Me Just As I Am

Me Just As I Am


“Why don’t you go out and play?” said Luke’s mom.  

“I don’t want to.  I’m happy here reading my book,” replied Luke.

“Those kids are in the street playing baseball,” said Luke’s mom.  “Why don’t you go join them?”

“I don’t want to,” said Luke.  

“But you should get to know them,” continued his mom.

“I already KNOW them, mom.  I go to school with them,” he said.  “I’m happy reading in my room.”


“Luke, please go outside!” she snapped at him.  “At least try to have fun with them.  Maybe you’ll like it!”

“Ugh, fine,” answered Luke.  “I’ll go outside but I’m bringing my book.”


He walked out onto the front steps and sat down.  Jimmy from down the block saw him and shouted, “Hey Luke, you want to play?  We’re short a player.  Need someone on 3rd base.” 

“Ah, no thanks,” yelled back Luke.   “I’m just going to sit here and watch.” 

“Come on man, we need someone on Third,” begged Jimmy.  “They’re creaming us.”   

“Fine,” replied Luke, “but I’m telling you that I’m no good at this.”  He tucked a bookmark into the book and left it on the stoop. 

Mark threw him a spare mitt.    

“Just catch the ball if it comes to you and tag out the runner,” instructed Mark. 

Luke shook his head and stood by third base. 

Luckily the first few balls were hit off toward first and second base side.  But then the next up to bat sent a ball directly toward third base.  Luke reached for it, but it went way over his mitt and landed in the grass a few yards away.  He just stood there watching it fly in the air.  Mark saw him not moving so he ran after it and tossed it back to Jimmy on the pitching mound. 

Even though Luke didn’t want to continue playing, he stayed put by third base.  He didn’t want to leave them short a player.

After an hour the boys took a break.  “You’re getting better Luke,” said Jimmy.     

“And you’re really good,” replied Luke.  You’re batting average is  .400 and your pitching is even better.”

“Man, you can calculate that off the top of your head?” asked Mark.       

““I am always calculating things in my head,” said Luke.  It’s just natural for me.”

“Wow!” said the other boys in unison.

“Well, you should come out and play with us more often,” said Jimmy.  “With some practice, you could be good, too.  We’re out here playing all the time, you can join us anytime.”      

“Thanks but I’m content on my own,” explained Luke.  “I’ll see you at school.” 

He walked back to his stoop and started reading again.   


The following week after school, Luke saw Mark angrily hitting a ball against a wall.  Luke tried to walk by without being seen.    

“Hey Luke.”  

“Hey Mark.” 

“I’m so mad,” said Mark.

Not sure what to do or how to respond, Luke, just stood there and waited to see if Mark would continue or if he could keep walking home.  

But Mark continued, “If I don’t get my math grades up, I won’t be able to stay on the baseball team.” 

“That stinks,” replied Luke, looking at the ground. 

“Sure does.  I love baseball,” said Mark.  “I do my homework, but I just don’t get math.”   

“Huh huh,” replied Luke, pretending like he understood.”  But honestly, Luke loved math.  Loved to figure out problems, loved to analyze different possible answers to problems.  Loved all of it. 

“Say, I remember when you played ball with us you could tell us our batting averages without even using a pen and paper.  What do think about helping me with math?” asked Mark. 

“I don’t think so Mark. I’m not a teacher,” said Luke.     

“Come on man, I really need your help!” begged Mark.  “Please! Baseball means everything to me.”

“Ugh, fine,” replied Luke.  “Meet me at my house in an hour and we’ll see if I can help you.” 

Finally able to walk away, Luke rushed the last few blocks until he reach his front stoop.  Then he sat on the front stoop and finished his book. 

Math books in hand, an hour later, Mark followed Luke into the house  and sat down at the kitchen table to work on their homework.  Luke turned out to be an excellent teacher and Mark came back every afternoon to do homework together.  Finally he started understanding math more and more. 


A few weeks later, Mark invited Luke to his birthday party down at the arcade. 

“You’re going to go, aren’t you Luke?” inquired his mother. 

“Nah, I don’t think so,” said Luke.

“But it was so nice of him to ask you,” said his mom.  “You can hang out with the other kids.”

“I know but I don’t want to,” snapped Luke.

“Why not? You love going down to the arcade,” argued his mom.

“Yah, but I like going by myself,” explained Luke.   

“Just go, you’ll have a good time,” said his mom.  

To make his mom leave him alone, he pedaled down to the arcade.  Before walking in, he took a deep breath and prepared himself to hang out. 

Inside the other kids were already playing games. 

After tossing a small basketball into a hoop and scoring the highest points, Mark saw Luke.  “Hey, Luke, thanks for coming.” 

“Come shoot some hoops with us,” Mark said as he turned to head back to the basketball game. 

Luke stood watching for a few minutes but then walked off to another area to play his favorite arcade game.

He played for about an hour and then slipped out the door and rode his bike back home. 

“Did you have a good time?” asked his mom. 

Luke thought of playing his favorite game, not about the party and replied, “yah, I had fun.”   

“See! I knew you’d have a good time! If you just let yourself loose more often, you might have more friends.” 

“Ugh mom, I like me to just as I am,” he replied and climbed the stairs to his bedroom. 

The next day was Sunday.  His mom and dad were both home and kept telling him to go outside and play with Mark and Jimmy.  Luke walked outside to get his parents to leave him alone but he had no intention of playing baseball. 

“Hey Luke, you wanna play?” asked Mark.

“No thanks,” said Luke.   

He hopped on his bike and rode aimlessly down to the park.  There he leaned his bike up against a tree and sat down on a bench and began to read. 

After a while he noticed an old man sitting nearby at one of the park’s four stone chess tables.  An hour went by but no one came to sit down at the chess table with him.  

Luke put his book in his backpack and started walking his bike toward home.  As he passed the old man staring at the table, he said, “I guess your friend is really late.” 

“No, he’s not coming,” said the old man. 

“Oh,” said Luke.  “Then why are you still sitting here?”

“Because my friend and I used to meet here every Sunday until he got sick,” said the old man.  “Now I just come out of habit.”

“You know anything about chess, kid,” asked the old man.

“No, I’ve wanted to learn but my dad doesn’t know anything about chess,” said Luke. 

“You want me to teach you?” asked the old man.

“I don’t know,” said Luke.  “I like being by myself.” 

“Perfect,” said the old man.  “I’m the same way.” 

“I’m Leo,” said the man. “We can play but we don’t have to talk much.  You show up on Sundays at 10am and I’ll teach you chess.” 

“Hmm, ok. I guess I could try it,” said Luke. 

“Sit down kid.  I’m ready to give you your first lesson,” said Leo. 

Knowing that if he went home his parents would just shoo him outside to play with the boys on the block, Luke leaned his bike up against a nearby tree and sat down. 


As Leo organized the chess pieces, he said, “So tell me about yourself.”    

“I like to read,” said Luke.  “And I like to invent things.” 

“Invent things, ehe? Like what?” asked Leo. 

“Anything really,” said Luke.  “I see a problem and I try to solve it.”

“Good thing you told me that.  Now I know my competition is going to be tough on this chess board.  It’s all about seeing the different possibilities,” explained Leo. 

And Leo began to teach Luke the basics of chess. 

Every now and then Leo would ask something about school or home or friends and Luke would answer. 

Three hours later, both hungry and tired, Leo and Luke called it quits for the day.    

“Luke, we’re going to make good chess partners.  I understand you like to be by yourself.  I always did, too, until I met my wife.   Happened gradually I guess, but then I couldn’t be without her.  We didn’t have to talk much but we enjoyed each other’s company.”   Leo put a hand on Luke’s shoulder and said, “You’re going to be fine just as you are Luke.  Be true to yourself but keep yourself open to the right possibilities and you’ll be fine just as you are.” 

“Thanks Leo.”

“But you better show up next Sunday morning.  I can already tell you’re a quick learner and you’ll be good competition for me…eventually,” teased Leo.   

Leo walked away carrying the chess box and Luke headed home on his bike.


When he arrived home, his mom asked, “where have you been all day?” 

“At the park,” said Luke.

“Alone?” asked his mom.

Luke smiled to himself, “No, I met a friend.”

And with that he began to climb the stairs to his bedroom and said to himself, “and he doesn’t make me play sports or run around or even have fun.  He’s OK with me just as I am.” 


Back of the Book Questions:

Is there a subject in school that is hard for you? Like math is hard for Mark. 

Is there a subject in school that is easy for you? Like math is for Luke.

Do you like to make friends?

Do you like you’re alone time?