There’s this boy in my homeroom who I absolutely adore. He’s built to play football, he’s confident and he’s funny. He wants to be an engineer. He’s also the sweetest child on the planet, always eager to volunteer for anything and does the right thing at all times. We have him sitting next to one of the worst-behaved boys in school, because somehow the presence of this wonderful kid just calms him down and makes him act right. If I have a son, I’d love if he ended up just like this.
Today, this boy pulled me aside and told me he needed to talk. The first thing out of his mouth was, “I just don’t feel welcome in this community” and then my big football player ll-year-old started crying and couldn’t stop. We went and sat in the staircase and talked it out for a long time (this is why it’s great I get so much prep time). He told me he feels loved by the teachers but thinks none of the kids like him. They poke him and push him and put their feet on chairs so he won’t sit next to them. He says it happens all the time.
Important background info is that he attended the school we’re taking over for elementary school. He knew the majority of kids in our school when we started here, and apparently in fifth grade he hung out with some tough kids and misbehaved regularly. When I asked him if he had friends last year and what had changed, he said:
“Yeah, I had a lot of friends, but I hung out with the bad kids. This year I decided I didn’t want to grow up to be a bad person. I know the rules here and I want to follow them. I don’t want to get detention every day. But now that I’m doing good, they don’t want to be around me anymore. They don’t like me now.”
My heart broke while he was talking. I just wanted to hug him and keep him and save him from the world. He should be as thrilled with his amazingness as I am, and instead it’s apparently lost him all his friends. It was all I could do to not cry with him as he talked. Baby, how can I make this right?
Luckily, my dean let him sit in her office for the rest of the day (which was almost over). She adores him as much as I do and got him to tell her the whole story too. She ended up inventing a Leadership Award for him, getting me to sign it, and then sending it home with him at the end of the day. Somehow she convinced him it was the best thing ever and he looked happier when he left. At least that’s something.