I taught Special Ed for five years and once I had a student who, on the first day of school, held his razor scooter above his head so he could whack someone in it. I walked calmly over to him and said, “Scooter Down”. He put it down and went to his next class. I called his Vice Principal and they handled the situation.
This boy was eccentric. He had a diagnosis of mild to moderate mental retardation. Most of the students in my class were diagnosed with behavioral disabilities or learning disabilities. It was impossible or him to keep up with the other students. He refused to participate in group activities and some times would leave class or sit in the back. He always, no matter the weather, wore a black heavy coat.
He liked me a lot, though, and treated me as his confidant. He told me one day that his mom knew a secret. He said his Vice Principal knew the secret too, and so did his program specialist (this is a person who follows the kid’s with disabilities academic career from the point of their diagnosis to the age of twenty-two, if they chose to stay in the district’s educational system). I asked if I knew the secret. He said no. I asked if he knew it. He said no. I asked him what the secret was. He said he didn’t know either.
I thought this was really, really funny. I told the story over and over, laughing each time. Then his Individual Educational Plan Meeting came. The boy was late and it gave us the chance to discuss what was going on with him.
Turns out the mom was very sick from ovarian cancer. She was being treated and said that she had not told her son because he couldn’t understand that she might die. She was working mostly from home as a loan broker, which I understand to be a very high pressure job. She cared very much about her son. She made some misguided attempts at getting him to be more “normal” but it was extremely difficult to do.
Now I knew what the secret was.
I felt tremendous guilt about the way I acted. This boy had a hint that there was something happening and couldn’t do a darn thing about it. He didn’t even know what it was. But he knew we are were scared. I got these verses from Zianet.
- “Weep with those who weep” — NASB, NKJV, KJV, NAB, TEV, RSV, ASV, Lamsa, Goodspeed
- “Mourn with those who mourn” — NIV
- “If they are sad, share their sorrow” — LB
- “Mourn with the mourners” — NEB
- “Be sad with those who are sad” — NCV
- “Cry with those who are crying” — SEB
- “Share the grief of those who grieve” — Berkeley
- “Share the sorrow of those who are sad” — Phillips
I knew the verse and I should have remembered it when discussing his fears with him. But I didn’t. And I am still a little ashamed at the wait I treated his pain.