I know you must get tired of my teacher stories, and after this one, I promise to find other topics to write about.
There’s this tiny fellow in my room…brilliant, asthmatic, mannerly, kind. He’s so smart he can barely contain the thoughts bouncing through his head. We’ll call him Brown Eyes. Well, today he came in from the playground with a massive pout on his face. I mean this kid was down. I called him over to my desk and asked what was going on. It took all of three seconds for him to burst into sobs – the kind of sobs you can barely speak around. He proceeded to tell me that nobody would play with him, that he’d even asked a few people and they said yes but they all ended up running in different directions.
By this time, he was nestled in for a big hug, his head on my shoulder. The other kids were watching. One little boy slipped up behind him and began to pat his back (this fellow is Blue Eyes). I took the moment to remind the class that we take care of our own, we’re family and nobody gets left out. About this time, Blue Eyes said, “It’s alright, man. Don’t be sad.”
That was all it took…Brown Eyes turned around and threw his arms around Blue Eye’s neck and held on for dear life. Blue Eyes looked at me, startled at first, but then just hugged him back. See….here’s the thing: Blue Eyes is a whole year older than Brown Eyes. He’s seen more, lived longer, and in little boy years, has outgrown innocent shows of affection. Brown Eyes is young, he’s still very innocent. To him, hugging another boy is no big deal. Blue Eyes…he’s already been taught or simply learned through osmosis that guys don’t do that. But here’s what’s awesome – he let Brown Eyes hug him anyway.
Not to be outdone, here come several girls, ready to mother at a moments notice. A few more boys hustled to us. Suddenly, at my desk…at 11:03 on a warm day in September, there was a group of seven or eight kids, arms thrown around each other in the sweetest group hug I’ve ever seen in my life.
Brown Eyes smiled after that.
I shared this story because it was my life-line this week. I’ve been weepy, sad in a way I have a hard time expressing. My heart is achy because I believe my heart may be realizing that the teaching I fell in love with so many years ago doesn’t exist in that form anymore. I ache for what I fear is gone. The teaching I once knew has been replaced by numbers and mandates. What may be the hardest is knowing I’m not a numbers or mandate kind of person…never will be. So when I was at my lowest, that little boy and my huddle of kids…well, they gave me a reason to keep going. Those babies reminded me what I love about teaching…them.