Thursday, March 29, 2012

Love Made Visible

One of my students from last year came by my classroom today, a tiny white box in his tiny brown hand. He smiled, just a little, and offered me the box.

"What's this?" I asked, honestly confused. It isn't any holiday I'm aware of. He's not even in my class anymore.

"It's a present. Open it."

When you're a teacher, you get lots of presents from little kids. I go home with pockets full of dried up dandelions, each given with love. It really is the thought that counts. But when I opened the box, I found an honest-to-God present. It was so nice, I wondered if maybe he slipped it out of his mother's jewelry box when she wasn't looking.

"But . . . what's this for?" I asked.

"Because you were my teacher last year." He was so matter-of-fact about it you'd think teachers get presents from all their old students every day.

As I hugged him, I remembered how challenging he was last year, how many times he blew up with rage and frustration, how many times he ran out of the classroom and had to be dragged back in. I remembered all those times I had to hold him and reassure him that everything was okay. "I love you," I'd whisper. "You're safe here."

He seemed to need more TLC than most children. I was willing to give it.

I didn't even know he noticed.