Tobi. As you know if you’ve read “Tobi’s Literalisms”, he’s a pretty funny guy. He has a lot of wonderful qualities. In fact I was talking with his teacher last weekend and I asked how he was doing – basically if he was behaving himself. She said this: “Tobi is such a lovely boy. He’s really wonderful.” I asked because when I asked him if he’s obeying his teacher he said yes, but he said it with a bit of hesitation. I knew the hesitation wasn’t because of something terrible he’d done, but I knew he felt he needed to confess something. The guy looks guilty if he steps on an ant. “What is it?” I asked. “Well”, he said, “Sometimes I laugh when I’m not supposed to. I can’t help it – Ezzi makes me laugh all the time.” I explained that laughing was good but he need to control it and laugh only at the right times and not distract the class. He said it was hard, but he would try. So obviously, he’s not really a problem in class. Last year I realized that he loved school – everything about it, except for the pesky academics that is. Those he could do without. I began teaching him to read years ago. I then began to wonder if he’d ever catch on. He started doing better last year, but still not where I felt he should be. Trae and Tanika were both very easy to teach to read and they caught on right away. With Tobi, there were many tears. Mostly his. We kept at it and found that he is motivated by rewards and competition. The rewards just needed to be a sticker chart with a small prize after receiving a designated number of stickers. The competition came by reading more books and filling up more book lists than his friends. We continued plugging along this summer while school was not in session, much to his dismay I might add. He has just finished his 4th week of 2nd grade and I think he’s finally getting it. He doesn’t dread books anymore. He’s only allowed to bring 1 book home from school each day, which bugs him, because he can’t get ahead of his friends. But we have a sticker chart at home and he wants to fill it up. He gets a prize after every 50 stickers. I told him today that he could get 1 sticker for every book read, and that he could choose the book (knowing he has quite a few very simple books). He immediately went to his room and began reading. After a few books I joined him. He had already read 3 books and began reading one to me – quite a long book, much more difficult than he usually reads. But he did great, cruising through some pretty challenging words. He even seemed to enjoy the story. I encouraged him – told him I was proud of him for picking such a hard book. He smiled his half smile and said, “I picked it because I wanted you to be proud of me.” Was I ever thankful that I told him exactly that! And proud I was. What a guy. I’m also thankful that the reading thing is finally clicking. Now I have to work on the monotone voice he likes to use.