Katie once taught English to a 7-year-old boy, Andy. She never met his parents; she only talked to his mother over the phone about the hourly pay for tutoring. The family had a big house, but every time Katie visited, she saw only Andy and the Filipino maid, who acted like his substitute mother.
The boy did not perform well in school and the teachers thought he was strange. But Andy was good at astronomy and knew a lot about the solar system. He told Katie that he loved the planet Pluto the most because “It is far, far away from the other planets.” Katie called him the Pluto boy whenever she referred to him. Like the planet, Andy was not close to his peers.
Katie tutored Andy twice a week, but the tutoring sessions did not go smoothly – no matter how hard Katie tried, Andy just looked out the window as if he couldn't wait for the tutoring time to end. Often times, Katie had to chase Andy around the house. Or he would sing songs, eat crackers, drink soda, pick his nose…anything but paying attention to Katie.
Two months passed, and Katie had taught Andy almost nothing. Her patience was wearing thin. One day, Katie said to him: “If you don't want to learn, why don't we go out?” To Andy, that was a brilliant idea.
They hopped in a taxi, and were at a bookstore minutes later. “Go get any books you want,” she said. Andy picked up two comic books on Detective Conan and a book on volcanoes. “I want to show my mom that I bought these books myself.” After the bookstore, they went to a supermarket. “Andy, you can also tell your mommy that you do grocery shopping yourself.” He pushed the shopping cart, strolled along the supermarket aisles, and picked up bananas, ham, orange juice, chocolate bars… – he was fully in control. Andy looked over his shoulder and said to her: “Katie, today is the happiest day of my life!”
Then, Katie realized that Andy was not a strange boy. He was just lonely. Perhaps he had been far away from people for too long.
*Katie and Andy are not their real names.