For kids who need to get their wiggles out and release some steam, indoor recess is torture. It’s difficult for everyone who works with kids, too.
“I don’t remember the last time we had a recess outside,” I said once in January. “The kids and teachers are climbing the walls."
It reminds me of one of my favorite jokes, which must have been written during an indoor recess:
Why did the teacher have her eyes crossed?
She couldn’t control her pupils.
After weeks of being inside, Henry made plans. He stayed up late at night to draw. The kid loves art (the only thing he loves more is playing video games), so it never bothered me that he drew after he was kissed goodnight and tucked into bed. Sometimes he appeared in the living room and said, “I just finished drawing Bowser, so now I need to put away my markers.” And just like that, he was back in his room.
One day after school he asked if I wanted to see his Mario collection. One by one, he pulled each figure out of a bright orange shoebox and displayed them. They were two-sided works of art.
“These are really cool,” I said. “They look so much like the video game characters. What are you going to do with them?”
“I’m taking these to school so my classmates who have autism can play Mario during indoor recess,” he replied. “Sometimes a bunch of us play it outside, chasing people around. They both love Mario, just like I do."
“Will you play with them, too?” I asked.
He said he would.
I think at times Henry struggles to find something to do during recess, so he was looking for a solution and a playmate. Bringing a video game to school would be the ultimate indoor recess activity. Because it's forbidden, he had to think outside the box He created his own solution.
“Yeah,” he said. “Some people thought the Mario characters were pretty cool. One of my friends with autism asked if I would be bringing the little Mario Kart people back tomorrow. He just loves them. The other kid who I thought would be interested didn’t really care about them, but others did."
The more he talked, the more evident it became that a group of kids really liked his creations. He was thrilled. So was I.
One of the girls in his class requested that he draw a pink Yoshi, so he did. He wanted to sell it to her but decided against it. He said, "Parents hardly ever give their kids money." I told him she could pay to have it laminated if she wanted it to last longer. That seemed like a fair trade.