The substitute teacher for the kindergarten class cancelled her scheduled appearance 15 minutes before the school's corridors opened for the morning. The substitute substitute could come right away, but she had to leave at 11. The students, all of whom showed up on time, had to be divided between the remaining teachers after lunch recess.
Chaos is troubling for many of these kids. School is the rule driven place, where expectations are made clear. It's safe. They know what will happen and when. Disrupt the routine, and expect a reaction.
An unfamiliar sub is hard enough when you're 5 or 6. When outside you are bigger and taller than everyone else but inside you are a lot more scared than everyone else, when the new morning teacher doesn't come back so your whole class is scattered into strange rooms, when you find out that it's going to last for the whole rest of the day..... well, it's all just too much.
And so he stood there, sobbing as quietly and unobtrusively as the biggest kid in the line could sob, and I watched as three then four then five littler boys put their arms around him and told him that it would be okay... and that their room was really, really nice … but mostly they just hugged him.
I drifted over, being Grandma, making sure everything was okay, and I found myself in the outer circle of a huge hug, all of us concentrating on the least among us.... no matter how big... in a Horton kind of way.
He caught his breath and the tears stopped and I told them how proud I was of boys taking care of boys who, themselves, were brave enough to ask for help. We hugged and patted some more; as I peeled away, one of the littlest ones followed me.
His small tug on my cloak and his very serious face stopped me. Once certain that he had my total attention, he reported the following fact:
"Grandma, we were doing one of our things - we were doing kind."
Love shows its face and it's impossible not to smile.
Happy Valentines Day to the grown-ups at Prince Elementary School,
who teach and model kind each and every day.