A student approaches me in the hallway, stopping abruptly. He says, “Hi! You’re my favorite substitute! Do you remember me?”

Here’s the lie: “Of course. I remember my students, especially the terrific ones like you.”

“Are you my teacher today, I hope?”

“No, but I wish I were.”

On one level, I do preserve memories of all my students, good, challenging or otherwise. Some have left much better memories than others, to be sure. But the reason for my little lie is simple. People large and small want to be recognized and remembered, especially if they have warm feelings for you. While I would have had to guess his name, he probably wouldn’t have cared.

Telling the truth is one of those essential habits that I frequently discuss. But ironically, doing so often requires small untruths.

It’s an awesome drawing. You obviously have talent as an artist.

The story is great. Maybe you should think about being a writer.

The other kids in class really admire and respect you.

Having you here makes a huge difference.

No matter how many ways I look at it, no harm is done. Maybe these are potential writers, architects or graphic designers. Whether they are or not, they know that someone somewhere believed in them.

Most of us will benefit from someone enhancing us, especially if it’s one of our favorite teachers. How grateful I am for that designation. Shalom.

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