It’s that time of year when every kid, teacher, custodian and fraying folder starts crying RECESS. Summer break is breathing hot and heavy on the other side of June 1st and everyone wants to answer the call. Assemblies are restless, teachers are checking their watches and writing workshops slip (skip?)into silliness without even mentioning underwear.
And then there was James. He looked to be maybe 10, a carrot top neatly trimmed, narrow shoulders and a metronome rock. He sucked his fingers and rocked through the assembly and afterwards slid away from his aid to rush the table and grab my idle microphone. His aid came quickly and kindly, “no, no, James, that’s not yours.” She held his hand to lead him to the door of the gymnasium, pausing to talk to a teacher. James was straining at her hand, reaching toward the table. Rocking. I took the microphone over and put it in his moist fingers. He felt it all over, not grabbing, but insistent. After a minute, it was time to return to his class. I took the microphone back and he pointed to his heart, two quick taps and then pointed at the microphone, universal sign language for “give to me.” The aid said, “you already held the microphone, James.” He tapped his heart again and pointed. I held it out for him to stroke again.
His aid finally encouraged him out of the gym as others were coming in for the next show. James followed, lurching and rocking as she held his hand, one more longing look over his shoulder.
Totally non-verbal. Reaching for the magic of that voice maker microphone and taking my heart away in his pocket.