Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience
Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?
Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.
Whilst twenty-nine sets of eyes face the front, attentive; one set of almond-green eyes sparkle and dance, fixated on an illusory picture show of magic and wonder. As the group engages in the classroom discussion; she occupies herself with unicorns and ponies, Powerpuff girls and Pokémon. As the children raise their hands in response to a question; she raises her brow in an astonished response to her heroin’s fanciful defeat.
I don’t know to where her vivid imagination transports her – only that her sweet, animated face radiates with contentment every time. It seems a shame to interrupt her reverie, to bring her back to the mundane.
Humour helps. Anything remotely comical will capture her attention and have her utterly gripped until it’s over. She loves all things yucky, and sticky and downright absurd. If you’d like her to count – count with pretend bogies made of play dough; if you want her to subtract – pretend to eat those bogies!!! If you need her to write a story – let her choose her own heroes and villains, and if she asks if it’s ok to kill off her arch enemy using ‘an epic fart blast!’ – say: “Yes! A trump gun is a fantastic idea! Now can you describe to me how horrific the stench was?!”
Her classic one liners often have the classroom doubled up with laughter. It’s her way of injecting fun into an otherwise boring topic. During a persuasive language lesson, when asked:
“How can we persuade Stoic not to kill the dragons?” Her response was:
“Beat him up!”
“Well, I’m not too sure we should be condoning violent behaviour…” And to that, her eyes twinkled as she replied sweetly;
“Not even a little kick?”
She loves all things magical and all things funny. There is often an empty seat where she should be sat. She can usually be found hidden in the book corner, immersed in a book, or skipping around the room, her eyes bright, her smile ignited with the joy that her private adventures bring.
It isn’t easy for her to express how she feels, this makes it hard for her to connect with her classmates on that deeper, personal level. Despite finding it hard to engage in social interactions, it is a task she is faced with daily, especially since the other children are so fascinated by her quick wit and humour, they want nothing more than to be her best friend. She finds this overwhelming. She becomes frustrated and loses her temper, often doing or saying the wrong thing. Afterwards, she becomes caught in a landslide of worry and regret; “What if they never forgive me?” “What if they hate me?” “But what if?” At times, there is just no consoling her. Of course, they always forgive, unlike adults, children rarely hold grudges for long.
One day, I asked: “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?” Her reply?
“The power to make friends.”
She says I am her best friend. I am, in fact, her teacher. But in truth, she is the one teaching me – teaching me to see the world through the eyes of a child who lives with autism.