Will You Be the One?

He’s that one kid.

You know exactly who I’m talking about.

Worn-out shoes a size too small and always untied.

Messy bed-head hair, or possibly just a buzz-cut so nobody has to bother with it in the morning.

He’s a bit rough around the edges, quick with a temper or a shove when things don’t go his way.

When you walk your child to their classroom in the morning, your Coach bag teetering on your shoulder and Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha firmly in hand, you see this kid.

And something about him makes you uneasy.

You make judgements on the spot about his family, his character.

He’s not the kind of kid you want your child to befriend. He’s trouble, always being sent to the office for this or that.

Or maybe she’s that little girl with crooked ponytails and a huge hole in her tights. She makes no eye contact with anyone, stands at the edge of the playground, and holds a death-grip on her wrinkled brown-paper lunch sack with no name written on it.

You heard from Suzie’s mom that Hayden saw her digging around in the lunchroom trash one day.

As you walk by her, something makes you hold your daughter’s arm and steer her ever so slightly away, away from this girl whose very existence threatens you.

Because she’s different.

I see your stares, hear the gossip.

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be that one kid?

Some of these kids have already had a horrible day before the school bell rings at 8:30am.

No fault of their own, really.

Kids can’t pick their parents. They have little or no control over the adults in their lives, the crazy mixed-up shells of people who sometimes can’t even be bothered to bring them to school.

For days on end.

The yelling, harsh tones, foul language, tears….all before 8:30am.

Things that don’t belong in a child’s world.

And yet, these children soldier on.

Because for many of them, school is their respite from a chaotic, loud, and unpredictable world.

A world where kids are often expected to be little adults. They try to keep their parent pulled together with nothing more than wishes whispered in a dark bedroom each night.

So the next time you feel yourself veering away from that one kid, maybe you could offer a “Good Morning” instead.

Or simply a smile.

You might just be the one who makes a difference that day.

Comments

  1. purseblogger says:

    Oh wow, this hits home. You are so right on this. Thanks for posting.

  2. It really is sad, isn't it? I always wonder what's going on at home when I see a child who seems, well, different. Beautifully put as always, Sherri!

  3. The Little Hen House says:

    You are so right Sherri. This post broke my heart in all the right ways. xo

  4. Kids like this are often treated the same way that people with disabilities are treated. They're different from us, so we distance ourselves from them without ever knowing their story. All it takes to make their day, to make a difference in their lives, is to treat them the way we would want to be treated. A smile, a greeting, our time.

    Can I ask what prompted you to write about this?

  5. mommysparadise says:

    All so true you said. I'm sure many people think about smiling and talking to these kids, but let's be honest, hardly someone does. Good you put a finger on this subject. Let's just hope everyone really does interact in some ways.

  6. Cheryl D. says:

    Sherri: You have such a gift with words! Thanks for sharing a perspective that many of us never consider!

  7. Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. Written so beautifully and with compassion. XO I see some of these kids in clinic too, and I'm just thankful the parents actually brought them in.

  8. Mountain Witch says:

    I am SO with you on this! Thoughts on this just snowball from, it's not the kids fault, to what's going on with the parents, what's happening at home, always with the same conclusion. Love them. – Great post. Thank you!

  9. missmillie5 says:

    Cried a little while reading this beautiful. I was one of those kids and I still remember what it felt like. Now as an adult I try to go out of my way to help "those" kids when I see them,because what you said is true…I may be the one to make a difference for them that day. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece.

  10. Even though you aren't telling a story about one specific kid, my heart still breaks. I do always feel bad when you see a child who you can tell is doing their best given their personal circumstances.

  11. Good point. This is the time of year when I tend to forget that sometimes these kids have a bad day before they ever even get to me in the classroom.

  12. Sober Julie says:

    Oh what a great message!!
    We have a little girl in my daughter's class, Charlie whose smile could light up the world and she breaks my heart. She is so full of light and love when it's obvious she isn't well cared for.
    We have created a bond Charlie and I and I'm grateful for that.

  13. I was that kid.

    When you live in a small town and your father is murdered, everyone knows who you are. They don't want their children to play at your house, they encourage their children to make different, more suitable friends, friends who aren't damaged by association.

    I was that kid and I wish that someone had been there to speak these words for me, Sherri.

    You are so amazing.
    Much love to you…

  14. They're kids! I do not know how people don't get that. They're just KIDS and they deserve a hug.

  15. Patricia Iles says:

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    http://www.contemplatinghappiness.blogspot.com

  16. The Girl in the zebra pumps says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have friends whose child has Autism or my own son who has Down syndrome… and I worry they/he will be treated and judged this way. I hope not, but I know it will happen. Thank you for this. I choose to smile at those who are "different".

  17. So true Sherri. Great reminder. I bet you see this all the time at school. Those poor kids. A smile and a little attention go a LONG ways.

    Your school is so lucky to have you.

  18. I must be PMSing or something, because this made me cry! I know that "one kid", and the next time I see him, I will do exactly what you suggested. So sad…and makes me grateful that my children are so loved.

  19. Do you know how many kids I'm going to hug tomorrow? I love this so much. Thank you. xoxo

  20. Mommy Needs a Vacation says:

    This is so sad..I saw this when I was teaching elementary school. This is a beautiful post Sherri!

  21. My son is friends with that kid. And truth be told there are moments where I worry about the affect it has on my son.

    This particularly boy is so scared of the world he is a bit of a bully. Many parents don't want their kids to play with him and I sometimes worry about that having a negative impact on my son.

    I feel a bit guilty about saying it but I sometimes think it.

  22. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    It would really make their day. I believe all children need to know that they are seen and are important.

  23. Suzanne G. McClendon says:

    I know what it is like to be that one kid, always the outsider, never fitting in, fears and tears as bed mates and looking forward to school because at least you wouldn't be around the fighting and hateful words. Always feeling worthless and unwanted, even at school because you were the last one chosen for the games, and you wore glasses and you were short, and your clothes didn't come from the mall.

    Yeah, I know.

    I think this is what makes me so angry when I hear about kids getting picked on at school (or wherever), or see people being mean to them. It makes me think unChristian things because I know that kid is thinking "why can't anyone just LOVE me? Why?"

    Then that one person comes along, they smile at you, they let you sit with them, they let you play, they tell you that you're just the way Heavenly Father wants you to be, that "great things come in small package". You get the caliber speech from the teacher that caught you with a cheat sheet that you didn't use because you knew how to spell the words, you just wanted to see what the big deal was with cheating. She tells you that she knows you are better than that, that you have so much potential, and she believes in you to the point that you HAVE to work hard to make her proud. You start to know that yes, someone does care whether you live or die.

    That smile, those words, they make all the difference in the world. That smile, those words are how I survived my childhood with any ray of hope intact.

    They do make a difference.

    Sorry for writing a book here in the comment section…this is a very passionate subject for me. I could hear Mark Wills' song "Don't Laugh at Me" while I was reading your great post. Thank you.

  24. Beautiful. And heartbreaking. And true. Which makes this post more of each.

  25. BalancingMama (Julie) says:

    Oh, so true. Sometimes we should step out of our lives of privledge and touch those who need a little support. Fantastic post.

  26. MamaRobinJ says:

    I love things like this, because it pulls me out of my assumptions, my automatics. It reminds me that there are other stories out there.

    Such a simple question. Thank you.

  27. Dana @ Bungalow'56 says:

    As a teacher you see these kids and yet they are so good at hiding their world from you. Masters at it really. For each and every person, and child you may meet, you might be the one difference in their world. And you will never know.
    Dana

  28. Booyah's Momma says:

    This reminds me of a poster that my husband (a former teacher), used to have hanging in his office. "A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child."

    I always loved that saying.

    Those kids are so lucky to have someone like you in their lives. We could all do with a little less judging… and a little more caring.

  29. Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas says:

    This was POWERFUL! It broke my heart! It's important to try and offer these poor kids a little bit of what they aren't getting & so desperately need – even if it's as small as a smile or a kind word.

    Bernadette

  30. A warm gesture and a friendly "hello" can make all the difference in the world, can't they?

    It's really as simple and as complicated as that, isn't it?

    Beautiful.

  31. Awwww.

    Breaks my heart to know how hard life is for too many kids.

  32. Such a touching post Sherri. I always just want to take those kids home. I'm so glad you wrote this to remind all of us how far a simple smile or good morning can go.

  33. This touched my heart, today!! (I really wish that the process for becoming natural parents was as rigorous as the process for becoming foster parents…)

  34. Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip says:

    What a powerful post. It is so true. Why do we shy away from the very people who need our help? And it's not just children either. Because there are plenty of adults out there that just need a friendly smile too. Thanks for such an eye-opening read. You are awesome!

  35. Kindred Adventures says:

    I work with kids that have disabilities.whether they are BD,LD or even ED or Autistic They all have different kinds of needs. I have had this one "different kid" a few yrs ago and all I wanted to do is take him home with me. It is sad to see kids get treated badly for how they dress or look like. In our School we do a lot of social groups with the "different kids". Which thank god it has opened doors for the “Normal kids” to see. Hey all kids are they same. All they want to be liked! Love your post!

  36. Sluiter Nation says:

    I live for that kid.

    We have soooo many of that kid in our school. That kid? Is usually my favorite and can be found hanging out with the rest of those kids near my room after school.

    that kid? will be something special someday.

  37. The Empress says:

    I was that different kid.

    The one dressed in clothes from the old country.

    The one with lunches that had weird, ethnic food in them.

    The one whose parents didn't speak English.

    I remember the other moms not letting their kids play with me.

    It shapes you.

    I still feel like odd man out, all from the treatment back then.

    Why were there no kind families back then?