Thank Goodness for Tessa


At the end of our play today, relief fell upon my students’ faces and they hugged each other in celebratory congratulations. I came over to high five them and tell them how proud I was. Just moments earlier, they were fidgety, squirmy, loud, and ashen – they couldn’t believe how many people came to see their show (this happens when three classes are involved, and service providers, reading teachers, and other staff – including three administrators – come, too). But when they finished their finale with arms around their partners, it was a happy time, and the applause washed over them filling them with confidence. As my AP said to me, it’s nice to see the kids feel good about themselves once in a while. (You know Tessa has been on my mind, and immediately I flashed to visions of her actually SMILING during the play, feeling proud of herself).

Everyone was seated in front of the stage chatting excitedly, eagerly looking to see the mommies, daddies, and siblings coming down the aisle for pictures and praise. In the hysteria of our happiness at the end, a small ruckus broke out from the middle of the group. All of a sudden, Tessa’s voice emerged above the others: “Donald’s crying!”

Donald did a devastatingly superior job in the play. He was fully regaled in his own costume, he mentored his partner, and he smiled and danced joyfully throughout, right in the middle of the stage. But these were not happy tears. Donald was bawling. One of the service providers was there at the time, and she and I went to sit with him to assess what was bothering him. How had he gone from utter joy to utter agony in such a short amount of time? But before we could figure out the reason for his sadness, Tessa informed us Donald was upset that his mother didn’t come to see the play.

I put my arm around Donald and told him that I had it on videotape for Mommy to see. That I know he must be so sad but that he did such a wonderful job. That Mommy will be proud when she sees it and hears about it. Inside, I wondered whether there was some kind of emergency with his mom – she’s not the type who would miss something like this.

Luckily, the service provider was able to sit with Donald while I attended to the other issues that happen post-play – directing parents to the office to sign kids out, taking pictures, collecting materials, etc. Finally, though, she had to go, and so did we.

So we lined up – incidentally, Donald is line leader this week – and I noticed someone right behind him. Do you remember how I wrote about Tessa, how she sticks out in the class for her height and lack of confidence? Well, today she stood out for something quite different.

As Donald lined up, it seemed that Tessa was attached to him, holding him in a grip she wouldn’t soon relinquish. She had her arm on his shoulder, saying sympathetically, “It’s okay, Donald. It’s okay.” It was such a motherly thing for her to do, I wonder if it lessened the pain Donald felt not having his own mother there today.

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One response to “Thank Goodness for Tessa

  1. Pingback: What’s Inside the Mystery Envelope? « From the Desk of Mr. Foteah

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