When I walked in the room I was greeted by ten sets of pre-school eyes – bright, eager eyes. Mrs. Hall introduced me.
“Boys and girls, this is Mr. M. He’ll be spending some time with us today. He’s the school counselor and he’s a safe person.”
“Good morning Mr. M,” they chimed.
I was there to observe two students, at the request of the teacher and the parents. I sat in one of their chairs, the small ones that are only a foot off the ground. When I sit with children, I don’t want to be the big, tall, authoritative adult. I want to be one of them: non-threatening, inviting, simple. The students were just finishing a group activity, getting ready to move to their centers for small group activities. As I watched my two students, I was unaware of Timmy until he was standing right in front of me. I had never before met Timmy, but he walked right up to me, put his arms around my neck, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, “Lub you.”
Oh for the simplicity of childhood.
Timmy is not encumbered with the inhibitions of adults. He is not confined by the complications of society. He saw me, felt love (I have no idea whether the two are really connected or not), and expressed that love in the best way he knew how. There was no internal dialogue holding him back.
“What if I say that I love him and he doesn’t respond? What if I start to give him a hug, and he pulls away? Maybe what I’m feeling is just a deep appreciation. He is a school counselor, a male one at that, working in an elementary school. He has chosen a noble profession. Maybe I don’t love him, I just appreciate his efforts and his obvious passion for us children. Maybe I’m just feeling something because I don’t have a dad at home and I crave male attention. I might just be looking for male approval and acceptance.”
Timmy didn’t think. He felt, he responded. He reached out in the simplest of ways. He gave of himself without considering whether or not the sentiment would be returned.
How did I respond?
I may not be the smartest person, but I’m smart enough to recognize good teachers when I see them. And I’m smart enough to gather all I can from those teachers. Over the last few years as a school counselor, I’ve learned from the greatest group of teachers one could ever have. All my teachers are under the age of 15. I have learned to watch them, listen to them, learn from them. They have taught me how to be genuine, simple, honest, open. I have learned that everyone needs a hug sometimes, even middle school boys, who would never admit they want a hug.
How did I respond?
“Lub you too.”