“Tara” is one of my third graders–a very sweet, hard working, responsible, sensitive, and caring little girl. She’s already wiggled into my heart–she draws me sweet pictures saying how much she loves me as a teacher, loves to help students with their work when she finishes hers, and gives me hugs all the time. Academically, she may not get her work right the first time–but will correct an F paper into an A paper every single time. She is a truly diligent worker.
Sunday, her house burned to the ground. Her family–a low-income, non-English speaking immigrant family–lost everything but the clothes on their back…everything. Fortunately, they weren’t home when this electrical fire started, so everyone is alright–at least, physically. But they’re now without a home, a bed, food, books, toys…the mother called in sobbing yesterday(the kids didn’t go to school), and kept saying, “My children don’t have socks…I don’t have socks for my children…”
There are 5 in the family–Tara, her parents, her bigger brother Carlos (who is 13), and her little brother David (age 5). David hasn’t been able to sleep these last few nights–his beloved blankie was burned in the fire, and he is inconsolable without it.
Tara came to school today. I was stunned to see her, frankly. Her face was red and puffy, and far more emotionally weary than is meant for a young child. She gladly accepted my welcome hug, and the little gifts I’d set aside for her (some crayons, markers, a notepad, a book, a lunchbag) to take home. Once in the classroom, she started crying right after the Pledge of Allegiance. It broke my heart. Absolutely ripped it in half. I had to look away, or else I was going to start crying with her.
Lauren (and I do hope you know I’ve changed all names), another student, had brought Tara a new white teddy bear with a gold locket around its neck. Tara was cheered by it and carried him everywhere this morning–I couldn’t have been more proud of Lauren for her generosity and kindness in friendship. Lauren was a true encourager today–helping Tara finish work, playing with her at recess, showing her how to work some of the toys she’d brought from home to give to her friend.
By recess, Tara was laughing and playing tetherball. She finished all of her classwork today, and never cried after her difficult morning. By afternoon, she was very drained, but still completed all of her work. The routine of school is very good for her, apparently–it takes her mind off of the disaster that is at “home.” (Her family is staying with relatives right now.)
Well, crud, now I’m crying. This isn’t fair, gang. Big surprise; it is life, isn’t it?
But it isn’t fair, dammit.