I was asked to write this story for the police chaplain’s newsletter. Thought I would share it with you, dear Readers, since you hear so much about my experiences:
After reading the book, A Chair for Mother, a story about a family whose home burns, one of the first grade boys raised his hand and told me, in a soft voice, that his home had also burned. And like in the story, friends and neighbors had helped restore their furnishings.
The boy, Johnny, had difficulties at school through the year. His dad had to come sit with him in class. He often missed recess due to behavior issues. During the second semester, Johnny started helping the custodian clean up the cafeteria after lunch, the time when the other first graders went to play at recess. He took direction well. He didn’t get upset when corrected and shown a better way of sweeping. He took pride in the clean floors when finished. I watched all of this from the sidelines. He still struggled to focus in the classroom, but his teacher was patient and helped him adjust his attitude, and he often sat with her at a back table while I read the weekly story to the first graders.
On the day I read A Chair for Mother, at the end of year, Johnny was able to sit on the rug with the other students. He did not shout out, but raised his hand. He did not punch or kick those sitting around him. No one complained that he was bothering them. The next day, after I received the Bounce Back Kid stickers at our chaplain’s meeting, I saw Johnny sitting in the cafeteria, calmly eating his lunch. He was always glad to see me and to talk to me. I sat next to him and told him that I was sorry he had lost his house to a fire and was proud of him for sharing at story time. I also told him how proud I was of his changed behavior and that I had a special sticker for him. I explained that a bounce back kid was someone who was able to overcome something and to go on and do well in spite of the setback.
Johnny got tears in his eyes. He took the sticker and then gave me a hug. That sticker meant a whole lot to both of us.