KINDNESS2 * PATIENCE = HOPE
Last fall, I took over the job of librarian for a large elementary school in a small town in the desert. The population of our K-5 school is right around 950 depending on the day of the week. Over 90% of our school population qualifies for Title 1. These kids come from every background you could imagine and some that you would never want to imagine. Most of them are good kids; some would try the patience of Blessed Mother Theresa.
Just after the first of the year, a new girl came to our school. Let’s call her “Betty”. Betty is a fourth grader, although I think she’s much older than the kids in her class. She walked into our school with not just a chip on her shoulder, but a whole, Costco sized bag of Ruffles. I soon discovered that this girl's homelife was terrible. No sense of security at all; parents who should have been made to take a test before they could have children. You know the type.
When she came into the library with her class, she was ALWAYS in the midst of the kids who caused chaos. Yes, I’d call her an instigator. She was disrespectful, rude, and a real smart ass. She never checked out a book. I finally had to tell the teacher that this class could not come down together. Most of the problems are caused by a small handful, with Betty in the center. It would become a feeding frenzy of obnoxiousness that the teacher couldn’t curb. So, we started having the kids come down 4 or 5 at time and only those who really wanted to be there to get books.
Two weeks into this plan, in walks Betty. Honestly, I was not clasping my hands with glee to see her. But, my philosophy is that every time a student walks through that library door, it is a new, fresh visit.
She checked out two books, not hardly saying anything except her name. When she was done, she left with a sneer. I told her to “have a nice day. And you’re welcome.”
Today Betty came in again and turned in her books. I thanked her and invited her to pick out two more. About 5 minutes later, she approached my desk with another girl. “We both picked the same books,” she said to me as I looked at the duplicate copies in each girl's hands.
“It’s always fun to have a book buddy,” I told her as I processed her books. When we were done, I told her, “Betty, this was a really good visit. It’s been a pleasure. You have a great afternoon.”
And before she turned to leave, she looked at me and.....smiled.
So you have to ask yourself this: What part am I playing in a child's life whether that child is one of my own, a neighbor, or a stranger? Remember that something you may say or do WILL have an impact that child. One need only decide if that will be positive or negative. You never know, that smile or that word of encouragement may be the only ray of hope for them. Without hope, what is there?
I can only wish that that little moment in our library has imbedded itself in her heart, and one day she will remember how it made her feel to have someone praise her and wish her something as simple as "a great afternoon."