Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I am Batman....

            During that first Christmas year before last, Jude and I had a Guys day and we shopped for Roni and Kim. Eventually, we ended up at Wal-Mart and looking at the Angry Birds T-shirts. Jude pointed out they had those new hoodies that looked like superheroes. Before I knew it, I was the proud owner of a gray and black Batman hoodie. It has never really grown on me but its super soft and warm enough to help me navigate my days through the halls of my chilly high school.

            I have been on a kick wearing the Batman hoodie with one of my short sleeve Hawaiian shirts lately. The fleecy feel of the jacket has been quite comfortable as I have been tolerating this bizarre Savannah weather and getting over being sick. Frankly, I never really thought anyone noticed. Today I learned just how wrong I was.

            I have this more profoundly disabled kid in a few of my classes this semester and can see some potential issues so I decided to drop the MID room to let his case manager, Jason, know and possibly plan ahead. There were a few other fellow students in the MID room as I chatted with the teacher. I had barely begun to say anything when I felt the wind almost get knocked out of me and I was in the grips a giant bear hug.

            “I love you, Batman!” was ringing in my ears.

            I have just met our newest autistic student, Michael. He likes Batman. A lot.

            “Michael, let go of Mr. Richardson and go back to your seat,” says Jason. The steel grip does not loosen. I look down and can’t help but start chuckling. Memories of my days of working with Sparrow wood special needs campers begin to flood my memories. I wrap my loose arm around Michael and shoulder hug back. Teacher Robby kicks in.

            “Michael, bud, you gotta let go. Can’t breathe.” I get out. He releases me and still grinning huge. I smile back and respond,” Let’s do this right and like men do, sir.”I offer my hand and introduce myself.

“Hi, I am Mr. Richardson and I teach here. You are?”

“I am Michael and I love superheroes especially Batman!” states Michael with continued enthusiasm.

Still smiling, I say, “Dude, I hear you but first things first. Guys just don’t run up and hug other guys without warning. Guys do hug but they either know each other first or they ask. We cool?” Somewhere in the back of my mind I can hear Ron Balthazar from Sparrow wood teaching the “ask before hugging” rule back at Camp. I laugh to myself.

Michal looks at me trying to figure out if he is in trouble so I am careful to keep smiling. A few long seconds and I and I try to steer the conversation back to my objective.

            “Dude can you give me a minute with the teachers?” and Michael promptly pretends to pass out to my surprise. Jason begins to applaud and mention how the Oscar is going to Michael. I go on about my business and eventually Michael gets up and surprise, joins me.

After I wrap up my teacher business, Michael is not done with me. He has many items to share and we begin a long, awesome conversation regarding more superheroes, web shooters, and a mutual love affair with Wookies. We are both laughing and smiling. I like this kid. A lot.

Bitching about teaching has become a favorite past time these days especially my lack of feeling appreciated. This afternoon reminded me that I don’t have to always feel that way. Sometimes out of the blue, someone or something new can pop into the scene and remind me of my purpose and just what I have to offer. As a teacher, I wear a lot of hats. I am a counselor, scheduler, mediator, listener, cheer leader, traffic conductor, instructor, supervisor, and occasionally and educator. Today, I inadvertently got to fulfill a life-long dream of being a super hero so I guess I get to add that to the list now too.

Who am I?

I’m Batman…..

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