A Yellow Disc

We have discs, attached to each of the 18 desks in the room.

Blue means I’m good, I’m working, I’m okay.

Yellow, the flip side, means I need help, I’m confused, but I’m still working, even while I wait.

Quiet work time is truly quiet now; no one dances around, hand waving in the air, panting exaggeratedly, just to make sure their desperate hand is seen.

Just turn your disc, go on to another task, another problem, and it won’t be long before a teacher appears, ready to explain the directions, check your work, clear your confusion and set you on the right track once more.

I’m rather a fan of the disc system.

But today, this afternoon, it’s nearly time for dismissal and we’re doing penmanship. Our weekly practice in patience, posture, and the neat, looping letters of the cursive alphabet.

We write in cursive all week long, and on these Thursday workbook pages, we refine our skills.

The procedure is simple.

Trace a word, write a word. That’s it.

And they go through, and I remind them about straight backs, feet on the floor, pencil hold, as I pace the room (I’m perpetually pacing circles around that cozy upstairs room).

They’ve no need for help because it’s all right there. All write there. Alright there.

But suddenly, there in the second row, just as I’m on my way past, a hand shoots up. Then, remembering, it slips down again, only to turn his disc from blue to yellow.

I catch his upturned gaze, read the faint look of concern in his furrowed brow. Under his long, thick lashes, dark eyes meet my own; I need you, I need help, he tells me.

And I stop right there, I always stop. And it’s an immediate pivot until I’m behind him, ready to answer, to help, to listen, even as I wonder that there could be a question pertaining to the cursive copying of words such as “ice” and “fierce.”

But then, just as I’ve bent my head, turned his page slightly to read where he might be, he turns, grinning up at me, his round-faced dimples nearly swallowing me whole.

I’m just kidding, I don’t need help! He laughs gently, amused at his own joke, chuckling at the way he truly had convinced me.

And I rub his head as I step away, smiling to myself even as he turns his disc back to blue once again.

And the whole conversation was twenty second, maybe less, but I want to remember it, I wanted to write it down.

Because, of course, I’ve completely fallen for that sweet boy, as well as every other love in the 4th grade. His silliness, his mischievous smile and quick thinking brought me joy, and I never want to forget that.

And deeper still, I want to hold onto the child’s trust in that moment; trust that I saw him. Trust that I would help him. Trust that I could help him. And in the end, trust that his joke, his miniature prank, would make me smile just like it made him smile.

Because he trusts that I’m kind, that I laugh, that I enjoy being there in that classroom.

And I hope he never loses that trust.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Grandma S.
    Feb 27, 2015 @ 14:03:15

    He also trusted that you wouldn’t get mad at him.


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