Remember Connor*, the student who gave me a beautiful package of chocolate one morning? This chocolate was only one of the grace moments listed in my last post. But let me tell you about Connor and why his gift was significant.
Connor entered my classroom door this fall, intelligent, excited, and eager to learn. Only a few weeks of the term had passed, however, when I realized that Connor brought additional challenges to my classroom. Was I prepared?
Typically, by the time children are six years old, they understand a few things about life and authority. I am under authority. My parents and teachers love me. They tell me what to do and I need to follow their instructions. Failure to follow these instructions results in consequences.
Connor did not understand these ideas very well, and it became apparent that we needed to begin at a grass-roots level with him. A simple command such as “Class, please put away your books” seemed to be interpreted in Connor’s mind as an optional action based on his mood. For Connor’s well-being, we needed to be proactive.
So conversations happened. Conversations with my principal. Dialogue with the parents. Hard, honest dialogue. And then, the chocolate appeared.
It was a Thursday morning, when Connor bustled into my classroom and proudly handed me a beautiful package of chocolate. “Happy Thursday”, the note read.
“Thank you, Connor,” I exclaimed happily. “I love chocolate!”
Later, I mentioned the gift to my students. “Look what Connor gave me! It’s chocolate and I’m not going to share!” I joked, knowing how much the students love my comments about their gifts. Connor smiled happily. Meanwhile, my mind was busy. “Such a lovely gesture of appreciation from his parents. It is significant, coming after that honest conversation with his dad last night. This is truly another grace moment!”
Several days later, I shared some grace pieces of my school year with a few co-teachers. With the rough weeks I had experienced, it was good to reflect on places of grace. When I mentioned the chocolate from Connor, a few of them began to chuckle.
“Miss Kuhns,” said a smiling co-teacher, “That chocolate wasn’t actually from Connor.”
“Of course it was,” I exclaimed, slightly puzzled. “He gave it to me on Thursday morning.”
The chuckles esculated to hearty laughter as the explanation became clear. “That chocolate was from me,” she said. “I wanted to bless you and put it on your desk anonymously. But I couldn’t find a good chance to slip into your classroom. Connor happened to be in the hallway just then, and I pulled him aside and told him, ‘Go give this chocolate to Miss Kuhns!’”
We enjoyed more hearty laughter over this misunderstanding. Suddenly I realized that this was indeed another piece of grace. Was it co-incidence that Connor happened to be in the hallway at the right time? Maybe that morning, he needed the bit of extra attention and affirmation he got from being the chocolate giver. Either way, it was another positive moment in my relationship with Connor. No, I cannot attribute this to coincidence.
Indeed grace is present in both the tough and the delightful. And we continue to move forward with joy!
*Name changed to protect identity.
CONTRIBUTOR: Ruth Anna Kuhns