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?”
“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…