Yesterday had some pretty big stresses at school but a habit I'm intentionally trying to develop is to dwell on the positive instead of the negative. I'm asking myself questions on the way home, like, "What was good today?" "What was funny, moving, important?" You know what? There's always at least one small nugget of light and sweetness.
Yesterday I decided to focus on how one particular student is blossoming. He started at the beginning of the year and came from a country that has experienced some particularly enormous problems and horrors. We noticed right away that he was sensitive and so we've always tried to be especially gentle with him.
We had a practice for a lockdown in the fall and we explained what we were doing to the students; we told them it was practice;we told them they were safe. Yet, he began to tremble and quietly cry when it happened. He covered his face with a notebook so the other kids couldn't see. I sat close to him and patted his back and kept saying, "It's okay; we're safe" over and over. I'm not sure what nightmares he was reliving, but they must have been pretty awful.
Then, we had the Pakistan project- when we wrote the letters to fellow students in Pakistan after the tragedy at the school in their country. Sometimes talking about something difficult that has happened to someone else helps a child share their pain. He got very quiet and very sad when he heard about this tragedy. My colleague gently asked him if something bad happened in his country. He told her yes and that someone in his family who he loved had been killed there. She put her arm around him and told him how sorry she was, how hard that must be, but reminded him that he was safe now. He wrote one of the most touching, beautiful, and heartfelt letters.
In between these moments, there have been a lot of happier moments, though. He loves school, works with a ferocious zeal, smiles a lot, has made a lot of friends, helps everyone. Everyone adores him- he is a joy!
We got a new student recently, not from the same country, but shares one of the same languages. They are the only 2 who have this language. The newest student speaks almost 0 English so we have relied on the first to help us communicate with him. When we ask him to interpret something, he gets really close to the other student and ever so gently explains what needs saying. There's something so sweet and kind about the way he does it. When my colleague and I talk about it, she says, "There's something really special about that boy." I agree.
Lately, I've been noticing how happy he is- not too many dark moments, really thriving. His English is quite good by now and he understands almost everything I say- including my dumb jokes and light teasing :) Yesterday he joked with me, teased ME actually, and it made me so ridiculously happy to see that kind of lightness in him.
The office had just finished making some announcements over the speakers and he called me over to him and said seriously, "Miss, Miss! Did you hear that? They just said that there will be no homework- no homework for one week! Did you hear that, Miss??!!!"
"Really??!!", I said playing along, "Well, that is just amazing! ". Then he started to giggle like crazy and there was a ripple effect. All the kids around him started to laugh and it was just so absolutely wonderful to see, I got a lump in my throat.
Is his journey through the darkness of his past over? No, I know it's not. Probably not even close.
But, is he moving on, turning a corner, blossoming?
Yes, yes, he is. And, I am lucky enough to witness it........