Today I realized that, yes, a Snickers bar can save a soul. Even just a bite-sized Snickers bar.
Yesterday wasn't great. I was tired. Kids were crazy. Lessons failed. I had to take my victories where I could get them, even the bite-sized ones.
A student that I've never taught but somehow know (you know the kind that I'm talking about) decided that he wanted a piece of candy -- specifically the bite-sized Snickers bar that one of his friends won from me in class. So I told this student that if he had his shirt tucked in every time I saw him all day, I'd give him a piece of candy at the end of the school day.
Every passing period, outside my door, there he stood -- pointing at his shirttail which was neatly tucked in each and every time. Yet at the end of the day, he never showed for his candy.
Coming in this morning, I saw him in the hallway. When I teased him about ditching me, he told me that he'd had to go home early. I reminded him to tuck in his shirt (again) and told him to come see me after school. After all, a deal's a deal.
When he showed up today after school (with his shirt tucked in), I offered the candy jar. He excitedly grabbed his treat and made sure to say thank you. I also told him that because I trusted he had his shirt tail tucked all day (which he probably didn't), he could have another as well. His eyes got as big as saucers, and he asked me, "FOR REAL?"
I laughed and told him that I never joke about Snickers bars and that I don't trust just anyone. And then I proposed that every day I couldn't catch him with an untucked shirt, I'd pay up with a piece of chocolate.
He looked at me as though I'd just offered him 50 bucks. The disbelief was all over his face. When I reminded him that I was no joke, he was so gracious and polite that, for just a moment, I couldn't believe this was the kid I'd seen do the things I'd seen (and heard). Upon leaving, he thanked me one more time and shook my hand.
I wondered about his reaction. It seemed that any kindness, any genuine concern for him, was met with suspicion and disbelief, and it's taken me a couple of weeks just to get him to answer me when I say hello. I was saddened by it, but I'm also hopeful.
Today really wasn't that much better. Kids didn't do their homework. I was still tired. And I woke up to some awful news, but I took my small victory, and I treasured it.
Don't get me wrong, I am completely unsure that a Snickers bar can save his soul.
But it sure as Hell saved mine today.