Every day children shuffle into my classroom, and I have a bottle of fairy dust I keep on my desk. Kids want teachers who spread a little sparkle and I ask myself every day, ‘How can I be a better teacher?’
Clara stood from a distance watching the grade six, girls skipping. I was coming out of the school’s big metal doors, and I saw her off on her own. Then she mustered up the courage to come forward and ask if she could play with the other girls.
It was a bad idea.
One of the other girls, Tracey, immediately shot her down and humiliate her in front of the group. She gave a few reasons why the girl wasn’t “good enough” to play with them. Clara went back to her spot, leaning against the school wall with her head hanging.
She was unworthy.
I thought to myself, ‘Her clothes, speech, electronics, looks or family’s status have not allowed her to enter into their circle.’
My heart ached for her.
I wanted to take her aside, pull out my fairy dust, and help her see the future she could dream of.
We could sit together on the grass on a warm fall afternoon and dream of her beautiful life, filled with endless possibilities.
I never know where my students are headed.
I am a school teacher, and these are my children. If I could glimpse into their futures, it would help me.
Clara’s classmates were defining her by what they saw on the outside. The group didn’t see her potential and didn’t know the woman she would become…
If only they had known Clara would grow up to be a teacher, with a classroom of her own children, who would hang on her every word.
At the end of each day, she would drive home to an adoring husband and three kids who would run to welcome her, “Mommy, Mommy, your home!”
Clara would bend down to her knees with a smile as they hugged her and rattle on about their day. Her husband would stand back admiring his lovely wife, and they would look at each other with longing.
Tracey, fifteen years later, would be sitting at home alone with a bottle of alcohol, and children who never called. Her bitterness and harsh words she had spoken from childhood had pushed everyone out of the cold, hard walls of her heart and home.
As she scrolled Facebook one day, she saw a picture of a family and something about the mother looked familiar. Then it dawned on her, it was Clara.
She had hated Clara.
Memories of their schoolyard days came flooding back. Everytime Clara had asked to play with Tracey’s group, Tracey shot her down and fired off cruel words to embarrass and shame Clara. A tiny pang of remorse filtered into Tracey’s throat and gripped it tightly as tears began to spill down her cheeks.
She had heard the teacher call Clara to the door of the class one day in grade one. Clara’s eyes lit up, and she went running over to a lovely woman with long shiny chestnut hair, who bent and hugged her.
“Mommy, thank you for bringing my lunch.”
Her mother was beaming at her, and her hands smoothed Clara’s matching chestnut hair.
Tracey wiped away the tears as she sat in front of her computer, and some splattered on her keyboard. She looked around her apartment and saw her daughter’s teddy bear on the couch, a remnant of the child she used to have but was now in foster care. Tracey had no one…she was alone.
She had hated Clara because Clara was loved.
As a little girl, Tracey had woken herself each morning and tiptoed by her drunken mother, Julie, and her boyfriend as they were still sprawled on the couch with their beer bottles and dirty needles strewn across the coffee table. Tracey knew what would happen if she woke them as she rubbed the bruise on her left arm.
She looked in the fridge and cupboards for food, but all she could find was a piece of dried up pizza.
As Tracey walked to school that cold winter’s day she wondered how she was going to tell her classmates she had no lunch again. She was running out of excuses, and she hated being pitied!
At lunchtime, Clara’s mom had taken the time to drop off the lunch she had forgotten.
Tracey tummy growled and reminded her of her drunken mother at home.
She hated Clara.
Why couldn’t she have a mom who loved her enough to give up her drugs and alcohol? She remembered her mother, Julie, before the drinking. She had been a sweet and loving mother. When poverty had struck Julie and Tracey, and they had nowhere to turn, Julie began to prostitute after Tracey went to bed each night.
Julie had told herself she was only going to work the nights till she got back on her feet.
The shame and guilt began to pile higher every night and voices would haunt her as she tried to sleep. She couldn’t make them go away. Then her pimp offered her drugs to help her get rid of the demons. They had magical powers, as all her demons left… until the drugs wore off.
Then they rushed back worse than before, she needed harder drugs and couldn’t break the vicious cycle.
Tracey’s mother had dreamed of being a good mother again.
Tracey remembered the walks to the park with Julie, the homecooked meal, the hugs and kisses. All had vanished.
Eventually, Julie’s organs all shut down, one by one.
I snapped out of my thoughts on Clara and Tracey’s future.
As I walk past the girls and looked at Clara against the wall, I had a hunch she’d be okay. Clara doesn’t need me to help her dream. She has a mother and father who love her, and every day after school she goes home to people who believe she will grow up to be a princess.
I looked at Tracey, and the hard lines of her face and my heart softens;
“Tracey, can I talk to you?”
She looked horrified that I caught her bullying Clara. She hangs her head and walks towards me expecting to be punished. When she finally stands in front of me I wrap my arm around her shoulder, and we walk over to a tree on the playground, and I invite her to sit down.
Today, I will help Tracey dream. I will reach into my heart and pull out my sparkle. And I will show her that I believe in her, that I love her and one day she may grow up to be a princess.
I am a teacher, a mother and a friend. I have the potential to change a child’s life and help them to believe there is a better life outside the nightmare they live in every day.
Sometimes I want to lash out at the bully, then I step back for a moment and think;
“Maybe this is just an unloved child.”
💗 💗 💗
Although this story is fictional, it is real every day in North America. Too many teachers have classes filled with hurting children.
As a teacher, you may be the only parent a child has. Teaching them value, patience, kindness and love…may inspire them to one day be just like you.
This post is dedicated to all the teachers who made a child feel smart, witty, athletic, kind and most of all…loved.
If you had a teacher you cherished, feel free to tag or share this post with them. Teachers have a challenging job and somedays they just need to know they really are making a difference💗
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16. NIV
- This post is dedicated to Mr. McKnight, who believed I had the potential to write. Thank-you for the sparkle!