Saturday, August 1, 2015

Carve a Tunnel

“Carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.” 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo by Jen Houlette
Disappointment and anger were evident in his eyes.

Tight lips and crossed arms added to his posture and I knew something was wrong.

A few rude comments from another boy had started off this day with him feeling trapped in a tunnel.

Although he initially brushed it off when I asked him, the smiles were not easy to come by on this particular morning.

We went about our lessons, reading, writing, activities to boost their skills and confidence over the summer. And before we knew it, it was time for a bit of fresh air.

I watched as he took off like a rocket, running quickly around the playground from one piece of equipment to another.

Surrounded by many other kids, but yet alone.

He took off again and coming back my way I could see the anger still in his eyes.

Running mad.

Running on the outskirts of the playground.

Running away..........from something.

As he stopped and took a break by a picnic table, I saw him rest his head in his hands.

That's when I made my move.

He didn't know me really, and I didn't know him much either. I was just the substitute summer school teacher for a handful of days, after all.

But in that moment, I was his teacher and I cared about his feelings.

It was mostly small talk at first. But it didn't take long for him to open up.

What started as a few questions......."How are you doing today?" "It's great to get outside after all the rain we've had for two days, isn't it?" "I noticed  you run fast, do you play any sports?"..........ended in a much different way.

A talk about loss. A talk about separation. A talk about dealing with anger because little disappointing things remind you of bigger disappointing things.

In a handful of minutes we talked a lot.

I made some connections with my own losses and hurt.

I instilled a little hope because I've felt the same way sometimes.

And maybe, just maybe, I carved a little light into his tunnel.


  1. Wow Jen, that is really well written! You have a gift for words that I envy.
    A beautiful, sincere and touching post.

  2. Moments like this are what makes the difference. He'll remember it too. Reading this was a lovely way to start the day.