Wednesday, December 1, 2010

the eyeball sweater

Today I went to see my fourth grade buddy at the school where we both mentor. My friend, J, is super sweet despite her need to always establish I am a Crip and not a Blood. Usually she greets me with a hug and huge grin. Today she was curled up in a ball with her jacket hiding her face. I asked the teacher what was wrong and he said "oh not a big deal."

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.


  1. I've definitely had days like that. It's amazing how much people can overlook what a few words can do to a child's tender heart.

  2. I agree with Stumbling-It's amazing what a few words (even not said) can do for child. Thank you for being a mentor to her...