Giorgi the Little Rascal

I’d like to take a moment to share with you in detail a person I rarely mention but with whom I interact with almost on a daily basis. His name is Giorgi and he’s in 4th grade. He’s one of our neighbor’s kids and spends many hours of every day working with his mother for Nino at our house. Unknown to him (or anyone for that matter), I started calling him the Little Rascal, because to me, he encompasses everything those words are meant to describe.

He’s a troubled kid to start. He’s very poor, probably illiterate in his own language and can barely understand the English alphabet. He’s a bully and also one who gets bullied at school. He’s short but stalky and strong and it’s taken him a very long time to warm up to me. I think at first when I would wave at him or use his name at school when I said hello, he was embarrassed since I was sorta calling him out of the crowd. I had only been wanting to show him that I had remembered him and make him feel special….but it seemed to have the opposite effect. So I started playing a little rougher and would tousle his hair when I walked by, or call his name and make a funny face at him…which seemed to loosen him up a bit but I still think he just thought I was crazy.

Then, as the days went on and we would find ourselves walking in the same direction home at the same time, he started offering to carry my bag. I handed him my bag but then looked at this strong little monster and realized how awkward it was for him to carry my heavy bag along with all of his books which he carried in a plastic bag. I took my bag back but offered my very light weight vest for him to carry as to not break his spirit or sense of duty or manliness. And this became our routine. Giorgi and me bags in hand and him carrying my vest the long uphill climb home.

As my time at the school drew to an end I started making a point to pull the 4 illiterate kids in my 4th grade class aside. I gave them notebooks like my 6th graders and taped the Kartuli Rosetta Stone I had made to it. I gave them special writing assignments during class and congratulated them at the end of each day for their efforts. I could see their excitement at my encouragement and approval in something they had done right – and possibly right for the first time in English class. Giorgi was one of these students…and I don’t think it was until those moments that he finally decided I might be crazy, but I was alright.

When I was in Batumi last weekend I spent about an hour looking for the tiniest but still cool looking backpack for my Little Rascal. I found a cargo printed one that seemed almost too small, but I got it anyways. Today, I gave it to him at Nino’s house with his mother present. I had also tucked in another notebook, pencils, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener too. There wasn’t anyone there to truly translate for me, but Toma did a great job I think. I told them I wanted to thank him for always carrying my vest on our walks home – and to be careful with his new backpack so it will last longer. No more plastic bags I told them and I looked at his mother whose eyes were welled up with tears. I’m not sure how poor they are, but he’s had a plastic bag as a backpack since I’ve been here so I can only imagine a backpack is a luxury item for them.

And would you know it – the pack was almost too big for him! I was pleased, since he’ll eventually grow into it.

I asked Toma to take a picture of me and Giorgi. As I wrapped my arms around him for a hug – I realized it would probably feel strange for him, but it’s my last week and that darn little kid deserves a hug. Before he left with his mom for the night, I remember he kept looking at me with a sort of confused look. I hope he knows that I really do care about him, and that he’s worthy of it all just because he exists….as we all are I suppose. : ) Thank you for listening, I’m really going to miss Giorgi my little rascal and pal.

Little Giorgi with his books in a plastic bag and always carrying my vest on our walks home.

Giorgi and I with his new backpack!

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