Up, up and away!

“Friedhelm!  Stop that!” The eleven-year old Korean boy briefly looked up and smiled.  Then he went back to pounding the student next to him.  To be fair, the student getting pounded on was giving as good as he was getting.  Erin sighed and shook her head.

“Sam, would you go… I don’t know… step on him or something?”

I walked over and stood over his desk.  Friedhelm and the other boy looked up… then up… then up some more.  Their expressions became nervous.

“Okay, now everyone, let’s get back to work on your superheroes!” Erin said.

Erin was trying to teach the kids something about the phrase “I can…”  It had seemed natural to use caped crusaders.  I mean, the image of superman and the caption “I can fly” was guaranteed to get attention.  They were working on a project to make up their own superhero.  They were supposed to draw their hero and come up with a few powers.  I even drew one as inspiration for them.

It should have been easy. Instead, it was pandemonium.  Several small children danced off to one side, apparently taking the project as a cue to act out their superhero fantasies.  A gaggle of girls at the back whispered and occasionally gave me odd looks right before erupting in giggles.  A group of boys at the front stared at me in open, frank awe.  One of them waived me over.

“Teacher, teacher!"


“당신은 거대한 있습니까?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

The boy laughed and smiled.  His friend leaned over and said, “당신의 머리는 아주 반짝입니다!”

“Okay.”  I smiled and nodded.

On the other side of the room, Erin was giving a pair of boys a very tired look.

“Erase it.”

“It is throwing stars!  Wotcha, wotcha!”

“Whatever Charlie, erase it.  Now.” Erin said with finality.

He protested, but began erasing furiously.  I looked a question at Erin as she wandered past, monitoring the class.

“They decided to make their heroes anatomically correct.  Then they tried to convince me they had actually drawn throwing stars.” She shuddered.

It was chaos.  A small child shrieked past, holding up his super hero and making whooshing noises.  Girls were shouting and screaming.  Boys were pounding on each other, the desks, and themselves.  It was like visiting the monkey house at the zoo, seconds before feeding time.

Later, after the students had gone and Erin and I were alone, she gave a grateful sigh.

“They were really good today.  They must have liked you.”

“They were… they were good?”

“Umm, very much!”

I paused a beat. “Good lord!” I said it with sincerity.

She smiled, “You should see them on a bad day.”

“You are exceptionally brave.”

“No, no!” Erin replied.

“No, really. You are far braver than any superhero.”

She gave me an exasperated look, “Thank you for frightening Friedhelm, by the way.  It is impossible to get him to stop being… I don’t know… himself.  I should bring you in more often. ”


“How about tomorrow?” she asked coyly.