I've been doing theatre camps all summer. This week, I'm running one for younger students--grades 2-5. I find they work better if we jump in and hit it hard and then, about half-way through, if I give them a long break. I followed that pattern today and during the break one of the students came up to me, extending her hand.
"Dr. Bell," she said, "I have a splinter." I looked and she did, indeed, have a splinter. It was not large, but it was fairly deep.
"I'm sorry," I said. "It's in pretty deep. Maybe we should wait for you to go home and let your mom try to get it out." I was worried it would require a needle which a) I didn't have and b) didn't want to use on a sweet little third grader who was not my own child.
"No, I want you to get it out, please."
So, I took all my campers and we went to go find tweezers. We checked two locations unsuccessfully, but finally located a pair with the lower school secretary.
"Do you want me to take it out," the secretary said.
"No, I want Dr. Bell to do it." I'm not sure why she chose me, but her simple declaration gave me chills and I felt like I'd been given a great honor.
So, we sat down and I took her hand and tried to squinch up my aging eyes enough to see the splinter. I had to do some digging with the tweezers and she flinched a bit, but was very brave and didn't make a sound. Soon, we were rewarded with success.
This incident touched me deeply. Every so often, something happens that reminds me of the incredible trust I have as a teacher--the implicit faith that my students and parents have in me. It is simultaneously a sacred privilege and a terrifying responsibility.
As I took that tiny hand in my own, I had such a moment. I felt the weight of her trust that I would help her and fix the situation. I felt the burden and blessing of her confidence and trust. It made me smile and cringe at the same time as I felt both joy and terror. Joy at the beauty and sweetness of her trust and terror at the weight of the attending responsibility--of course, this is something much larger than a single sliver.
Dear Lord, please help me to always be worthy of that child's trust! Help me be a constant, if imperfect, point in her life's journey and help me, when I see my students's bright eyes reflect love and light back to them, illuminating further and never dimming.
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