Batman Comes to Waterbury
The first day of summer school began with a bizarre game of shuffleboard yesterday when I scooted a dead bat out of my classroom and across the hall and--oops!--under the door of the room opposite me.
When I let the custodian know about the body in the next room, he said, "He won't be bothering anybody if he's dead." Then he shrugged: "At least the live ones get rid of the flies."
It's funny what doesn't bother you after a while.
Later that morning, I was walking a class through what I had thought was a wildlife-free zone up a flight of stairs and into my classroom when one of the boys straggled behind, fascinated by a bat hanging from the wall above the stairwell. "Miss, there's a bat," he said.
"Alive or dead?" I asked.
"Good for him. He's doing better than the one I found this morning."
"Miss. I want that bat. Can you get him for me? Miss. I want to kill it."
"You can't do that. Not today."
"It's July 6."
"So it's National Be Kind to Bats Day. Can't let you do it."
"Miss. I didn't know about that holiday."
"That's why you're in school, dear: to learn things."
Next day: "Miss. Did you catch the bat for me?"
"No. But we had a long talk. I told him he wasn't safe with you around and he should move on."
"Miss. You didn't. Did you think it was strange I wanted the bat?"
"No. I thought it was strange you wanted to kill the bat."
His final question was a good one. We had been talking about inferences, that dangerous art of drawing conclusions based on what you know and what you see or read. So, what was my inference? Had he made the impression he wanted to make?
"Did you think I would kill it?"
"No." I think you're a boy. "From here on out, I'm calling you Batman."
A rule of thumb in teaching is to start with the kids where they are. It has not been lost on me these past few days that they start where I am, too. I do appreciate their open, willing souls. They lift me up every minute of the day.