I know this may come as a shock to many of you, but I’ll go ahead and admit it. I love kids. Okay, it shouldn’t be a shock at all because if you’ve ever gone anywhere with me where kids are, you’ve seen my inability to control tears welling up in my eyes at the sight of a cute baby. I can’t help it, I have a soft spot for kids in general. There was one particular kid though, who really made an impact on me when I was teaching pre-school. And this is a little story about him.
I’ll never forget him. He was the littlest three-year-old in my class with the cutest face and the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen. His name is Ethan and, even though he stole my heart the second he smiled at me, we had a tumultuous relationship from day one. He was loud, disruptive, uncooperative and completely unreasonable–to say the least. His tantrums could be heard radiating throughout the center’s thin walls on a daily basis. Ethan made many decisions that even he knew would lead to him sitting at a table in “quiet time.”
But I liked Ethan. Even though the majority of the time he was “actin’ up,” as he referred to it, when Ethan did do his work, he did it very well. When he was being cooperative he was the sweetest little kid in the entire place. I started calling him my “little green-eyed wonder” because I wondered about the two sides of Ethan and how he processed his tiny world. It couldn’t have been easy for him. He attended a rigorous pre-school program for 10 hours a day, his mom was expecting another baby, he was potty training and, on top of all that, he had a new teacher who made rules and enforced consequences for not following them!
Looking at things from Ethan’s perspective really inspired me to help put some stability back into his life in the only way I could- by putting stability in the classroom. I researched and implemented teaching techniques that slowly transformed not only Ethan’s behavior, but also the behavior of the majority of my other students. With encouragement, individual attention and a little discipline, they went from being the class of terrors that no one even wanted to visit, to being one of the most well behaved classes in the school. Ethan’s tantrums were few and far between and he was doing great on his lessons. I could see that he was slowly adjusting and it was very rewarding to be a part of the change. The classroom was much more fun as a result.
One day, as I was tucking Ethan in for a nap, he told me he was moving away. I took the information with a grain of salt and continued to pat his back and wait for him to close his eyes. Then, he looked up at me and said,
“Miss Kasey, I’m your favorite?” I couldn’t help but laugh. Was it that obvious?
“Yes, Ethan…you’re my favorite.” I said.
His parents confirmed the news later that evening and two weeks later was Ethan’s last day. His mom picked him up from school that day and thanked me for all my help with him. I asked him if I could have a goodbye hug, but he was distracted and went running out of the room, his mom chasing after him. I sat on the floor, fighting tears and continued “movie day” with the rest of my class. Five minutes later the door opened and I felt a tiny pair of arms hugging me behind my neck.
“Goodbye Miss Kasey!” Ethan screamed into my ear.
“Goodbye my little green-eyed wonder.” I said as I hugged him back.
Even though Ethan was only in my life for five months, he had such a big impact on my experience as a teacher. He tested my patience and forced me to see the world from his perspective. In doing so, I feel like it made me not only a better teacher, but a more understanding person.