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.