I was subbing for an elementary school P.E. coach’s sidekick. The first half of class was walking laps outside around the baseball diamond. While the coach watched sitting on an upside down bucket with his speaker phone, I walked the laps. I thought my walking might inspire the kids to walk or run and not hide behind a tree to get out of the exercise. With my gray hair, the kids think I’m the same age as Old Father Time.
A 1st-grade girl came up and took my hand. Unlike me, the girl didn’t have a problem starting and carrying on a conversation. We had an unspoken deal. She did most of the talking and I did most of the listening.
She had a good reason for wanting to talk. Her Grandpa passed away just 2 days earlier. It wasn’t so much sadness I heard in her voice but curiosity. Perhaps it was her first encounter with the death of a loved one. He had strokes and as she put it, “he just died”. She didn’t even know he was in the hospital until after he had passed away. She had observed that her Grandma still had his clothes. Other than telling her I was sorry about his passing, I just listened. She just needed someone to talk to and that someone that day was me.
She didn’t want to go off and play in the playground as the other kids did when finishing their last lap. She couldn’t hold up as long as some of the other kids because of her asthma. It does get in her way sometimes. It is routine for her to use the asthma inhaler as soon as she gets home from school. She said pretty much her whole family had asthma.
I told her I had Asperger’s. The word wasn’t familiar to her and I didn’t go into details about it. She said she can’t run as much as her friends without wearing out. I told her sometimes I am not up to being with people. She said sometimes asthma gets her out of doing stuff she doesn’t want to do such as strenuous activities. I told her Asperger’s sometimes gets me out of going to parties.