Be Careful Little Eyes

When I look back over my posts to this blog, I rarely see stories that aren’t positive.  Happy, even. Sometimes reflective, but not in a “downer” way.  

I’m not the first to wish they could all be happy.

So, I’m at one of my schools today, walking down the hallway pushing a cart full of iPads, heading toward my next class, and there’s a little guy walking my direction in the kindergarten hallway.  

I recognize him from a class I’ve taught in the past (I’m a STEM coach), and I get ready to give him some sort of greeting.  There’s no way I know everyone’s name, so my greetings are usually along the classic lines of, “What’s going on, Sport?” Or “Tiger.” Or “Champ.”  In a pinch, “Good morning!” works, too.

As he gets closer, though, I realize he’s crying.

Okay, I’m an upper elementary grades guy, so this isn’t a normal thing for me.  

I’m also well over six feet tall, so the first thing I do is drop to a knee as he stops beside me.

“Hey, what’s wrong, big guy?”

Quiet crying.

“Are you okay?  Did you hurt yourself?”

He’s getting it together and doesn’t appear to be hurt, so I wait.

After a few seconds: “I’m… I’m afraid.”

“Afraid of what?  It’s okay here. You’re okay here.”  I’m trying to be reassuring, and he’s getting his 6-year-old composure back.  Slowly.

His words are painful to hear, made all the more so by having them come from a tear-stained face.  “I’m afraid of Pennywise. I keep thinking about Pennywise. I keep hearing the Pennywise music.”

This is tough.  Now I have to be compassionate and reassuring, all at the same time I feel anger welling up inside of me.

“Hey, it’s okay.  Sometimes we see things that are frightening, but that’s a movie.  You know that’s not real, don’t you?” My delivery is slow and deliberate, and I’m doing my best to do that reassuring thing.

“I know.  I know.”

There isn’t anything else to say.  We stand there for a while as the features on his face ease and the crying stops.  I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere, and give him the time he needs. Eventually I leave the cart in the middle of the hallway and walk him back to his class.  A quick whispered conversation with the teacher, and I’m back on my way.

From somewhere in my past, I hear the only words I remember from what I’m pretty sure is a classic kid’s song.  

Be careful little eyes what you see.  Be careful little eyes what you see…



11 thoughts on “Be Careful Little Eyes”

  1. You were in the right place at the right time for this little guy. However, where did the “little eyes” see this sight? My wife is a transitional kindergarten teacher with students who play Call of Duty. My sixth graders have seen and heard things on TV and online that my generation (48 Gen Xer) would have never thought possible.

    Parenting is parenting, in whatever time period you are at.

    Thanks for sharing this frightening slice (not seen the movie, but in the book, Pennywise is a scary dude!).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank goodness for you being around. Who says that coaches can’t affect children’s lives as equally as classroom teachers? With presence, comes vulnerability and I am glad that this kid felt comfortable enough to let you know how he feels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is nice being able to interact with so many kids. The relationships aren’t like they are as a full time classroom teacher, but I do appreciate the opportunities this position affords me.


  3. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. It was fortunate you didn’t have to get anywhere quickly since he needed you right there with him. I’m sure the comfort you provided him settled him as he transitioned back to his classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You may never know the scope of your intervention today, but for that moment, you were that boy’s everything. And I echo the comment above about parenting…how did such a little one come across that material?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I could feel myself alongside you as I read your descriptive details. “His words are painful to hear, made all the more so by having them come from a tear-stained face.” What a powerful line.

    Liked by 1 person

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