The Tardy Times

  Kenny (right rear) and the
Lowell High School soccer team celebrate winning the
  San Francisco  public high schools league championship (followed by the
 Trans-Bay  Championship). Her basketball team also won the city championsip for
 the third year  in a row. She will start at forward in this, her senior year.


  1. The giraffe showed me how to work
  with kids – by helping, not pushing

  2. The joy of thrift

By Kenny Ludlow 
HEN people ask me why I want to work with kids, I have to pause and think. Why do I want to work with kids? They're messy, loud, inexperienced and sometimes irritating. Then I remember where my love for kids was confirmed: at the San Francisco Zoo.
  I walked through the sturdy wooden archway with Daniel on my left and Eli on my right. The sun was beating down on my scalp. My hands became sweaty. Each of my fingers was accompanied by the uncomfortable warmth of a 4-year-old finger.
  I saw the top of Daniel's head, covered in smooth, light brown hair. I saw the top of Eli's head, covered in rough, dark brown hair. Eli's hypnotized gaze was directed toward all the happy people carrying mountains of fluffy cotton candy and armfuls of greasy hot dogs. I figured that we would ultimately end up with those greasy hot dogs. I prepared myself for the mustard-wiping.
   When the twins were born, I was at the hospital to greet them. Their parents are friends of my family and, being the perfect age, I became the baby-sitter. When they turned 4, their mother suggested that I take them to the zoo. I agreed wholeheartedly even though I was not a fan of crowds mostly consisting of tourists.
WE KEPT walking. I found it more and more difficult to take in all that was going on around me. There were hot pink flamingos who stood awkwardly on one leg, as if the other didn't function. I saw a child wearing corduroy overalls. I saw a woman with an orange sun hat that had feathers and fake fruit glued to it. After awhile, all I could take in were blurry colors and dizzying sounds.
     I tried to concentrate on one thing at a time, but I couldn't. Something caught my eye. A tan giraffe with large, brown spots stared straight at me. The creature was beautifully long, with a muscular neck and extensive legs. I watched it quickly and gracefully move away from me, each of its four legs working rhythmically to reach its destination.
    The giraffe approached a smaller giraffe. It was having trouble reaching the leftover leaves at the top of a tall tree. The tall one stretched its neck straight up and, rather than plucking the leaves off and giving the other giraffe what it desired, pulled the branch down so that the small one could reach it.
   A quick tug on my left hand brought me back to reality.
DANIEL'S soft frown made Eli hide behind me. I knew what was coming. It was what every baby-sitter dreads: The Tantrum.
    Daniel (at right) looked up at me. For a split second I thought he was going to spare me the drama. But just like babies who bang their heads on coffee tables or fall headfirst into sandboxes, Daniel's pause was only momentary. He turned bright red. His mouth was open only a crack. It  was more than enough. His high howl got attention from what seemed to be the entire crowd around us.
     Daniel's eyes were fixed on Eli, like the eyes of a lioness who just spotted her soon-to-be dinner. Eli calmly held my hand and looked around for a new animal to observe. That told me he didn't seem to mind the yelling and screaming.
    Daniel then shifted his hot-tempered gaze toward me, and it could have knocked me over. I had been so busy observing my giraffe that I hadn't even considered the possibility that this ordeal was my fault. One hundred pairs of unfamiliar eyes looked our way, I was not ready for them. I wondered for a moment if this was a bad dream.
EVERYTHING was moving so fast, and I looked around, hoping to find someone or something that could help. Flustered, I tried to grab Daniel by the wrists, but he ripped them away from me. His face was damp with tears.
   “What happened?!?”
   “I... he... you... he ...zebras.... cotton candy!”
    In order to find someone who could help me, I searched the audience of people who were looking our way. A father and son, wearing matching Giants T-shirts and baseball caps, stood watching, hand in hand. When I caught the father's eye, I hoped he would want to help. Instead, he and his son stood there for a few more seconds and then walked away. I watched them get smaller and smaller as they walked passed the penguins and the hippo and into the distance.
    By this point, Daniel had his entire mouth open, with a full range of resonance escaping it. Eli stood triumphantly with his chest out. He smiled slightly at seeing me fail to control his brother. This was unbelievable.
   That's when I saw it. Made of deep brown wood and black metal trim, it was simple, yet detailed – small, yet spacious. The bench in front of me was the solution to my problems. I scooped up Daniel with all my might. He kicked and screamed, but I was more than ready for this tantrum to be over. Eli followed close behind me, still proud that he had been able to trigger such an entertaining performance, even though I still had no idea how he had done it.
    Daniel's body was doubled over my right shoulder as I walked to my bench. There were people in my way, but I didn't bother being polite. I rammed my way through the crowd until I was able to set Daniel on the far side of the firm and solid bench. He tried to budge, but my arm was now firmly placed on his leg, denying him the ability to move freely, which came with good 
I SAT ELI on the other side of the smooth, hardwood bench. I leaned forward so that my nose was 6 inches away from Daniel's.
    “I don't know what happened here, but I am through with this tantrum. We will sit here until you are ready to move on,” I declared in a strict tone. “We can sit here for the rest of the day if we have to.”
   This made him flinch. Eli (at right) had been so happy with himself for having caused such a scene that he had not thought about how the tantrum might affect his day.
   Now that both boys were finally staring straight at me with curiosity, I felt like I had finally gained control over the situation. I had put the day in their hands. I had no problem spending the rest of the day on that beautiful bench, and they knew it. If they ever wanted to enjoy their time at the zoo, they would have to put aside their differences and work things out.
   Daniel's screaming was still persistent, but he seemed unsure if it was worth the trouble anymore. After 5 minutes passed, the shouting stopped. Daniel glanced at Eli and Eli nodded.
  “I want to see the zebras!” exclaimed Daniel without hesitation.
HOW COULD he possibly let that whole ordeal go? That is when I realized how special these boys were: They could go from being totally delighted to totally angry and back to totally delighted within 5 minutes. They never dwelled on the small problems and were always ready to move on to the next fun thing.
   I had solved this issue on my own, and it made me proud to know that I could do something so difficult by myself. I remembered the giraffe I had seen while entering the zoo. The animal had been able to help its child reach its own food just like I had helped Daniel and Eli solve their dispute. I had put the problem into their hands and forced them to work it out themselves.
   I was able to teach them a lesson and they were able to teach me a lesson – that troubles are only temporary.
  Working with kids reminds me to take things lightly. Problems can be solved because problems are only temporary issues that need a little attention to be resolved. That day at the zoo, Daniel and Eli presented me with a way to teach, as well as learn, and I love them dearly for it.          

Kenny, a senior at Lowell High School, spent the summer as a junior counselor at the YMCA’s Camp Jones Gulch near Pescadero. She hasn't yet chosen a college. 


thrift \ ’thrift \ vb  : The act of shopping at a store where second-hand items are sold.
I fell in love at the age of 5. The day I met my first Barbie, I fell head over heels in love.  Soon enough, Barbie needed a companion.  My mom and I took my ten-dollar life savings to Toys ‘R’ Us, where we found Barbies for $30. Even the generic Barbies were $20.
   We hopped into the station wagon and drove back to our neighborhood’s favorite department store, Thrift Town.  A slightly used Barbie would cost me one dollar. I bought ten, and I’ve been obsessed with Thrift Town ever since.
    It may seem a stretch for a dedicated athlete and jazz musician to spend her spare time roaming and rummaging through thrift stores, but they are a significant part of my life for numerous reasons.
    Thrifting is like time travel: Every hand-knit sweater, brightly colored pair of bell bottoms, and feathered church hat at some point belonged to someone else. When I "sift through the thrift," I imagine who wore those patent leather boots, and what kind of person sported that twill blazer.
   The real magic happens the moment I put on the garment. I become the person who once wore it, or at least whom I imagine that person to be. When I try on a pink cardigan trimmed with fake pearls, I become a young woman in New York City, trying to push her way into the elite crowd. She hopes her stunning new sweater will draw eyes away from the run in her stockings. Sometimes, I get lost in these images. I wake from my daydreams with the knocking on the dressing-room door. "Miss, miss! Are you OK?"
    Thrifting is also a fun, affordable way to hang out with my friends. Instead of going to expensive movies, to parties, or out to dinner, we go to thrift stores. We take pictures of each other in offbeat outfits, which are nothing like the mass-produced clothing at the downtown stores and the malls. It's a teenage version of dress-up. We can spend all day at a thrift store, and still be sad to leave. I value the time I get to spend with my friends. 
    Living within our means is crucial. Now that the economy is in such trouble, I want to make sure that I can budget my money, and thrifting helps me do that.
    Thrift store shopping helps the environment, as it is a form of recycling. When I donate to thrift stores, I keep the clothing out of the landfill, allowing it to become part of someone else's wardrobe. When I buy from a thrift store, I promote the cycle by helping the planet-saving thrift store stay in business. Also, it saves the fossil fuels that would be used to ship clothing made overseas to stores here.
    I introduce my friends to thrift stores, so that they can live the thrifter lifestyle. I want them to introduce their friends to the thrift stores movement. If more people shopped at thrift stores instead of mainstream clothing stores, our society could be nudged on its way to sustainability.
    Thrifting expresses several aspects of my personality. I like clothing that separates me from the crowd, I like to spend time with friends, I am a money-saver, and I am concerned about the environment. To the store clerk, I can answer “Miss, Miss, I am definitely OK.”

The Tardy Times


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