This much is true…the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most. But they are also the ones we need the most to change the world.

First week, first grade, first class of the school year. The kids were on day five so they were one step ahead of this first day’er right here. Routine is uber important when you have a class full of first graders, close to thirty of them to be exact. Day five…well routine is still a work in progress so it keeps things interesting, this is for sure. Could be a beautiful hot mess. 😉

First day’er has about ten minutes to read the plans for the day then it’s time to roll with it. Fly by the seat of our pants, an official part of the job description.

In walks E with an immediate hug for Mrs. J. and a warm welcome to his class. It was my first time meeting E but I briefly learned about him in the ten short minutes to read and inhale my coffee. He complains of ongoing tummy aches but this was about all we have pinpointed about E on day five of school.

A few minutes later sure enough, E was complaining his stomach hurt. This carried on throughout the morning, during good news pawsitive behavior, carpet time and writing without tears. I kept reassuring E it was going to be okay. E made it to music and PE but when he came out of PE (gym) he said he was going to throw up. I’m not sure at this point if tummy is truth or tummy is trouble.

We made our way back to the classroom but E threw himself down in the hallway directly in front of the office. A few minutes spent at the office to get things checked out and E was back in class.

Summary from the office. E is having a hard time telling the truth and making good choices.

It was time then my friend to work… which sent E in to a fit of rage. We now had crying and throwing himself down on the floor yet again. This went on for several minutes with no change. Hoping E would make good choices while the rest of his first grade colleagues covered their ears or put on headphones to concentrate was clearly not alleviating the situation. His rage was escalating, we now had kicking feet and reaching toward others.

E came back from the office a short while later that morning. He immediately came to sit on my lap in the rocking chair as we read in a group. Most of the time this out of our seat thing is against a teachers rules, they all need to be sitting in their assigned spots. It’s part of the system, part of the routine. But I let E sit with me because I could see he needed it most. It’s not always fair but routine does not feel fair to E. Because E is not going to meet all of these rules no matter how many times we try enforcing them and half the time it just makes him feel bad about himself.

Here is the thing though. When he became too full of rage for those of us closely around him, I had no choice, it was time to enforce a boundary. He had to understand there is a too far but that too far is not final. Not for this seven year old, not if there is anything I have to say about it. We can figure this out together E.

The amazing thing about this is that E came back in to the classroom and sat directly on my lap. Whereas we might expect more anger it drew him closer instead. He listened to the book we were reading together and he had the chance for better moments. If that meant breaking some rules we were doing it.

I know as a teacher the children who will not, try to with all of their might but simply can not conform to conventional rules. I also know as a teacher we try so hard to make them do it. Not because teachers are not loving but simply because we are managing a large group of children. But I also know we can damage in to adulthood. There is no perfect formula though. For E, sitting on my lap, standing up and doing his math by my side instead of at his desk is happening. In between making bad choices towards himself or others he will feel the sting of absolute rules. But then we try again.

He was so angry with rage when he had to leave the room and certainly unhappy with me, the teacher. But he came back a different kid. We went through the same cycle in the afternoon but not as intense. He stayed in class, he worked hard on math. This is progress. Might seem small but it is progress.

E is still feeling a connection and that my friends is good news.

I’ve been with E now for a few days and I know this child struggles. He struggles with fitting in to norms and rules and expectations while the rest of the world pushes back on him. A driving force is E’s inability to manage his emotions. It’s a delicate line for him.

I am definitely not a perfectly equipped person for this calling, it tests patience to the maximum degree. But show me a classroom full of children and I will find the sweet faces who need it most. I can’t help it. They can be the most uber frustrating little people on earth
but in turn the very most loving.

I love these teaching moments beyond any words I could ever describe because they also teach me about Jesus. We all go too far with something in this life. But our teacher is patient. He knows we won’t learn unless something stops us in our tracks. Jesus loves us too much not to stop us. We might scream, have fits of rage and refuse to go to the office but He always lets us come back and try again.

And so…it’s been a happy first week of first grade so far with many new faces. E hugged me goodbye at the end of the day and asked if I happen to keep a husband around. To which he boldly replied “oh man” so I’m not sure if he was planning to propose or what…so stinking cute.

Another little man to adopt if I could.

Loved By Grace,