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June 10, 2013

A $5 Difference

Being a substitute teacher, I find it difficult sometimes to really bond with the students that I teach, which is understandable, since I work at 12 different schools and with 2 school boards.  I’m not sure what triggered this memory this morning, but it made me smile and I wanted to share it with you.

My hubby and I were at the movie rental place one Saturday night.  Living in small town, I often see “my” students when I go out.  That night, we came across W.  W. was a grade 7 or 8 student at the time, and he had behavioural exceptionalities that made his life at school difficult.  I had recently been in his class for the day and, I’m not sure how, but I had a connection with him.  Every colleague of mine had wished me good luck with him and had given me advice on how to “handle” him.  I think he was just misunderstood and needed someone to come in without preconceived ideas about him and his behaviour.  Right from the start, he showed me respect and I reciprocated.

As we were browsing the new releases, W. came in the store with two of his friends.  I could tell he was upset just by his demeanor.  As he approached us, I said hi with a big smile and asked him how he was.  He replied, somewhat rudely, that he was p*$!#d off.  I asked him why he was so angry and he replied that he had put money in a vending machine and hadn’t gotten his drink.  He had “spoken” to some staff members at the store where the vending machine was located, and that resulted in him being banned from the store.

“You lost it a little, didn’t you?”  I asked him calmly.

“No!” he answered, but the look on his face (and his friends’ faces) told me otherwise.   

 I reached into my pocket and handed him a $5 bill.  I told him to take a deep breath and stay out of trouble.  I didn’t lecture him, I didn’t yell at him, and I didn’t tell him that he was making bad choices.  He already knew it and didn’t need to hear it from another adult. 

He nodded, said thank you and hugged me.  He actually hugged me!
When I saw him at school a few days later, he thanked me again and told me that he had a better night after I saw him.  To me, it was only $5, but to him, it was an adult finally caring about him.  Instead of buying myself a treat for the movie, I made a difference in this child’s life.

I haven’t seen this boy in many years and I often wonder how he is doing.  I hope and pray that he is on the right path and that his life is what he wants it to be.

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