I Don’t Need Anything But You

Together at last, together forever
We’re tying a know that never can sever
I don’t need sunshine now to turn my skies to blue
I don’t need anything but you  – Annie

Today’s choir session almost broke my heart.

There I was, guiding the children’s choir through the famous Annie song. Then this kid (let’s call him Tiny Tim… you know, like the one from Scrooge?) burst into tears. Not the screwed-over-by-mom tears or the I’m-frustrated-I-can’t-get-it-right tears. This was something else.

Getting my assistant to take over, I guided the 12 year-old out of class to figure him out. In my mind, I was thumbing through the possibilities as well as their treatments… the probabilities are endless! Oh dear, don’t tell me he’s really upset about the death of his pet. I read it on his Facebook notification yesterday… and there was a sad emoticon attached. Firstly, I don’t understand how/why kids are so into Facebook… however, I’m thankful I saw it as it helped prepped the troubleshooting options in my mind then. Secondly, this is one of the few cases where children’s emoticons should be heavily considered and taken with a lot of weight. God forbid, the human form of expression has evolved to a handful of flipped symbols.

So I sat a sobbing Tiny Tim down and prompted him to speak his heart out. And I guessed right as he explained between heavy sobs how his pet of 2 years just stopped breathing. He talked about being helpless and clueless on how to revive it… about dealing with a little burial outside his home… about being confused at his current state of mourning… about confiding in his mom.

This kid had liquid pain streaming down his cheeks. It was heartbreaking to watch. As much as he gets on my nerves the odd occasion, my heart just went out to him and I had to fight back tears. I shared with him about the loss of my loved one and how death just makes us appreciate life even more… and that people who go through such tough times end up stronger… and that he was very brave to share his experience with me… and I thanked him. More importantly, I told him that it was OK to cry… even for a boy. He told me the song we were singing in the choir made him very emotional.

For a street smart, quick witted and smart-mouthed kid to wear his heart on his sleeve like that… I’m thinking he’s going to make a very good stage performer. On the flip side, I wish there was some power in me to protect children from experiencing such a raw emotion… I keep telling myself they’re not ready for this, children are supposed to be happy. But I guess some people learn life’s lessons earlier than others.

Since Tiny Tim requested for some alone time before rejoining the group, I had another colleague keep him company. Of course, the other children were concerned. I quietly explained the situation and reminded them to be supportive of a friend in need… which prompted a couple of testimonies from the choir on pet death. Tiny Tim rejoined within the hour and was seen being the hyperactive and silly class clown again… and I marvel at his recovery rate.

If only I could mirror that.

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