Last week, I shared that I’d been doing some substitute teaching in a couple of local schools. It’s such a treat to be in my own kids’ school, just to get to see them interact with their classmates, meet their friends and see that yes, they are doing ok with all the changes this year has brought our community.
I often wonder what our kids will choose to do with their lives and what impact they will make on the world around them. This week, I was blessed with the reminder that we don’t have to wait for adulthood to impact others. I’ve always known this, but it was a great reminder.
I’ve spent quite a number of days over the fall at one of our neighboring school districts filling in for travelling teachers, sick teachers, and those who need to take a break to be with their own children. It’s really a great deal. I go when I can, but if I already have plans or just not feeling well myself, I do what’s right for me and my family. If you’re not in the market for a full-time job, but looking for a way to help in the community, I highly recommend it. You get to spend your days with the future and you get to make a difference, often without even realizing it. Some kids just really need to know that someone cares, that someone will listen when they’re angry, or upset, or happy. Some need a hug or a high five, others just need someone to be there so they can keep doing what they’re doing. And if you have kids in school, you get the bonus of seeing them interact with their peers. Honest, I love it.
Last week, I was at a neighboring school, subbing for the district music teacher. As such, I got to be with almost every student in the elementary over of the course of the morning. It’s no secret, I love music. Add to that, kids who are excited for a break from the regular classroom and you’ve got a recipe for fun! I noticed a little boy who looked familiar when I picked up the kindergarten class, but I’ve been there several times over the last few months, so I thought perhaps I had encountered him in Art.
The DVD the teacher left for the kindergartners wasn’t working that day, so I quickly improvised and brought the 2nd/4th grade lesson to a kindergarten level and we were off discussing legends, heroes, and the likes of John Henry, complete with pretending to be the mighty rail man. It was great fun! Somewhere in the midst of all that, I saw a hand go up at the back of the room. It was that of my familiar looking friend. I smiled and nodded to give him the floor and the sweetest sound filled the room: “Hey, do you know Ben?”
Remember, this was not our district, but a neighboring one. It’s not uncommon at all for kids of varying ages to ask if I’m Ben’s mom in our district because, well, to be honest, when he’s upset, everyone in the building knows it. He makes his point known and then goes back to a more appropriate volume. He can fill the room with a smile and his laughter is contagious. So, yea, most kids in the school know him and many ask if he is mine when they hear my last name. But, this wasn’t Avon.
I looked again and instantly recognized my boy’s buddy, “W”. I knew he’d moved away, but had no idea I’d be blessed with seeing him again. My heart filled with joy as this boy was such a sweet friend to our boy. He is one of the few Ben has prayed for at bedtime every single night for weeks. He is the only one, no kidding – the ONLY one, Ben had willingly shared his beloved notebook and crayons with the first six years of his life. Not only that, but he also willingly shared his marker board and markers. You likely won’t understand the gravity of this unless you personally know our Ben, but just trust me on this: IT IS HUGE!!!
It took everything I had not to run and squeeze this boy. All I could do was stand there and fight back the tears as I gasped and asked, “Are you W?”
What a precious smile spread across his face as he nodded yes. I got the DVD going for the other kids and set off to find pictures on my phone of W and Ben and friends on a field trip they took last fall. W’s smile was so very precious, it absolutely made my day. He even agreed to having his picture taken with me so I could show Ben when I got home that night.
I shared the encounter with his teacher just in case the kids talked about the sub taking pictures, because let’s face it, that could be cause for concern. Her eyes filled with tears as she shared about his experiences thus far.
I happened to see my little buddy a couple more times throughout the day. The last time was just before dismissal. He looked at me and asked, “Can you please tell Ben I said, ‘Hi’?”
Mercy, my boy made just as much of an impression on him as he did on us. Yes, kids make a difference, too.