The classroom has pink puffballs that hang from the ceiling at all different heights. All of the borders on the bulletin boards are polka dot and they encase the children's work. The classroom smells like glue and markers in just the right way and it brings me back to my childhood when I wore bows in my hair and always wore a dress. The light shines through the window and it warms my goose bump filled skin. It looks so peaceful outside, but it is complete mayhem inside! Children are playing with puzzles (really fighting over which piece is theirs), the bathroom door opens and closes quicker than a roller coaster at Disneyland, children are yelling for me to help them with spelling, other children need to be comforted because they just said goodbye to their parents, and some children are running tornadoes. It is the perfect Kindergarten classroom, just the right amount of fun and strictness.
Little Herber comes up to me in his usual blue and white striped shirt, jeans, and white Converse. He immediately puts his head into my stomach and starts balling. I feel his warm tears soak into my thin shirt as I reach for him. I start to tickle him and realize how I love the way his face lights up as he laughs even when tears are going down his face. He laughs and laughs until he is hunched over. Once I relieve him from the tickle monster he says, "Miss Mary, I love you more than I love my Mom."
"Oh Herber, that is not true. You love your Mom!"
"But Miss Mary, my tummy is growling and it hurts. Mommy didn't have enough food to give to me so she ate it all."
"Well good thing I always have goldfish crackers for you!" He eats his goldfish in the corner away from the other children. Little Herber is my favorite child. He is sweet, thoughtful, funny, a hard worker, kind to others...the list goes on and on. His family life is extremely difficult. The Dad didn't stay around long enough to ever see his wonderful smile. The mom is too high to even notice she has a child. He knows nothing different. Everyday he comes in and cries to me for a little bit about being hungry and then he goes on being his cheerful little self. I wish his parents knew him the way I know him. He tells me sweet stories when I have had a bad day and I end up laughing until I ache all over. He sits with me when it is lunch and recess time. When he really needs to concentrate on his work he bites his top lip and always tells everyone to be quiet as he tells his brain that it needs to work. His parents know nothing of his little quirks and it saddens me immensely.
I often think that although I am not Herber’s mother, I sometimes feel as if I am. Which must be similar to how Helaman must have felt for his warriors. The story of Helaman and the Stripling Warriors is found in the Book of Mormon. The Stripling Warriors were about 12 years of age and Helaman was their leader. Helaman shows how he is a father to the warriors by calling the stripling warriors his little sons, praying for them, worrying for them, giving them hope when they are discouraged, and showing them how to be strong. I am Herber’s Helaman. I feed him when he is hungry, I quiet his fear, I wipe away the tears from his face, I hold his hand when he is nervous, I help him with his schoolwork, I watch after him, I show him how to be strong, I pray for him, I worry for his welfare when I am not around, and I love him unconditionally.
I come back to reality when I hear little Herber’s voice pipe up, "I'm done with my snack Miss Mary. I love you more than all the stars in the sky!"
"I love you more than all of the people in this world! Now go sit with the other children and I'll come get you when it is your turn to practice sounds." What saves this little boy everyday? I don't know. I do have my assumption that it is his exquisite personality though. His personality reminds me of the pink puffballs that hang in the classroom. They are cheerful. They make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. There are so many layers to them and you can never find the core. Herber, my little pink puffball.