The journey between the school and Lusca’s home was one that Toby made on a frequent basis, he knew the route off by heart and could probably do it with his eyes closed if he was asked to. Toby’s class at college had finished late that day which saw him making the forty-five minute ride back from Pullman in under twenty minutes. He’d arrived just as school was kicking out and sought Lusca out amongst the crowds of escaping children. Now they sped through the familiar town towards the Henderson house, Lusca clinging tightly to the back of the bike and Toby driving a little less recklessly than he was used to. On a normal day he would have almost certainly brought the truck, but his Dad needed it for deliveries and so Toby had been forced to bring the bike. He slowed as Lusca’s house came into view, pumping the break until they rolled to a stop outside of the postcard perfect house. Toby switched off the engine and pulled off his helmet, letting Lusca jump down first before clambering off the motorcycle. “Just don’t tell your Mom about the bike,” Toby said, grinning as he tucked the helmet under his arm and walked towards the house, “How was school anyway? They teach you anything interesting today?”
Lusca was as excited to get out of school as he was dreading it. On the one hand, his babysitter Toby was great and he loved it when he came to watch him, on the other, his parents were going to be gone a whole week, which made him kinda sad. They got him a tablet so they could talk on skype, and gave it plenty of games to keep him busy, but it wasn't the same as getting hugged by his mom and putting together a puzzle with his dad. When he got out of school, he didn't race out like he normally did, and instead kind of shuffled along with his hands holding onto his backpack straps. When he saw Toby though, he got excited despite himself and raced towards him squealing out his name. Especially when he saw Toby's motorcycle. He'd seen him on it before, but this was the first time he'd actually gotten to ride on it, and he knew from the other kids who gawked that they were all very jealous of him as he climbed on and death gripped the bike. He squealed in excitement for the first part of the ride, then hid his face for the rest as the wind on it was making him cold.When they got to his house, he was giggling up a storm, excited and hyper after the ride and slid off the bike. "I won't tell, it was a lotta fun though." he said, skipping towards the house. "I had so much fun at school today! We had a recital and everyone got to see me play! And I didn't mess up once!" he frowned a little and said, "I wish mommy and daddy didn't have to leave today, I was the only one who didn't have anyone watching me play...." he smiled again and turned to skip backwards and said, "But, my teacher did give me a cupcake for doing so good, so that's nice.....I have some math homework I gotta do, but I might need help. It's about fractions and I'm not good with them. My teacher let me bring home the shapes to help but i don't really understand what I'm doing yet..."
Toby found himself laughing along with Lusca as the two of them headed up the driveway to the house. “Oh yeah?” Toby asked, juggling the two helmets as he fumbled for the house keys. “That’s great! You should have said, I could have cut class to come and see you. Let me know next time.” Finding the key he unlocked the door, letting it swing back on his hinges as the two of them passed through the threshold. Toby set his things down on the side table and shut the door. “Now math homework I can help with, none of that english verb nonsense you had me helping with last time. It took me weeks to get it out of my head.” Toby crossed through the hallway into the kitchen, the Henderson’s had left the room spotless and Toby knew he was going to have a struggle keeping it clean for the rest of the week. Opening the fridge Toby peered through the piles of freshly stocked ingredients, that was one of the perks of his sitting gig - the nearly unlimited food supply. “What do you fancy for dinner Lusca? I can do pizza, mac and cheese, lasagna?” he called over his shoulder, inspecting a jar of tomato sauce before checking the dates on the pizza. There was a note on the work surface left by the ever organised Mrs Henderson and Toby picked it up, scanning it whilst Lusca made his decision. Written in neat script was a list of instructions for Toby. How to program the washing machine, how to turn on the heating, not to put coffee grounds in the garbage disposal and Lusca’s normal bed time. Not that he’d be abiding to that, Toby had a ton of classic movies to get the kid through before the end of the week.
Lusca bit his lip when Toby said he would cut class to see him and said, "My mommy told me skipping classes was bad though, that's why I didn't say. I didn't want you to get in trouble....I will let you know next time though, maybe you won't have class on that day." Then he brightened and said, "Oh! My class is gonna do a play soon, I don't remember what day but we're gonna do Jack and the beanstalk and I get to be Jack! We're gonna have a real Gooser!" he bounced excitedly and said, "Do you think you'll be able to go to that one?" He pulled his shoes off in the entryway of the house, placing them beside the door. If he didn't do this, then he'd never find his shoes the next day to go to school. He giggled when Toby said he could help with math but not the verbs again. "I wish it stuck in my head like it did yours." he said, skipping into the kitchen and pulling himself up onto a stool. He was trying to get the stool to spin when Toby spoke of what to eat for dinner. "Oooh...I love lasagna! Can we do that?" he moved to shrug off his backpack after he was on the stool, pulling out his homework and bag of shapes to use to figure out his fractions. He frowned at his math homework and said, "I don't like math. Why can't I just use a calculator?"
Toby eyed the pasta sauce and shot Lusca a wide smile, "Sure thing, lasagna it is," he said, taking the mince from the fridge and opening the cupboards to search for pasta. Mrs Henderson had left a notebook with some of her recipes on, and following the guidance on there he sought out the rest of the ingredients. Toby tracked them down pretty quickly and set everything out on the side as Lusca started on his homework. He had to laugh at the calculator comment, back at school Toby had almost certainly made the same complaint. But seeing the ingredients list gave him an idea. "Hey look," Toby said, holding the paper out to Lusca, "This is why, see look fractions - if you don't get your fractions right then your food tastes gross." He picked the onion up off the side and gently rolled it across to Lusca. "Now the recipe calls for half an onion," Toby said, "But you've got a whole onion there so what have you got to do?" He reached out and picked the onion up, before taking a knife from the block and cutting the onion in two. "And now I have two halves okay?" He looked at Lusca's face for a minute, searching for any indication that he was understanding what Toby was telling him. "So now I'm going to cut this onion in half again, do you know what that gives me?"
Lusca grinned widely when Toby agreed to make lasagna for dinner, knowing that guaranteed him to a delicious lunch at school tomorrow. He hated school lunches, they were gross and clearly cheap mass produced. He'd had so many stomach aches from eating the food when he was in elementary school that his parents no longer let him eat it after a few weeks when they were able to identify that it was the food at the school and not other potential issues such as allergies or lactose intolerance. Since then, all of his meals for lunch were made at home. Lusca grinned when Toby laughed at his comment, glad to know that at least he felt the same way. He frowned a little when he saw the ingredients list and the fractions on it. "Oh....I guess they're all over, huh?" he murmured, glancing over at the onion next.Lusca had been struggling in math for some time now, and with the introduction of fractions, his grade was sliding from a D to an F. He just wasn't good at numbers, it seemed. He could do some basic things, like single digit subtraction or addition or multiplication, but the minute you added more numbers, he started to get things mixed up and get the wrong answers. His parents, upon returning from the conference, planned on testing him to see if he had dyscalculia, which would explain a lot regarding his struggle in math. He watched Toby cut the onion in half, brows furrowed in concentration. When he asked how much he'd have if he cut it in half again, Lusca paused, unsure. "Um.....well.....four halves?" he offered tentatively, peeking up at Toby, clearly not sure if his answer was right or wrong.
Toby let out a slight smile as Lusca gave his response, and shot the kid a wink as he sliced the onion in half again leaving four equally sized pieces. “Okay, I think I might have confused you there,” he said, setting down the knife and pointing to the pieces. “So you’re almost right, yeah it’s four,” Toby went on, “But in this case it’s four quarters, you see two is halves, four is quarters and…eight is eighths for example - but we’ll come back to that. So when I cut the onion in two we get two halves, when I cut those two halves in half I get quarters and see…” he pointed to the onion, “We have four of them.” Toby let that sink in as he added some oil to the pan and then returned to dicing the onions.Picking up the quarters and sandwiching them back together he said, “So if four quarters equals a whole onion, then two quarters equals what?” Toby asked, as he split the onion in half again. He had to hope that what he was saying was making sense, during his years at high school fractions had been explained to him in lots of different ways with various levels of success. Toby tended to find the food analogies worked best though, almost exclusively when it included sweets - he figured that might be an avenue for exploring later in the evening. “Okay, I need to put the onions in the pan now but we can do the same thing with pasta,” Toby grinned, frisbeeing a lasagna sheet across the table. He diced up the rest of the onions and tossed them in the pan, followed by the mince. The smell of cooking gradually filled the room as Toby set to work putting the meal together, “What’s the first question on your homework anyway?” he said, as he stirred the pan, “Read it out to me, let’s see if I can explain…”
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