This I Believe

Susan - West Point, Utah
Entered on May 17, 2007

I believe essay.

I cannot change the world of its madness, but as a teacher, I can change many lives by giving one child a chance.

The boy, who made an impression on me, was a young three-year-old, court ordered to appear in my classroom, because of neglect. He came into the classroom like a fireball ready to explode. His eyes were resistive and full of anger. His mouth would sputter out words of filth. His fists were drawn, and I had bruises to prove it.

Another coworker, who I had admired, replied, “That child is a waste of skin and should be dead.” I felt nauseous. I was struck dumb at the selfishness, and lack of compassion shown. I thought of Jesus, who loved every child, every woman and man, and every sinner unconditionally. This student was an innocent child, only doing what his environment had taught him. It was then my mission to give this child the love that his neglectful parents and family had stripped him of, and to break down the barrier that he had built up to protect himself from pain.

Kneeling, I would greet him with a little squeeze, and an “I’m so glad you are here today.” Every transition for him was difficult. He would fight me with his fists, and kick me with his feet. Ripping toys out of other children’s small hands, he would tell them to “blankity-blank-blank.” I would then take him to the specified trash can, and tell him those were garbage words and he needed to throw them away. After 20 visits to the trash can, one begins to get the point.

I was inspired one day, because of his angry energy, to take him down the hall. We ended up in an empty spaced room. With his small fist in my hand, we began to run ovals around the room. He began to tire quickly. Slowing our pace, I asked him of his favorites: trucks and trains. We continued this regiment daily; the warm heart-felt greetings, throwing away filthy words, and together running away his frustrations.

After a few weeks he began to run into school. He would give me a slobbery kiss, and say, “I love you, Miss Susan.” He would then take my hand in his and we would share some playtime together. His trash can words became less frequent along with his times of rage. I wonder how he is doing and hope he continues to progress positively throughout his education.

My heart cries for the child who does not trust the world he has been thrown into. I want my students to be asking questions as I once did; “Will my new teacher be friendly? Will she be fun? Will she be pretty? and Will I make many friends?” I hope their answers to their questions include the response, “Somebody does care about me as a person, and it is my teacher.”