22 February 2012

in the library

As you may remember, last year I had a student named Iggy, who has Asperger's Syndrome. Due to all of the social interaction and noise involved with snack and recess, Iggy typically spent these times reading in the library. One day during recess, I went to the library to check out a personal reading book, and saw a middle-schooler talking to Iggy in the beanbag reading area at the front of the library. Instantly, I felt defensive of Iggy and moved closer to eavesdrop on what the older student was telling him. Overall, the other fourth graders were usually very nice to Iggy, but you never can tell with other kids, so my mama bear instincts were kicking in a little bit. As I moved closer to their convo, the older student went into the restroom, so I became even more suspicious, and asked Iggy what the other student had told him.

Me: What was that boy saying to you, Iggy?
Iggy: He told me he thinks it's very nice that I read all the time. He said he's proud of me.
Me: Wow, that's...so nice. Did that make you feel proud, too?
Iggy: [nod]

Say whaaaaa?!?!

How great is that?! (And how judgmental was it of me to assume that the other kid was being rude to Iggy?) I was so touched by this incident that I decided to do a little digging: Who was this mysterious kind person? A card-carrying member of the "random acts of kindness" club, evidently. After digging around and discovering more about this boy's background, I was even more amazed. I discovered that his family has been through more heartache over the past few years than anyone should have to deal with in a lifetime...and he's still out there, spreading joy. Maybe I seem a little too gung-ho about this episode, but I find that middle school is often such an awkward time. Kids are growing up like crazy, and they don't like themselves all that much, and those negative feelings are often turned outwards towards other people, particularly those who can't defend themselves as well as others might. I mean, if this kid is this nice now...he's going to be one awesome person someday! (Or actually, I guess he already is!) Natch, I tracked him down to thank him for being so friendly to Iggy, and he was just as sweet as you might imagine.

So that's the story of how my faith in humanity was restored...in the library.

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