J didn't want to show me the tears streaming down her face so I just started making a paper chain for her Christmas tree. She even let me use red but still refused to speak. Pretty soon she wrote me a note.
"Sarah, I'm sorry i'm not playin with you. the kids made fun of me about my hands. i'm never eating again. sorry."Turns out, a marker exploded onto her hands during indoor recess and her hands were now a shade of green - all over. The kids in her class thought that was pretty funny. She did not. I wrote a note back and asked her if she wanted me to help her wash them, and the first words she spoke to me: "Leave it alone, Sarah."
But 50 links of paper chain later, eating a lunch (I carried her tray so the kids wouldn't see the green hands), and my time off work up, she shyly asked if I could help her wash her hands. We scrubbed those hands raw for 20 minutes and sent her back to class looking less like the Grinch. And I got my huge hug goodbye.
It reminded me of a sweater I wore that my great-grandma made me - white with balls of purple and blue. While sitting in a circle in kindergarten, a boy who shall remain nameless (though don't think I don't remember his name) called it the eyeball sweater.
I cried. And never, ever wore the handmade sweater again.
So maybe it wasn't a big deal to the teacher. But J's green hands and my eyeball sweater - very big deals to a tender little heart.