The yellow kickball sits, tantalizingly close to the Four Square court, yet just out of reach. It teases the 9-year olds as they try to somehow coax it down. The red corrugated roof flashes heat, each indentation creating a perfect track for just such a ball, and, perfectly spaced places for it to get stuck.

The roof provides shade for lunchgoers and a cool venue for study. It also happens to be the perfect spot for a wayward four square ball to land. And then sit. And stay.

I hear a ruckus and shade my eyes as I step into the sun. A group of kids crowding, watching G do something rash. He does that, sometimes.

He’s on a chair, on top of a table, banging on the slotted roof. Which might not be a problem normally, except the chair has four skinny legs, precariously balanced atop the blue, slotted table.

And as a teacher, the automatic question comes to mind

what could go wrong?

Years into this gig, the question has become second nature. I envision a sprint across the playground to alert the nurse, the uncomfortable waiting for the paramedics, the dramatic phone call to parents. The tears.

Sometimes this job turns you into a hero.

I tell him to get down.

But my heroics don’t stop there. I wander into my room, grab my hockey stick. It’s not used much here. It feels foreign, weighted, unwieldy today.

I gotta get a regular game going

Today is not for hockey. It’s for four square. And for the kids. And being a hero, I do heroic things.

I sneak under the canopy and begin wiggling the metal. It responds with a satisfying choooooom, chooom. A crowd gathers.

And with gentle coaxing the ball begins to move. The kids are transfixed, providing a detailed play by play and guidance.

to the left! over! keep going! to the right! it’s rolling!

As I tap, they get louder, The ball is coming.

And, finally, a roar of triumph and the ball is back on the playground.

You did it!

They high five and rush off to get the game restarted.

And today, for a brief moment, to these kids,

I’m a hero.

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. I love this story! Your line, “What could go wrong?” makes me laugh- can’t tell you how many times I have lived a similar scenario! But then you helped the kids solve it! And became a hero! WooHoo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Feels good to be a hero! I feel like I was there the whole time, watching the impatience but hope of the students until finally… another fantastic post- thanks


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