Friday, January 28, 2011

Paint Myself a New Door

You know, in cartoons, when the character gets into a tight spot and he paints himself a door through which to escape? I've always envied that ability. Painting's not my thing though, so this post is my attempt to paint my way out of my dark mood.

I think my last two posts speak for themselves about the mood I've been in. Unfortunately, that mood has been compounded by one of my students. I'm going to refer to this student as the Hulk. He grows angry, turns green, and rips through walls and things. Lately the Hulk seems to be in a permanent Hulk state. To make matters worse, the Hulk appears to be the head of his household, so dealing with the Hulk's parents is like dealing with an extension of the Hulk. One of my favorite co-workers, likes to refer to the phenomenon of difficult children with difficult parents as Apple-Tree-Syndrome. That would be an apt term for this situation.

I could go on about the Hulk for a while, and how I might have to become Wonderwoman and channel my Amazonian power to defeat him, but I digress. My purpose tonight was to paint myself a door--not to go on about the laundry list of things I am not to thrilled with about my job right now.

So, instead of writing about the Hulk, I am writing about Bob tonight.

When I first met Bob, at Meet-the-Teacher, I literally couldn't understand a word he said. I found out that he had just come out of a self-contained classroom and I secretly went home that night and cried because I didn't know how to teach someone with that level of special need.

I didn't know then that Bob would make every day brighter for me. As a teacher, you don't expect your students to do that, but that is just who Bob is. When I first met Bob, all I saw was the academic deficits I have been trained to recognize, but I didn't see Bob's gift. He makes you feel better. He has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. I can't explain his gift, but I will try to describe it.

*Whenever anyone, child or adult, says "hello" to Bob or acknowledges him in any way, he acts like that person just gave him a million dollars.

*If anyone, including me, is having a rough day, Bob will bring them a picture of them. Sometimes we're super heroes and sometimes we're all just happy, but in Bob's pictures we all look great.

*When Bob reads a word or gets a question right, I think the heavens smile down on him. When he gets something right, my class spontaneously erupts into genuine applause, and this started without my doing anything to start it. When Bob gets something right, you just want to cheer for him.

*Bob smiles all the time. All the time.

A lot of my young scholars this year are about to drive me crazy. They have some of the most difficult personalities of any students I have ever worked with. There are about eight of them, and the crazy eight get under each other's skin too. You know what, though, Bob likes every one of them. There are some kids that are difficult for me to like this year, but they are not difficult for Bob to like.

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