Genna, my wife, has done some tutoring after she retired as a full-time teacher. One family, the Wieners, had five girls (poor Mr. Wiener, five weddings and five educations). Genna tutored the second oldest, and the second youngest over the last several years. Tutoring the second oldest, Mina, let's just say was uneventful by comparison to tutoring the second youngest, Tess. That's because, by that time, Helen, the very youngest girl, arrived on the scene, rewriting the definition of a precocious three year old.
From Tess's first tutoring session on, Genna would come home chuckling, "You've got to meet / you won't believe what, the 'little one' did!"
First of all, God is unfair parceling out "gifts" to certain newborns. Genna described Helen to me as a cross between Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley Temple, with a slightly olive complexion. I'm surprised that she wasn't born with a little tiara on her head, but I'm glad for Mrs.Wiener's delivery. At age three, she was fairly fluent in four languages. French and Hebrew, the family's heritage and religion, Spanish with the housekeeper, and English, for this country tis of us. Beauty, check. Brains, check.
Back to the first meeting. Genna crouched down to Helen's eye level and said, "Hi sweety, how nice to meet you!" Helen put her chin down, kept her eyes focused with Genna's, then turned and bolted into another room. Genna was hoping that she wasn't getting to the age where her face would scare certain children. Genna fully expected not to see Helen very much when she came to tutor Tess.
Wrong. As Genna approached the house for the second session with Tess, she could hear from the open window, "Schweety la!!" ( French for "Schweety's here!!"). The front door swung open, and there was Helen, arm's up, palm's out, "High Schweety!!" From that point on, everyone in the household referred to Helen as 'Schweety', as Helen referred to Genna the same way.
Helen was supposed to be asleep when Genna arrived for the tutoring sessions in the early evenings. Never happened. Helen would always find a way or excuse to be up when Genna arrived.
"I just want to make Schweety a cup of tea (with her new play set)."
Another time, Genna heard her mother saying, Mon Dieu!, Mon Dieu! from Helen's bedroom. A few seconds later, Helen burst into the room where Genna was tutoring Tess, in her birthday suit, saying, "Good night, Schweety!", as her mother ran into the room after her.
There was a different story like these every time Genna came home from a session.
Finally, I did get the chance to meet Helen. Genna had just had some surgery, and was unable to drive, so I took her up to the Wiener's house. Introductions took place in the foyer. I met the mother and father, two of the daughters, then Helen, making her way down the staircase like Scarlett O' Hara in "Gone With the Wind" saying ahead of the intro, "I'm Helen, the little one!"
We all roared. This kid, at age 4, had such a presence, and needless to say, outdid her advance billing.
I want to hope that Genna, some day, will return to the Wieners to tutor Helen, but I don't think so. We've kept in touch with the family, to stay current with the never ending stories about Helen. Stay tuned.