Saturday, May 27, 2006

What I Really Need

There were 36 of them. Each of them was shiny faced and 6 years old. All of them, that is except for one. His face was never shiny. It was always smudged His shirt was wrinkled and unwashed. He had no friends. The kids didn’t want to play with him. He told lies whenever he talked. He didn’t write much. He didn’t seem to care at all about school. He had trouble showing where he kept his heart. It was sad to think he knew such things at only 6 years old.

My heart was torn about this child. I’d look at his dirty blonde hair and think of Oliver Twist. I wished I could make the tiniest difference, but for all of my creativity, I was at a complete loss when it came to this one child.

We were 37 of us that day, as we were every day when we were all at school. It was time to write and so I did. I started a sentence on the chalkboard and they finished it. They wrote in that special language only first graders could read, an alien, lost tongue−First Gradian. Once they wrote what they had to say, each child would come to the front to read what he or she had written down.

The sentence starter on that day was What I really want right now is . . .

I had been looking forward to what the kids would write all morning. I wasn’t in any way let down. I heard stories of circuses, bicycles, parties, and hot air balloons. The room was filled with wonderful dreams. Then came my Oliver Twist, the last to read. I noticed immediately that his paper was clean, his story was short. It was unusual in how neatly written it was, especially for him. I watched from near the window as he read.

All I really want right now is . . . a hug.

He got a hug from me.

Everyone in the room knew a powerful sentence that was.

−me strauss Letting me be


michaelm said...

No words.
A child wallowing in shame is a terrible thing to see.
The world needs more hugs...
You're a special one, Liz.


ME Strauss said...

Hello Michael,
It was a day that I will never forget. I don't think cold ever write a sentence so powerful. Yeah the world needs more hugs.

Michael said...

We never know how we reach people. Seems you had reacehd all along. What a sad story.

Kids should get hugs everyday...

Take Care

...It's a Michaelfest today

ME Strauss said...

Everyday is a Michaelfest around here. I like that about this place. :)

Yeah kids should get hugs every day. I used to hug every 1st grader good bye at the end of every school day. Can't do that now.

Mama Mouse said...

EVEYONE needs a hug every day, but to see a child, so alone and alienated makes you want to cry and just take him in your arms and hug him forever. To be a teacher and be able to do that must be one of the good things in life!

HUGS to you too!

Tired Tunia said...

How sad, it is so hard not to be able to "save" all the sad and neglected know some are just going to slip through the cracks...good luck.

Ned said...

I have a 6-year-old with dirty blond hair and a smudged face (always). His answer to every writing prompt is "Batman" and his pockets are full of worms and dead fish and other things I am afraid to identify.

I like that about him.

ME Strauss said...

Thanks Mama Mouse,
Nothing is,of course, that simple. That was the first time he was ever open to such a thing. I think it was sort of a breakthrough.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Tired Tunia,
What a sad little boy he was, but things changed that day. The other kids started to see him as a person.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Ned,
I smile to read your answer. I would have smiled to hear that answer that day in school too. He wouldn't have had a reason to say that he needed a hug. I would have asked for his BATMAN impersonation. :)

JoyceB said...

you and your little Oliver Twist brought me to tears.

ME Strauss said...

Hello Joyce,
That's kind of how I felt that day, too.

I often think of him still.

Thank you for telling me how you felt. Your comment means a lot to me.