Monday, November 19, 2007

Ryan Who?

In honor of NaBloPoMO, I'll be attempting to post something every day in November. If you're not checking in every day, make sure you're catching all the posts!

(Slight explanation for this post: I'm a classroom aide at a school program for emotionally disturbed children. The classes are small - I have 6 kids right now though trust me, it often feels like 30 - and I think that makes for a more casual, hands-on relationship between the students and the staff. Just wanted to clarify that since people sometimes seem a little perplexed when I start talking about work because it's not really that much like a regular public school. Also, for the record, all the kids' names below have been changed due to confidentiality.)

Most of my students don't know the first thing about the Buffalo Sabres. Every couple of years I get one who watches hockey, but for the most part, they know very, very little. A lot of them don't have cable, they don't read the newspaper, and they don't have male figures in their day-to-day lives. (Not that mothers can't pass on a love of sports because hello! woman writing this sentence right now... but having a dad around helps, you know?) They generally know a couple of names, Ryan Miller being the primary one, but that's about it. The group I have this year is particularly unknowledgeable and not very sporty. Toward the beginning of the year one of them said to me, "Ryan Miller is my favorite! I love when he scores those goals!" (This kid is a total know-it-all who firmly believes that he's right about everything. When I pointed out that Ryan Miller is the goalie and has, as far as I know, never scored a goal, he said, "Well, he could score a goal if he wanted to, right?" When I said, "Yeah, I guess," he crossed his arms and nodded satisfactorily.)

The one thing I have noticed over the years though is that the kids quickly pick up on the fact that I love hockey and go out of their way to try and talk to me about it. It's cute really. Part of the reason most of them are in our program is because they don't know how to interact appropriately with other people so I find the whole "I don't care about this but I know you do so let's talk about it" aspect of the conversations to be very endearing. Every morning someone asks me if the Sabres won last night (even when they didn't play) and evidently they caught on to the ongoing theme for this season because when I said no, they'd ask, "Well, did they atleast play well?" They'll ask who scored, who we played, all that stuff, and they do occasionally seem to really soak up some information.

Last year there was a long stretch of the season where Tim Connolly seemed to cease to exist. He re-signed with the team before the season started and then fell off the face of the earth. I was secretly convinced that he was dead and the team just hadn't revealed it yet. So when I picked up the newspaper one day and saw a little picture of Tim at the top of the front page, I squealed. Alan, whose desk was right beside mine, asked what was going on so I explained how Timmy had been hurt during the playoffs pretty seriously, and how he'd missed so much time, and how I hadn't seen or heard him in months, and how he was one of my favorites so I was just really excited to see him in a hockey uniform and hear him finally talking about coming back. Alan nodded in slight interest and turned back to what he was doing. But at the end of the day he gave me this:

Seriously, how cute is that? (Margee, I apologize. I didn't think Alan would get the whole "Margee has dibs on Timmy" thing.)

Anyway, the one thing they never really seem to get is Henrik Tallinder. They'll ask me over and over and over who my favorite player is but they can't remember him. I don't know if they're just asking the question to ask it and not really listening to the answer or if it's not a name they hear much otherwise or if they have a hard time with it not being an American sounding name or what. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when Jake, who I've had for two years now, leaned over my shoulder the other day, pointed at a picture on my desk and said, "Hey, it's Henrik Tallinder!" No hesitation, no question, and perfect pronunciation which is more than some professionals can pull off.

"How'd you know that?"
"He's number 10, right?"
"Yeah, but how'd you know that?"
:::massive eye-rolling::: "Geez, Heather, you only talk about him ALL THE TIME."
"Do you know any other Sabres?"
"... Nah."

So there you go. I have helped create the only 12-year-old boy in the city of Buffalo who can pick Henrik Tallinder out of a line-up and not say, Ryan Miller. My work with Jake is clearly complete.

(I promise some "real" hockey content tomorrow. I spent all my non-working time in bed today due to a killer cold and I'm trying desperately not to get sick for my upcoming long weekend.)


RJ said...

I still think that is the best picture of Timmy ever. That facial hair is just epic.

Heather B. said...

RJ, that facial hair kills me, it's so ridiculous. I can't believe it's on the new mural at the arena. I hope Timmy cringes every time he sees it.

Kate said...

Heather, this is such a great story!

Margee said...

I think I'm going to have to have a talk with this kid...

Seriously, though, so cute.