For the past three weeks I've taken over a special education K-2 class. I should be able to stop right there and not have to write another word, all those little hands and running noses, their little faces and special needs, their emotions and eyes staring me right in the face every single day and today one of those little angels gave me a cold, thank you Dayquil for helping with the symptoms.
Each morning I meet a few of them coming off the “short” bus and the rest trickle into the auditorium, each in turn giving me a hug and invariably coughing right in my face, sneezing openly, strategically turning their heads toward me at that most opportune moment. Many come to school with runny noses that have to be wiped and blown throughout the day leaving mounds of tissue to be discarded and great gaps I’m sure in some far away forest.
They have issues, they have learning disabilities, they cry and pout, they often break down in class disrupting the rest of the class and causing a cascading effect of sympathy emotions that spread like a wild fire in an overgrown and over dried, windswept valley. The best thing to do is get out of the way and let it burn itself out.
But with all these challenges it’s the eyes of those innocent children that pierce your heart. They look into your soul and see only trust and kindness, visions that they rely on each and every day. Their eyes may cry or may laugh but they communicate a desperate need to be loved and cared for, a look we all should have but for many that look is shadowed by failure and trauma, disappointment and tragedy leaving many with only a shell of hope and a specter of what life should have been.
There are a few kids who do not like to hug but even in their eyes they want to be loved, their autism getting in the way perhaps of knowing or feeling those all important emotions, their eyes a bit more distant and self absorbed but deep within the child still lives, cries and searches for joy and in those rare moments when the eyes do meet the knowing is so important, those little hands reach out and hug melting the most hardened of hearts.
These little ones have a faith and hope that is almost unshakable. They don’t understand what faith is but they react to an almost inherent process of reliance that all will be OK, that they will be protected and cared for and as the teacher it is my job, even if temporarily, to care, coddle, cuddle and clasp those little hands in such a way that faith is expanded and hope encouraged, as I think it is with many teachers.
Their are also many who do not share these emotional connections, relying solely on the perks of education to get them through each and every day; endlessly waiting for those strategically placed vacations days, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the ultimate holiday of summer in order to endure the trials of teaching.
Teaching is a trial, it’s not an easy job and substituting is even worse but there are times when it’s all worth it, especially when those little eyes meet mine and I melt under their gaze, their little arms reach out they let go of their parents, they turn toward you and the transfer of faith begins and the hugs commence.
It is this transfer of faith that makes relationships strong; it’s also the lack of this transfer or the shattering of that faith that creates the most problems, not just with personal relationships but with business, with governments and with nationalities. We are a world that craves trust and faith but so often those hopes are dashed by unscrupulous leaders and politicians who promise the moon but fail to deliver even a small morsel of cheese. And so it goes, day after day the world deals with disappointment, deception and dishonesty and we continue to allow those that lead us down the flowery path of broken promises to continue to lead.
We continue to elect those same politicians with a profound level of false hope and counterfeit faith, blaming every other leader but not our own for the ills of our lives and society. Can you imagine a teacher (yes it’s happened many times) failing to instill that trust or even worse stealing it away through evil acts or unintended actions? That percentage of teachers who betray that sacred trust is actually very small, thankfully so, keeping intact, at least for the young years that faith so badly needed by the youth. I wish I could say the same for our politicians.
We expect our teachers to hold true and be vigilant to their sacred duty but why not our leaders? We expect our teachers to be prepared and calm masters of classroom management and diplomacy but not our politicians. They commit whoredomes with secrecy, passing laws that protect and insulate, manipulating their constituency in order to retain their power and we never seem to question their motives or morals. Maybe it’s time we started looking deep into their eyes to discover their true intentions, letting them look us in the eye to see our resolve and our lost faith and hope that they will actually serve our needs and not their own.