Hidden Flicker

Day 17

There’s a kid in my class I’m worried about. Nothing DCFS worthy or anything like that. And I, like most teachers, spend copious amounts of time and energy worried about most of my kids. I’m not talking about that one kid in your class that you know will one day transcend their environments, or that attitudinal stage, or previous learning deficits. Or that one kid who comes in everyday looking for fresh ways to wreak new havoc but is just so darn charming that not only is it hard to remonstrate, but you just know they will be able to get through life because they just have that inner sparkle.


I love all my kids but there are sometimes those kids, it’s awful to admit, that you have to fight hard some days to hang on to. I can always grasp something that reminds me that each of these little adorable 10 and 11 year old angel baby perfect people are worth and need empathy and TLC. Especially the ones like the kid I’m talking about. But lots of days I feel like this kid thinks their job is to find and dim any light I may be searching to find. I picture a Scrooge-like character shuffling around a darkened Dickensian setting snuffing out candles with thumb and forefinger, shoulder hunched, knowingly hustling to extinguish any illumination which might show a flicker of hope.

In a kid like this, the absence of hope means the absence of expectation. I know this. It’s this kid’s birthday today. This kid came in withdrawn, knowing that for the 100 something’th time the homework (not even homework just catching up on 30 pounds of not-done in class work) that was promised is not done. I know that face now. Zero school work out of class has been done this year, and close to that many assignments worked on in school have ever been completed. 

Happy birthday. Ugh. I didn’t even ask like I usually do first thing in the morning. Always hoping a way will be found to at least attempt completing the assignment in question before that class and its due date comes up in the daily schedule. But the 11th birthday of this child will be spent mostly in my room. I have some say so in how that goes. And yes, I am very much worried that this kid’s work ethic is going to cause stress and anxiety after no longer being on my attendance sheet next year and beyond. But it’s one day. 

If I bring up the unkept promise made just before last bell yesterday it may trigger a flood of sad that drowns the day. If I don’t, the kid might sit in anxious worry about when the hammer will drop. We can’t have food or open flame in my room for some reason but if candles could be blown out and a wish made? What would the kid want from today? I don’t know. But what I am going to do, I suppose, if hope that all my constant searches to find light within this kid every day since August will have taught me enough to figure it out as the birthday day goes on.

“‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves”

2 thoughts on “Hidden Flicker

  1. Oh, I hope you can find light for this child who tries to “find and dim” any you bring to your room full of “angel babies.” I know I’m not alone when I say I know this child, he exists in each and every classroom. But he/she/they does not have a teacher like you. Some don’t even know the birthdays of their kids, or try to find out. Some just unleash the “flood of sad” and wait for the inevitable drowning. I’ll be thinking about you both today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eddie. You are amazing. I think about how much you are already doing for this kid and know that by the end…you will be the one they remember. Keep reaching. Keep trying. Those things won’t go unnoticed.

    Side note: I mostly celebrated my birthday at school growing up! If I didn’t have cupcakes…(back then) my teacher made sure that we were all taken care of. I kind of miss how we used to acknowledge birthdays in the classroom. For some, it’s the only celebration.

    Liked by 1 person

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