One Child–Two Moments

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hLast month as I walked down the hallway to pick my students up from lunch, X swirled like a dervish down the hall.

“Mrs. Hogan! Mrs. Hogan!” he cried.

“X,” I said, “What’s up? Why aren’t you at lunch?”

“But there are chicks!” he cried. “You have to see!” He grabbed me by the arm, tugging me toward a nearby room.

“Ok! Ok!” I said, laughing and moving into the room.

He pulled me over to the incubator. “Look! This one just got out! Oh! This one’s all fluffy now! ” He pointed. “And here’s a beak over here! Do you see it? Do you see it? Right here!” He pointed again.

He warbled with excitement and practically danced up and down, moving around the incubator, peering in from different angles.

“Aren’t they cute?” he asked, beaming from ear to ear.

We admired the chicks together for a minute or two. X chattered on, sharing all the changes that had occurred since he’d last visited them, apparently on the way in from recess. I finally had to drag us both away to get on with the day.

About 45 minutes earlier on the way to recess, X had shuffled along beside me.

“My dad had to get a new chip,” he said. “He has to start again.” He looked up at me and paused. “He didn’t stay clean and serene.”

“Oh, X, I’m so sorry,” I said, at a loss for words, knowing his father had just returned from six weeks of rehab. I took a deep breath and muttered some more inadequate words of encouragement–something about every day being a new day and his dad having lots of support. Stupid empty words. My heart ached.

We neared the door to the playground, and he looked down at his hand, revealing a small object.

“Why’d I bring this?” he wondered aloud. “I don’t want to lose it outside.”

“I can put it in your cubby,” I volunteered, thankful to be able to do something concrete to help this child.

He dropped the object in my palm and headed outside to recess. I looked down at the item in my hand. It was a small, white, plastic keychain. On one side it was emblazoned with shiny gold letters. NA. Narcotics Anonymous. I turned it over and read the motto.  “One day at a time.”

For a brief moment my hand clenched fiercely on that keychain. I felt its edges dig into my palm. I wanted nothing more than to hurl it down the long hallway and out the front doors. I imagined the force of my throw sending it blazing through the air far away from the school, far away from X, far away from all these innocent children.

Instead, I walked back to the classroom and carefully put it into X’s cubby.

The first thing he did when returning to the classroom was to check that it was there, waiting for him.

Unfortunately, I think it always will be.


13 thoughts on “One Child–Two Moments

  1. dmsherriff says:

    I have tears in my eyes and I share your sentiments. Your slice exudes joy and burns with disappointment. My prayers go out to X and his dad. He is lucky to have a teacher like you that he can talk to and with! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. margaretsmn says:

    There are new baby chicks poking their heads from the eggs. New Life. New hope. Your story drew me in and touched my heart. You were there to offer a kind ear and to celebrate new life. What an honor to teach these little people every day.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Christine says:

    Oh how we get attached to our children. Your post is touching me deeply as I have a students that clings to me with similar concerns. We just keep smiling on and being there for them!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great that X had a person like you he trusted and who listened. These are the moments that make teachers so valuable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This slice is so bittersweet and lovely I can hardly stand it. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. elsie says:

    My heart breaks for kids like X who have to live through an unimaginable life. May he always have someone there, who will hold him close when he needs comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amanda Potts says:

    May he continue to find moments of joy, moments of learning, moments of purpose as he grows. May he find others, like you, who will carry his burdens for a moment and keep them in a safe place so that he can be free to play for a little while. Thank you for sharing this – what a reminder to us all of the multitudes we contain within us.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Debbie Lynn says:

    Reading this was emotional. I love Amanda’s comment, too. We can barely imagine the troubles some of our sweet young students deal with outside the classroom

    Liked by 1 person

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