It brought me back to another baby lizard drama. It brought me back to a student I will call Rick. He loved lizards, especially the tiny ones. He thought of them as pets. And he loved catching lizards. He was really good at it, a champion of sorts. It required his laser sharp focus, and was the only time in his day that he could focus and be still. So I hated to take it away from him, but it caused a lot of trouble because he could not resist his impulse to put his trophy in his pocket, bring it into class, and release it at some point. Yea, that went well every time.
After a talk one morning, where I explained to Rick that he couldn’t do it anymore and why – and I meant it… he nodded and said he wouldn’t. And, true to the challenges of his ADHD, he did it anyway. Fifteen minutes later as I picked up the class, children were yelling to me that Rick had done it again. I looked at him, and he looked at me with his beautiful large dark brown eyes. His eyebrows were arched in an attempt to look innocent. No way buddy. “Show me what is in your pocket.”
He pulled out a tiny baby lizard. It was clearly dead. Smooshed. He jostled it around a little and said, “It must be sleeping.”
“Rick, I am sorry. That guy is dead. He was not big enough to handle the smooshiness of your pocket.” I will never forget the look on his face. Devastated. Totally surprised and devastated. He started to cry. He was crushed that he had caused this. He just wanted to play with it. It was important to him.
I start out the school year a little like this. I can hardly focus because there are so many things demanding my attention. I find the chance to focus on my students –one at a time– to be a respite from the constant pressure to get it all done. I love getting to know them. They are so very important to me already. But I have to remind myself: no smooshing. In my zeal to help them grow, in my passion to get the year off to a great start, in my rush to waste not a second, I remind myself. They are unique, fragile, small. No smooshing.