That’s Okay

I don’t even know her name.

And yet I am certain that I see her each day.

I want to know her name. I really do. And I am quite certain that I could do a better job of learning students’ names. Make more of an effort. Maybe take the yearbook home at night. Or possibly go into classrooms and play some sort of name-game. That might help me learn more of their names. So that when she passes by me in the hallway. Or gives me a hug or a high five when they enter, I could at least

But not only do I know his name, I know his story. I know why he is upset today, why he was upset yesterday and why he may be upset tomorrow. When he gives me a high five, or most likely a hug, it’s different. Because he and I have spent many hours together. He knows about my family and I know about his. I know what song calms him down and he’s heard songs that calm me down. He doesn’t always like mine.

Despite the fact that I don’t know her name, she always seems happy to see me. Does she notice that I don’t know her name? Am I able to get away with a warm greeting and worn out joke? I sure hope so. I would hate to think that she is waiting for me to remember, or learn, her name. If I knew that was the case I would learn it right away. Put it on flashcards and be waiting at the door the next day. So that I could be the first person she sees. And I would say good morning……… are you today? 

Here he comes. And I can see that he is angry and that this may be a tough day. I need to get to him quickly. Remind him of what we talked about yesterday. When we ate lunch together and discussed our weekends. This seems to have worked. For now. I know his mom will be checking up on him later and I really want to be able to give her a better report than yesterday.

I think it was her report card that I just proofread. I think, but I’m not sure. Five A’s and one B. Wow! Why is it that I can’t picture her? I’ve narrowed it down to three possible girls. In fact, I’m sure she’ll be a name that I’ll call at the end of the year when we give out awards. At least then I will be able to put a face to a name.

He’s made it to lunch without any major meltdowns. I am so proud of him. Especially considering all that he has on him right now. We are definitely calling his mom. She will be so proud. Unlike yesterday, when he just couldn’t keep it together. His face beams the whole time he is talking to her. Now, I just hope he can finish the day strong. I know his teacher will do all she can to see that he does.

I see her heading towards the office and I know she’s not in trouble. She is leaving early for a dentist appointment. As she and her dad walk out the front door, I almost feel as if I recognize him. But I’m not sure. His face looks familiar. Maybe I’ll go check the sign out sheet so that I can see if she is who I think she is.

But as I step towards the office I see that he is having a tough time. I move quickly and take him by the hand. He is not happy with me because he knows where we are headed. My office. Where he can calm down. And we can talk. Once he’s ready. After a few minutes he tells me why he was so upset. I listen. To him. We’ve had this discussion many times. And we’ll probably have it many more. I’m hopeful, but I’m also aware of the fact that he needs me.

To know his name.

And I do.

I know it well.

And he knows that.

It’s taken a while. But he trusts me. Feels comfortable talking to me. Most days. Because I have taken the time to not only know his name, but his story. He needed someone to tell it to. Someone to share it with. I’m just glad that I was able to be that person.

The above piece is realistic fiction and is not based on any students or situation in particular. Having mentioned that, it is not unlike many of my days.

And you know what?

That’s okay.

I began this piece frustrated. Frustrated that there are children I see everyday, whose names I do not know. That is because I spend a disproportionate amount of time working with a small number of children. Who need me. And as long as they do, I will be there.

I am no longer frustrated.

I am honored because I feel needed.

The next day I gave her a hug and asked her how her trip to the dentist went. She said it went well and that she and her dad went out to eat afterwards. I asked her if she brought me anything. She smiled and headed on to class.

He ran past me so fast that I almost didn’t get to give him a hug. He promised me that he was going to have a good day. I told him I believed him. And as he was walking away I heard him say, “see you later Mr. Harper.”


  1. As I read this, I could see so many faces of the students that I can never remember their names because they melt into the background of my classroom. I hope that my students never feel that I don’t want to know their story. Such a thought provoking piece…

  2. Howdy! This blog post could not be written much better! Going
    through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I am going to send
    this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read.

    Thanks for sharing!

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