There is a boy in Selam’s class. Let’s call him Bob. He has a shock of hair, freckles and a smile that God painted to demonstrate delight. Seriously, this kid is full of delight. Sand moving from one hand to another? delight. Water and a red boat in the water table? delight. Selam liking his shoes? delight. It is an exquisite smile. It’s one you just want to mirror.
The problem with Bob is, well, he has problems. He has a hard time sitting still and following directions. He gets excited and pushes kids. He destroys materials, just to see what might happen if, say, you were to snip the tips off the markers. He gets angry and hits.
All year, I’ve heard people talk about this child (this child that honestly I find so exquisite that I feel defensive on his behalf even though he’s not my kid). The problem with Bob is that he’s the only boy in the family. The problem with Bob is that he has no discipline. The problem with Bob is he must have ADD and needs medicine. The problem with Bob is that he has no respect. The problem with Bob is….
The thing is Selam loves Bob as much as I do. More, actually. Truth be told, she breaks into a big goofy smile every time she sees him, and will run full out across the room for the chance to share the listening table with him.
As pure as her love for him is, she’s also the self-appointed class reporter. Everyone who gets in trouble with the teachers goes on Selam’s daily report. Today, she was telling me what Bob did, and then I heard her say the phrase that I’ve come to hate from parents and teachers…..
“The problem with Bob is……he has a good heart inside and he just can’t let everybody see it yet. He needs help getting it outside.”
I’d like to say that Selam has some concrete ideas for how to help her friend. She doesn’t. It’s really not her job. That’s the job of the grownups–of all of us, really–to help all the kids get their good hearts outside.