Monday, March 21, 2011

It's true for us all, there are just some days when you feel like pulling out your hair dealing with other people.  By the same token, there are also days when it's very simple to notice the impact that you can have on other people's lives and well-being.  I'm fortunate enough to teach piano lessons out of my home as my full-time job.  Every week, I see such a vast variety of people walking in and out of my home.  People of different backgrounds, ethnicities and races.  Students of all ages.  Three-olds.  Teenagers.  40-year olds.  People that I, otherwise, would have never met.  Somedays, I come out feeling incredibly rewarded, like there's no better job on earth, while other days I come out feeling frustrated.  Frustrated, either with the students or--more commonly--with myself.  Today was different however.

Caleb (pronounced Ca-leeb) is in 2nd grade this year and just started coming to piano lessons about 2 months ago.  At his first lesson, his mom informed me that he has a touch of aspergers syndrome, but besides a little distraction and not making eye contact, we've done remarkably well together.  

Today, when he walked through the door, I could see a certain sadness written on his face.  He looked bothered, like something was weighing very heavily on his eight-year old mind.

What's wrong, bud?

Oh nothing.

Well, are you sure?  You're looking a little sad today.

No, I'm okay...

Well, if there is anything, I really want to hear about it.

And, without any hesitation, out it came.  The thought, today, that had given this little boy such a forlorn look in his eyes...

I don't have any friends at school.

Suddenly all the selfishness of my own mind, all the thoughts I had accrued over the course of the day, all those things that seemed so important to me this morning... it all evaporated as this little boy confided in me, his piano teacher.

Well you have a friend here.  I'm your friend.

No sooner had I uttered those simple little words did he reach over to wrap his arms around me and bury his head in my stomach.

I'm not sure that I've ever experienced anything more sobering.  Telling a little boy that he does, indeed, have a friend--I'm his friend--doesn't make me feel victorious at all.  These little words made him feel better for the moment, but I didn't do anything spectacular.  All I could do was respond as any human being would--with love. 

Nothing in the world can make you respond with more love than hearing an eight-year old boy utter such lonely words as:   "I don't have any friends at school."  

As a teacher, today was neither defeatist or victorious--just sobering.