Yesterday morning I sat in front of a class of kindergartners, discussing a grade-suitable book that they had read the day before. It wasn’t fascinating subject matter but it had a moral that students could identify. One young man, for the second or third time that day, finessed a seat immediately in front of me. Had I attempted to leave my chair, it would have required him to move or a nearly gymnastic effort on my part.
As we worked through the book, my escort found it necessary and appropriate to examine each of my accessories that he could reach without being conspicuous. He did it quietly and attracted attention from only one neighbor.
First it was my badge. He admired the bat that a previous student had stuck to it. Then it was my bracelet, then my scarf. His touches were gentle and unobtrusive so I allowed him to continue his exploration of my rings and watch.
It never occurred to me to interrupt his discovery process. At one point, I realized that at age 5 or 6, he had limited means with which to connect to me but urgently wanted to do so. And because my interaction with students is always individualized and often unusual, I realized that this was his method for delivering affection.
Sometimes I get love letters and sometimes it’s drawings. On other occasions it’s hugs or declarations of love. Last week I received a treasured plastic football ring. This display was no different – checking his eyes, he confirmed that we had a special bond. As we were leaving, I asked the class if I should make a return appearance. His “Yes!” was the loudest.
If I convinced one student that he was extraordinary and accepted, I had a joyous day. In the event that his day was equally memorable, my joy is boundless. Shalom.