“Run, run, as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man.”

When Nathan recited this I realized in whose presence I’ve always been. Nathan is an autistic kindergartner who bolts from his class and shows up at my door wanting to play. I teach in an RSP classroom where we help kids who are having trouble in reading and math. Nathan has trouble staying in his class, I think, because it is noisy and very crowded. He needs a break so just walks out. Sometimes I claim that public schools are the only places for kids like him, but Nathan’s mother thinks differently and hopes to enroll him in non-public school for autistic children. In his case, she might be right. Sometimes Nathan seems to be hallucinating, stomping at creatures that don’t exist. I can’t help him with that. And I can’t get him into a quieter classroom.

So he runs.

I looked up The Gingerbread Man fairy tale and learned that GM is the son of elderly parents, that he is a fast runner, and only gets caught when a fox tricks him into ferrying him across a river.

GM thought he is a man and so does Nathan. Where ever Nathan ends up, I hope he keeps running, avoids rivers and does not trust any foxes. Because I never want to hear that he is a quarter of the way, half of the way, all the way gone.

 

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