I don't know what this creature is called, but it never leaves Charlie's side (see When Middle School Boys Plan Vacations for more background) . This little man goes everywhere with him; an extension of Charlie, often resulting in his getting in trouble for not paying attention in class. However, if Charlie does not have his action figure, his emotions become extremely fragile. Every day is an emotional struggle for Charlie; he is often in distress, and it somehow goes better when his action figure is in his hand or pocket. It's as though this powerful character is personally responsible for Charlie's mental health.
One dreary day recently, I decided to turn off all of the fluorescent lights in my classroom and turn on the warm glow of a table lamp in order to change the "mood" of my room and to help me focus on some work I needed to get done during my prep period. The change in lighting calmed me and helped me hole up in the corner at my desk.
I don't have a lot of time in the school day to get my work done, so when Charlie showed up, unannounced and five minutes early to class, I was mildly annoyed. So, when he asked if he could "draw something" on the overhead, I said yes. (Charlie's second favorite activity is drawing.)
I hit "send" on the final email and finally turned to address Charlie, who had busied himself at the overhead. Here is what I saw.... I was struck by the artistic effect Charlie had created, but moved even further by the words in the bubble:
"I love it here."
I almost cried.