’s not in school he’s taking the day shift in the pasture, so there was plenty of firepower in case any critter (two-legged or four) were to give trouble. As for boy/girl stuff: 1) they’re 10. 2) kids these days have no modesty whatsoever anyway, so it’s not like “playing doctor” is any thrill. I guess that happens when you spend winters sharing a house with two or three families — after a while, you just stop worrying about walking in on someone… from there, it’s a short step to polite not-seeing and then to doesn’t-matter-anyway. Meanwhile, the kids all have to pile into the bathtub together (with one at a time, only the first few would get warm water), so they’ve known little different. From the privacy perspective, the new folks were thrilled to have their own apartments, even if they’re a little small. They said on the way up here, they were wondering what they might end up with — there are stories already going around about people who are making their guests sleep in tents or the living room floor, some real horror stories. I wonder how much of that is promised help not showing up (like what happened here), and how much is people just taking the government stipend and not bothering to provide for their guests.
Ray Jones is like 6 years old, so he would have been on his own except that he and Pat hit it off somehow… don’t ask me what a half-alienated teen sees in him, or vice versa, but the oldest and the youngest are buddies. It doesn’t seem to bother the Joneses, or maybe it bothers me more than it should. It’s good to see Pat taking an interest in someone other than himself; he just seemed to be pulling himself into a shell before. His homework is starting to turn around, and he’s talking about signing up for music come spring semester. Ray and Martina didn’t take long to adjust to school — their schools were very similar in structure and use the same textbooks for all but one or two courses. Bobby and Martina help each other with their schoolwork, naturally, while Pat helps Ray with reading and math. I guess they spend a lot of time out at the tree house in the pasture.
School is a lot more fluid than it used to be when I was a kid… but back then, school wasn’t taught by volunteers with the county facilitating the community centers, administering tests, and furnishing textbooks and lesson materials. Most of us rotate teaching various classes, except that Serena always does creative writing and drama (there’s some prestige for our little school, having a known playwright on the staff) and I end up doing history. Daughter Dearest, being part of the school system staff, does most of the admin work for our group and teaches music (which might be part of what has Pat alienated; he wants to take music but not from his mom). I once suggested that Luke come up and teach important skills like barbecuing and mixology, but I got voted down. Luke said he wouldn’t have the time for it anyway; even during the fall and winter he gets traffic coming through.
I got a fun handout for history on Monday, it asked me to go over a list of acronyms and phrases you don’t hear anymore. Some of them took me back:
Since there were ten items, and ten kids, I cut the list up and had each kid draw one. Then they had to look up the term they drew and make a short presentation about what they found (the way I teach history, the kids absorb it almost by accident — while developing research, writing, and presentation skills). We ended up in a long discussion about the religious right, their connection to the junta years (2014-2022), and why “normal” people (who were a majority) didn’t do much to stop it. That lead to a discussion of 20th-century politics, then on to the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the Revolutionary War. We ran wayyyy overtime, and cut into Rene’s biochem lesson, but he’s pretty understanding about that sort of thing. The kids can cover a week or more of material during these afternoon stream-of-consciousness discussions, even if they nearly wear me out. Sometimes, I feel like a mouse on a Google hunt. But when we get to the late 1700s again, we’ll breeze right through it and Rene will catch up. But that was just the first presentation. A few of them should dovetail together (like SUV, OPEC, and supertanker), so we can do all three presentations before triggering the info-tsunami.
I asked Rene once what he thought about teaching a class using his sister’s book. “It can’t be easier,” he said. “If something doesn’t make sense, I just give Christina a call.” Lucky him — how many teachers would even think of calling Dr. Cardenas-Roszinski with a question about The Circle of Life: Elementary-Level Biochemistry (3rd ed.), even if they could hunt down her office number? Then again, they would just call the school support staff and get the question answered nearly as quickly.
Our community center isn’t terribly fancy: a hall that we use for classrooms or community meetings, bathroom, the remote medassist room with an outdoor access, a serving area that abuts the covered outdoor kitchen, plenty of insulation to keep the place easy to heat. Maybe 2000 square feet, plenty of room for a school of 10 in a community whose population breaks 60 only if you count the animals. We put it up in 2026, during the Restoration, using materials and some labor furnished by the government. The Boy, and Kim and Christina, painted two murals on opposite walls, depicting how 21st century society has developed… one from order to chaos and order again, the other from machinery to humanity. I’ve used them in the history lessons.