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courtesy Charles Schultz
courtesy Charles Schultz

I’ve thought of Martin Richard often this week. He was the eight year old boy who died in the blast at the Boston Marathon finish line. Eight year old boys were half of my world each April for thirteen years. Surely, some were still seven but they were getting close to eight. They had the same humongous teeth that were in Martin Richard’s face. The same vitality oozed from their pores.

I was fortunate that in thirteen years in the classroom I never had a student be seriously ill or injured. I never had a student die. I can only walk through the scenario in my brain.

It is part of the planning process. What will I do when such and such happens? How will I deal with this or that? How do I deal with so and so? Rarely did I plan how I would deal with things that tore my soul open. And things did happen that tore me open. My own emotions came after the kids’. Always, my soul was the last on the list.

I picture Martin as a second grade boy. I’m not sure if he was but most likely he was moving through towards third grade. Second grade boys. I know about them. They might have a best friend. A buddy joined at the hip. Two heads together planning, building or dreaming. Did Martin have one?

Second grade boys move in a pack. While there are besties, there are always a group of boys. Arguing about the game of tag. Developing a new form of soccer. Laughing uproariously when the teacher slid off her chair. Teasing each other about the girl who writes one of them love notes. Lending a hand when someone gets hurt on the playground. Who were the faces in Martin’s pack?

I wonder if he was a reader or a math wiz. Did he like to draw or would he crumple his paper in frustration when it wasn’t perfect? Did he build his Lego buildings by following the guides or were they free form? Was he an Angry Birds boy or did he love Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker?

Was he kind and giving? Did he squint when he read the board? Was his laugh wild and joyful or quiet, hiding behind his hand? Did he whisper secrets in his teacher’s ear? Did he tell jokes? Did he hide books on dinosaurs, dragons, snakes, or sharks in his desk? Or was it a book of poems?

I have had many eight year old boys in my life. Each one has been a gift. Yes, even the ones that made me seethe in frustration. Even the stinkers or shirkers or thieves. I have loved each one of them.

I guess, in my scenario, I would talk to the class about not understanding why Martin died. I would plan a project to honor him. I would keep a close eye on the class to see who wasn’t coping. I would try to find someone to help the class through the tragedy. I would be glad it was late April, so we could relax a little as the year began to wind down. We would sing songs, read poetry, study the solar system to sooth their wounded hearts.

Then I would cry in the car all the way home.

R.I.P Martin Richard[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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