My Turn

Yesterday I took Nate to school. (Read about Karen’s experience here:

Nate likes to run across campus, dragging his heavy blue backpack. He says, “It makes my body better,” meaning that he believes he’s shedding pounds. I’m somewhat doubtful of that. Knowing that I didn’t know my way around the grounds, so he checked his desire to sprint off. He did choose to park in the visitors’ lot, which was the furthest distance from Warner Hall. My body did not feel better after the long walk.

At class, I asked Nate where the bathroom was. To my utter shock, he didn’t walk me there. Very casually he pointed me down the hall, said “there it is,” and strolled into Room 18, sloughing off his backpack as he walked. When I returned, he was already seated in front of the computer, checking the Disney Channel website but positioned like a student. He had his iPad to his right.

When I took Nate to tour the SUNY-Cobleskill campus back in the fall of 2008, Professor Margrethe Lauber, who would go on to be Nate’s teacher and adviser, brought us to a computer lab. There, watching Nate watching the students, I knew, deep down and with 100% assurance, that Nate could do this work. I found myself back in what may have been the very same room, sitting next to Nate as he was, in fact, doing the same work he’d witnessed 3 1/2 years ago.

Unlike the first days of his college career, when I nervously sat behind him in College Algebra and tried to prevent every bit of odd behavior and talking to himself, I wasn’t stressed in the least. It was a laid back, unstructured class, which helped, but also because he’s at the end of the line. It’s the home stretch, why be concerned? Plus, he’s obviously a good student, paying as much attention as any other kid and asking, and answering, questions as did his work.

Sure, he’s got a bit of the whiny, eccentric artist to him, complaining when the teacher gave him some suggestions. “I don’t want to do that,” or, when she asked where certain work went, “I deleted that on purpose,” or “I did that akshidentally.” I laughed a bit, and touched his left arm if I thought he needed to pull back on his commentary. Fact is, he’s way ahead with two weeks to go.

The professor kept putting different artists/designers work on the screen and focused on Mary Blair. I’d never heard of her, but she did do time as a Disney artist. When a slide for Suzy The Little Blue Coupe appeared, and the teacher said she’d never heard of that, Nate chimed in that it was celebrating its 60th anniversary and that it was a short cartoon. Right in his wheelhouse!

The teacher noted that Blair’s work is like Nate’s and told him she was an influence.

“What’s an influence?” I explained it to him.

Our friend Lynne was telling me how much she likes Nate’s Facebook posts, that he comes across so clearly and grammatically correct. She rarely has that kind of verbal interaction with him. And it’s true. With each day, in different settings, Nate is more and more just one of the gang.

Afterwards we had lunch at Pizza Shack, where Nate ordered two slices of chicken and pasta pizza. Treating it like two separate courses, he ate the toppings with a knife and forke and then picked up the denuded pizza slices. Typical Nate – you only eat chicken and pasta with utensils and you don’t eat pizza that way.



About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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