16: Erasing the Lines

16: Erasing the Lines

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers

Erasing the Lines

Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it.

~L. M. Montgomery

“I can’t believe you drove from Florida to Tennessee to attend my wedding today,” said Kyle, as tears filled his eyes. We embraced and talked in a private room in the church while groomsmen paced outside the open door and checked their watches. In a few minutes, the marriage ceremony would change Kyle’s life. It was a milestone for me, too, because I had been his second grade teacher and mentor for the past twenty years.

It had started when Kyle was assigned to my second grade classroom. “Too bad you have Kyle in your second grade class this year,” remarked his first grade teacher as she scanned my roster. “He won’t do a thing for you.”

The first day of class, I approached the thin, sad-looking boy with messy blond hair, slumped at a desk labeled with his name. “Welcome to my class, Kyle,” I said. He looked at the floor and didn’t respond. When I helped him with his assignments during the week, I noticed he didn’t finish his work and his writing was messy. He attempted some lessons, but as soon as he penciled in his wrong answers, he changed them by erasing the lines again and again. The black marks on his papers seemed to underscore his failures.

During a conference with his grandmother, who was raising Kyle and his brother, she confided that his parents had family problems. She added, “I thank the Lord he got you for a teacher. He never liked his teacher before, and he adores you.” Unfortunately, several months later Kyle’s brother became involved with the wrong crowd and the grandmother moved the boys to Tennessee.

Years later, I responded to a knock on my front door and discovered a tall teenager balancing on a skateboard. “Remember me? Kyle?” he inquired. Suddenly, I remembered that struggling student in my second grade class. He said he’d traveled to Florida to see his father… and me.

After that, Kyle began to visit me when he was in town each summer, and we talked about his life, the importance of making good choices, and the reasons I was proud of him. He graduated from high school, started his own landscaping business, bought a new red truck, and moved into his own apartment.

And now he was getting married.

Organ music signaled the beginning of the wedding ceremony, and a man in a tuxedo leaned into the open door of the private room and announced, “Time to go, Kyle.”

The groom wiped away his tears, took my hand and looked into my eyes. He said, “I didn’t have a good family, but I was lucky my grandmother and you influenced my life. I’m grateful God gave you to me.” Then, as he was leaving, he said, “By the way, Mrs. Hill, I don’t make those black marks from erasing the lines anymore.”

I wiped away my tears.

~Miriam Hill

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