He was my favorite
I’ve always maintained that it’s perfectly all right to have favorites
Just so long as you don’t “play favorites.”
He was my favorite!
The same was true for his Fourth Grade teacher, my friend.
He was awesome in his responsibility
So wise for such a young child
A gift that came from being over-exposed
At such a young age
Others in the school spoke that
He was responsible for meals, his younger sister.
He was only eleven.
This won’t be a sad story
One that layers stroke after stroke of strife and hardship
There was enough of that there.
In that space and time…
Every year, as a gift, God grants me one child who gets my jokes
Who understands irony
Who by mid-year can speak on my behalf because they understand the look on my face, in my posture.
That was D.
He was my God-gift
I remember working with him one-on-one when I had started the others in groups.
They began to flood me with questions.
It had become a distraction
He was working so hard, to work with me.
“That’s okay, Miss Patterson. You can teach them. They need you.”
“No, but I’m here for you.” It was a plea.
And I needed help.
I was learning quickly, but not quickly enough…
I know now that those interruptions were small indications that I had left holes in my explanations or expectations.
I was learning how to differentiate.
Learning classroom management.
And I was making progress, but I’d just been dismissed to help others by my favorite.
An eleven-year-old child
And, he needed me.
Why did he do that, put others before himself?
A lesson I still must learn…
To be okay, even when I need help.
To put others first.
It got to be too much for him one day.
He stormed out of a room, down the halls, shouting, shouting, shouting
Over and over
He ended up in my arms.
We sat and chatted for a bit
And again, I felt like my help wasn’t adequate.
Again, I knew he was right. Wise.
The conversation was like talking to an elderly man.
A man who know he was a man and wasn’t in the habit of taking others’ mess.
His yelling the only reasonable eleven-year-old response to a life that was a tad too much.
I heard him before he reached me, “No! No! No!”
He appeared in the hall
I remember indicating that I’d look after him.
I remember him conceding that I might have a point, or at least a strategy when it was too much.
God, you know I think of him often.
I know he’s one of your favorites, too!
I prayed then and still now that you stand in the gap where I am so very inadequate.
When I first started teaching, I asked God not to let my kids fail because of me.
Begged. I begged.
I asked God to help me be better—excellent.
To have the search for solutions begin and end in my own arsenal of wisdom.
At least to have a reasonable place to start.
God answers prayers.
As much as I worried then, and sometimes now
I realize in this moment, that if I was able to improve, so can they, too!
That they would grow beyond the moments with me.
I made them know they were loved
I worried so about their education, lack of education—my ability to reach them, lack of experience in doing so.
Baptized by fire.
Never worked so hard.
Never felt so unsure.
I pray he is well
Able to enjoy the years before him with a young, gentle outlook
Not to trade the wisdom—never
But to have the freedom to enjoy this world without worry
To enjoy a life of giving
He did have a laugh—more of a smirk that bubbled into a sweet smile and grunt
Like when rays of sunshine burst through an overcast sky.
That’s what made me know he was alive, that there was hope.
I want for him a life where he can yell, “Yes!”
A confident, sure life
One that looks back in awe of his own ability and forward with grace
A life where he can
catch others who need a moment…
And rest in knowing
That he is kept.