Posted on December 1, 2023

David: The Final Chapter - Gebo's

After the first few weeks,  David had still not settled in very well.  He was still too rough with the other students, tried to tear apart any book I handed him, and ran around the room like a little cyclone. By this time, my aide was long gone. She was only there the first week. ( I think she was relieved to go!)   However, I found an ally in an unexpected place; the Pre-K teacher next door.  

She gave me board books that even David couldn't rip apart along with several suggestions to keep him interested and engaged. As long as he had something to occupy his hands while we were on the carpet, David listened!  So each morning before group time he got to pick a toy. I soon found that he had a desire for learning and a formidable memory.  He was also very smart once he understood how to show it.  He could answer questions that the other students often missed.  

The pre-K teacher suggested that  we let David come to her room the first half of the day. There he could learn his ABC"s, his numbers, how to count and how to socialize with other students. 

As it turned out, it was the best thing for David!  He loved getting to dance and sing and play with all the cool centers that I didn't have. And he learned! Within the first week, he was singing the alphabet song and counting. He didn't change overnight, but he was making friends and learning that all kids didn't treat him like his cousin. 

When he would come to my room for the afternoon, he was calmer.  We had gotten permission to give him a behavior chart. Depending on how his day went, he got either a smiley face sticker or a frowny face.  In the beginning, they were about equal, but as time went by, he received more and more smiley faces!  The two things David loved the most were playing on the playground and going to Walmart.   So we set goals. If he got 3 smiley faces in a row, he (and his parents) could stay late and play on the playground for an hour.  I found out that on those days, they all walked home,  over a mile, but no one seemed to mind.

If he received five smiley faces in a week, he got to go to Walmart!  (I have to admit I was more lenient sometimes, if he was close.)  How they got there, I didn't ask.  But it was working.  David was much calmer, and better behaved.  Which is why what happened next really surprised me. 

One morning, he came to school very upset.  I didn’t know what had happened at home before school.  When David went to the Pre-K class as usual, he began to scream and run around the room. He knocked down anything he could and tore up whatever was in his way.  He had been doing so well, what could have possibly brought this on? By this time it had been weeks since we'd seen this kind of behavior from David, and never to this extent.

With tears in her eyes, David’s mother explained what happened. They were not able to make it to Walmart over the weekend. Her husband’s brother had gone out of town with his family so they had no transportation, and it was too far to walk. David was too young to understand this. He had fulfilled his part of the bargain, he got five smiley faces in one week! So why was he not allowed to go to Walmart? It had been a very long weekend. 

Somehow, the semester passed.  David stopped going to the Pre-K class and spent all day with me. He never had another meltdown like that again.  It was like it had never happened. He still had problems, but day by day I saw him try harder. His parents were so proud of him, and so was I.

David never came back after the Christmas break and I could never find out why. To this day I wonder where he is and if he is ok.  He had made so much progress and changed so much. 

That was ten years ago.  I am no longer teaching, but still sub occasionally. I still think of David and remember a little blonde haired blue-eyed boy who taught me so much!

By: Gail Lindsey

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