At last, I’ve found a productive way to spend time with my mentee. I think so anyway, more or less. At minimum, I can bond with Ernie more effectively now. I’ll also be able to give his imagination a more positive outlet than the cheating and lying to which he usually directs it. I only hope the school’s administrators agree that my method’s upsides outweigh its downsides.
At today’s mentoring session, I learned of Ernie’s fixation with battling teachers. It’s an idea he unfortunately obtained from me, last month, when I inadvertently let my thoughts slip at the book fair. As the boy informed me, he and his friends have spent the intervening days rating the school’s faculty for death matches against each other. The kids have embellished reality too, by envisioning special abilities for all combatants.
I asked Ernie how he and his buddies planned to apply their concept, and he shrugged. That’s when I proposed: “Why don’t you make a game out of it? In fact, why don’t we design it together when I see you each week?” As I suggested, we could put together a map based on the school layout and have the teachers fight for control of the classrooms and hallways. The teachers would have their own avatars on the map board and would move around the board seeking out other faculty members to destroy. Also, each teacher would have one or more extraordinary powers which Ernie and I would convert into attack and defense values.
He loved the idea and said he had “tons of ideas,” all of which he’d begin sharing next week. In the meantime, he’s already drawn something which I believe will work perfectly as the game’s first avatar. His sketch depicts a giant blob of a creature possessing Tyrannosaurus Rex-like claws, and venomous snakes growing from its head. The monster’s name is “Ms. M” – as in Ms. McDaniel, his teacher.
I first saw Ernie’s sketch when I picked him up from his classroom, before we began discussing the new game. Ms. McDaniel herself showed it to me. As I learned from her, Ernie wouldn’t say exactly what it depicted, but he admitted to obtaining the idea from his mentor. Luckily for me, the lad hadn’t written in the creature’s name below its picture, so I could honestly tell her I had no idea what he meant.
Of course, I now know the subject of Ernie’s drawing, and I’ll no longer be able to claim ignorance if asked further questions about the boy’s doodles. Yet even if Ms. McDaniel doesn’t say another word to me on the subject, I realize it’s only a matter of time until she or some other teacher learns about Ernie’s new game, “Rockem Sockem Teachers,” and his “partner” in the enterprise. That’s when I’ll undoubtedly hear all about the downsides of my mentoring program.