Saturday, March 22, 2008


The other day during bus dismissal I was reminded that children represent the best of what mankind can attain. 

I was chatting with a former first grade student that I affectionately call 'cupcake' - this is the artist, who after I remarked on the beauty of one her drawings last year replied "I don't go to art school for nothing" - she is truly outstanding in so many ways.  

I remember vividly her coming into the classroom last April and telling me that she was lucky. When I asked her why she said it was because she had long hair.  She spoke this without boastful pride or conceit. She simply enjoyed the fact that her hair was so long, past her waist, and was feeling blessed by that. 

This exchange becomes especially touching given our conversation last Thursday before she skipped off to her bus.

Gary: Wow!  Your hair is really long now.
Cupcake: I know.  And soon I am going to cut it off and give it to the kids who have cancer.
Gary:  Why are you going to do that?
Cupcake: So they won't die.

Oh, boy!  Imagine a seven-year-old with this incredible generosity and belief. Not only is she willing to part with something that brings her happiness but she believes that in doing so it can save someone's life.  I stood there amazed.  Truly amazed by this little girl with the bright smile and dimples.  

I think I could have been knocked over by a feather at this point - color me moved and amazed. I just knelt there smiling at her like an idiot.

And to finish me off she added...

Cupcake: And I am going to give my old clothes that don't fit me anymore to little kids who don't have a home so they can keep warm.

Tell me again, who is the teacher?


Joy Keaton said...

Isn't that beautiful? At what age would you estimate we lose that?

ciara said...

a child who knows what it means to be kind and giving....i LOVE it.

lettuce said...

children are wonderful

i've been sat here pondering the same question as Joy
and also thinking how children can simultaneously make the sadness and awfulness of the world seem so much worse, but also so much more bearable

Dumdad said...

That is so touching. I'm an Englishman with a stiff upper lip but I think it would have been quivering if I had been there!

Florecita said...

See Love is here right within us... let us be open to share with every single thing we can do... like your Cupcake... if I were her teacher I would have eat her!!!! cause Im a cakeholic!!!!

lynda said...

I feel that you should frame this artwork, if you don't it will be lost. It's important that you grasp this moment in the child's life and you can frame that moment in the child's life. As a teacher you need to grasp this moment in time.

Mikey T said...

i feel like such a loser. I cut my hair off for aesthetic reasons and it was swept away. Thank you for the humbling reminder that it's not always about me. Its amazing what kids can teach us.

Evie said...

It's a beautiful story. Makes us adults take a huuuuge perspective on our lives..

Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

A wonderful story and great art. I don't think people lose it as adults but just repress it in order to pursue what they consider to be more mature activities.

travelling, but not in love said...

Innocence of youth, generosity of spirit, waist length hair....I was like that once too (apart from the waist length hair and the generous spirit).

Look at me now.

What happened?

d. chedwick bryant said...

Children are wonderful, and some of us parents are very blessed to have grown kids who have not outgrown wonderfulness!

WAT said...

Dear Gary,

This post makes me sad in a way, because even though I still try to be empathic, sensitive, and caring, I often feel bitter, cynical, and jaded.

How do I cope so as to not let the negative get a hold of me now that I am an adult?

mouse (aka kimy) said...

we can all learn so much from cupcake. we all could benefit from looking inward to find the cupcakes that live in our own cupboards....

thanks for sharing this inspiring and true story!!

hey in one week I'm going to meet you!!!! eek! I'm psyched!!!!!!!

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

As usual, handsome man, a great story. And, really, that is my view of education, too. I don't see the "teacher/student" duality as productive - we are all learning from each other - so let's admit it!

la bellina mammina said...

Wow! She's way mature for her age. How touching. I've been teaching my kids about the plight of less fortunate kids - not easy for them to remember at times, but from time to time, they volunteer to give away their toys or make donations whenever we can. It has to start somewhere...

Gary said...

Bella - One of the things I have been questioning since my discussion with this little girl is "how do you raise a child to think like this?" One friend told me that it is by setting a good example for our children and talking about these things. But I can't help but feel it is kind of a crap shoot in a way. That perhaps there is a tendency in each of us to either be empathetic to varying degrees or not. But then again I have also noticed that the kids who have the least are the ones who tend to give selflessly while those who are 'spoiled' loath to part with anything.
However, I am sure that your kids are getting a fantastic role model with their generous, beautiful mom!

JDZS - Spoken like a true educator. I am with you in that philosophy and readily admit that children are constantly teaching me new things - or at least reminding me of things I have long forgotten.

Kim - Yippee!! I am looking forward to meeting you and having you meet everyone at school (the kids, Lauren, my little cupcake). I'll shoot you an email with more details...

Dear Wat - Well, all hope is not lost if you 'try' to be all of those positive things. I can offer you something that works for myself whenever I get to feeling cranky (as I was this morning after reading about how President Bush has f*$%#ed up our country) and that is to take the focus off of myself and give out love and energy. For me this is usually directed towards the children I teach, so I have a sorta built in 'upper'. When I totally give my focus to being present with whatever is happening with them any negative feelings I have brewing fade away. Have you thought about volunteering your time to go read at a local school or tutor a struggling student? I feel like Dear Abby but putting out good vibes tends to lift one's spirit. I do look forward to chatting with you some time - possibly this summer - about all of this in more detail.

Ched - Do tell, I didn't know you had children. How wonderful that they retained their 'wonderfulness'. What is your take on making it last?

Not in Love - LOL. I love the way your comment wound it's way around to leaving only innocence of youth. I checked out your blog to confirm the hair length but alas could find no picture. Thanks for visiting - please come back now y'hear?

JT - Yes the responsibilities of being an adult do make such things more difficult. Still...some manage to do it all. I guess it is a matter of wanting to in the first place and then making it a priority in your life. I think everyone could find a little time to volunteer or give back in some way if they really wanted to do that.

Evie - Yes, it does. And it is nice that we can be reminded of this every once in a while. Thanks for visiting my humble blog, I appreciate the comment.

Mikey - YOU CUT OFF YOUR BEAUTIFUL HAIR! Went and pulled a Britney did ya? (See how I make the connection with your blog :) I hope I get to see it before it all grows in again. July is looking good!

Lynda - I really shouldn't give you a Manhattan before allowing you to comment on here. It sounded so much better in person. LOL.

Florecita - Love is right here indeed!

Dad - I love it - my little cupcake made an Englishman quiver. It was even more powerful in person so I think you certainly would have quivered a bit. And that fact that you say it was touching makes me happy because that was the intention. I had to stop myself from writing too much and just keep it simple.

Lettuce and Joy - I think other folks have weighed in on your question somewhat. But I agree with you Letty, children are wonderful.

Ciara - She does indeed.

Reya Mellicker said...

There are good people of all ages. Your students are lucky to have you, and you're lucky to have them. Oh yeah!!

And ... of course you're a twin! I remember you've mentioned it. Twice as nice!

Steve said...

I meant to comment on this days ago but I guess I didn't -- a wonderful story! The lines are always blurry between teaching and learning, it seems to me.


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