Yes. That is a rock. And that's a flower drawn on with crayon.
P, child who gave it to me, comes from a really rough background. I'm talking estranged, drug riddled parents (she's being raised by her much older grandmother, and Grandma is trying as hard as she can given the circumstances), poverty, literally no solid structure or schedule that a 7-year-old needs to thrive. Yet, despite of everything working against her, she has a heart of gold and has the potential, if she's got support and put in the right classes at school as she gets older, to rise above all of those things she can't help.
She walked in this morning wearing the same clothes she had on the day before, handed me a wadded up brown paper bag, and said, "I spent all evening looking for a flat one because I didn't have any clean, white paper at home."
I wasn't sure what she meant, natrually. I started to unravel the bag from around what it contained, and as I did, she made the comment that she knew it was just a rock, but she hoped the picture made it more special.
I could have cried, and nearly did when she asked me if I liked it. I let her pick out the spot on my desk where she wanted to sit it, and we went about our day, but I couldn't keep myself from thinking about it. I took my lunch period to go out and buy her a package of heavy white cardstock, paint and a few brushes. I put them in her backpack, and hopefully she'll stumble upon them this weekend and put them to good use.
The days all teachers have, the days when we feel like we're nothing but a colossal failure, when the stress for proficient data and scores makes everyone irritable, adults and kids alike, I'm going to look at that rock and know, that if nothing else, I'm worthy of a rock with a flower painted on it--all that a parentless, poverty stricken, sweet child has to give, and know that I'm exactly where I need to be.