Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Motor Runs and Runs and Runs

He has tugged at the heart of every teacher in my hallway. Each day he arrives running and each day he leaves running. He also runs in-between. His motor is revved up, going fast, spinning out of control, making turns, making stops, revving again, rolling, pivoting, darting, and diving. He talks constantly. He is very smart, has great auditory awareness, answers, asks, demands, informs, lectures, and laughs with more enthusiasm than a cheering squad. His bright shiny face usually has a beautiful smile unless he has been scolded one too many times. Then he cries. He cries because he cannot control himself. He cries because he is exhausted. He cries because he wants to conform but cannot.

Yesterday he sat in the hallway crying when it was time to go home. He had taken his shoes off so he could put on his boots but then decided to put the shoes back on again. The laces were too tight and he could not get his shoes on. All the other students had left for the playground. He could not get there first. He could not even leave because those shoes would not go on. “What is wrong?” I asked.

“I can’t get my shoes on,” he whimpered.

“Where are you boots?”

“In my bag.”

“Put your boots on, there  in snow on the playground.”

He took off his shoes, still sniffling and whimpering, and put on his boots. He picked up his bag partially stuffed with shoes and zipped down the hall with his head down. There was no good-bye. He was late. Each teacher he passed spoke to him but his head stayed down as he exited. He tugs at all of us. We want the best for this bright beautiful boy but cannot control his motor any more than he can.

Medication? Diet control? What would help him you wonder. It is not for us to decide. We are not his parents. We can only offer up options and let them make the decision. It is heart wrenching for all.


  1. Wow ... I've had students like that. Maybe not exactly, but enough of a mystery to feel it in my heart every day that there has to be some way to reach him/her. What I found, I think, is that I can only do the best I can do, and show compassion and structure, and be confident that it will make a difference. Maybe not today. Some day.

  2. Think of how lucky he is to live in a place where there is a school with compassionate teachers who know how to help him fell supported, and where there is help if his parents decide to take whichever path they choose. I have seen many students like him in Mexico who fall through the cracks; brilliant and failing because they cannot conform to sitting for 6 hours a day quietly while teachers continue to preserve traditional teaching methods. He is one of the lucky ones.

  3. As I read, several faces popped up in my head. You described him so vividly. If we could only bottle up that energy and share it with others...and take it off his plate. It sounds like he is surrounded by compassionate and understanding individuals who will give him the support that is needed.

  4. What a great character sketch and what a lucky boy. I, too, have had a child like this in class. He is so lucky that the teachers who surround him each day support him.

  5. I'm wondering, will cuts disturb the one home he truly has?

  6. You described some of our students to a "t". I could feel his motor running and not stopping. Your words really made me have a glimpse of how this feels to him.

  7. Lovely, perfect picture drawing with your words today. That could have been my son. I had a kid who just couldn't settle down at all, and always seemed to be just one taco short of a combo plate. But with the grace of God and many many loving and kind teachers, he made it through those awful years, graduated high school, college and has an MBA. He's transformed himself, catching a glimpse somewhere of how to put it all together.

    I talked to my neighbor across the street today who has one like this (she's a grandma raising her grandchildren) and she cried, wondering what was in store for him. It's too early, I said. It's too early to know.

    And that old tired phrase popped into my head: It takes a village. I think it's used a lot because it true. And you contributed to the raising of that child today. Kudos to you.

    Elizabeth E.

    P.S. I loved your comments on my blog today (via your grandmother): get into nature. I'm having a much better day today, and thanks.