One day, I found a pile of Newspaper Activity Sheets in the classroom shelf.
These were cartolina-sized papers with a layout akin to a newspaper, only that it got boxes and lines to fill in, such as The _______ Times. It also asked interesting questions like What is Your Happiest Experience? My 7-year-old student, Ben, loved reading and writing, so I figured that this newspaper activity would be perfect for him.
We settled ourselves in a corner, then Ben began working. He read the questions to me and thought out loud. He filled the boxes with words and illustrations. I helped him read and spell some words. “This is fun,” he uttered, not really to me but to himself. I was glad.
We went to the next box.
Who is Your Hero? It asked.
“So who is your hero, Ben?” I noticed that the question made him think hard.
“Who is my hero? Hmmm… Can it be a superhero?” Ben said, tapping his chin with the pen’s tip.
“Well, it could be a superhero. Anyone you like from Avengers or X-Men?”
“Well… Hmmm,” tap-tap-tap, “Who is this superhero who eats chocolate sandwich for lunch?”
I didn’t know Ben would notice such detail in superhero movies. He must really cared about what superheroes eat. I didn’t know the answer to this, but I imagined one superhero who would probably eat chocolate sandwich.
“Is it Antman?”
“Wait, does Antman eat chocolate sandwich for lunch?”
“Maybe? Well, he might like sweets, don’t you think?”
“Hmmm. It’s not Antman. Let’s see… Who is this superhero who eats chocolate sandwich for lunch?”
I put a finger on my chin, mimicking Ben’s thinking stance. I had no idea who this superhero was, so I more like waited for Ben to remember who this could be.
“Oh, it’s me.”
I suddenly remembered what Ben’s lunchbox always contained every lunch break — it was a chocolate sandwich. I laughed, and Ben looked at me, smiling.
I admit, I contemplated on it that evening. Ben didn’t think that he was Batman or Superman or Captain America. He was his own superhero. He was Ben. No cape, no superpowers. Just Ben, eating a chocolate sandwich for lunch.
Until today, a smile spreads in my face every time I remember it. Do I, his teacher, see myself as a superhero? And what wonders can such self-perception bring me…or Ben?