From Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

A Hug from a Teenage Boy

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.


Fifteen years spent in the field of education have provided me with many treasured moments. One of the most endearing happened when I was teaching second grade, 10 years ago.

In May of the fourth quarter, I decided to plan something special for the children: a Mother’s Day tea. We put our heads together to come up with ideas of how to honor our mothers. We practiced singing and signing songs. We memorized a poem. We made sand candles and wrapped the min hand-stenciled, white paper bags tied with pretty ribbons. We wrote and decorated individual Mother’s Day cards.

We decided to hold our tea the Friday before Mother’s Day. Each child took home an invitation with an RSVP at the bottom. I was surprised and relieved to see that every mother was planning to attend. I even invited my own mother.

Finally, the big day arrived. At 1:45 that afternoon, each child lined up at our classroom door in anticipation of the arrival of his or her mom. As it got closer to starting time, I looked around and my eyes quickly found Jimmy. His mother hadn’t shown up and he was looking stricken.

I took my mother by the hand and walked over to Jimmy. “Jimmy,” I said, “I have a bit of a problem here and I was wondering if you could help out. I’m going to be really busy introducing our songs and our poem and pouring the punch. I was wondering if you could maybe keep my mother company while I’m busy. You could get her punch and cookies, and give her the candle I made when it’s time.”

My mom and Jimmy sat at a table with two other mother/child teams. Jimmy served my mom her treats, presented her with the gift I had made, and pulled out and pushed in her chair, just as we had practiced the day before. Whenever I looked over, my mother and Jimmy were in deep conversation.

I tucked that special memory away. Now, 10 years later, I work with students of all ages, educating them about the environment. Last year, I was at a high school to take a senior class on a field trip, and there was Jimmy.

We spent the day in the badlands of Montana. On the way back, I had the students complete an outline of the day’s events, a short test and an evaluation of our trip. As I collected the student booklets, I checked them to see that everything was complete.

When I came to Jimmy’s evaluation page, he had written, “Remember our Mother’s Day tea we had in second grade, Mrs. Marra? I do! Thanks for all you did for me, and thank your mother, too.”

As we began unloading at the school, Jimmy made sure he was the last one to go. I told him I really enjoyed what he had written. He looked rather embarrassed, mumbled his own thanks, and then turned to walk away. As my bus driver began pulling away from the curb, Jimmy ran back and knocked on the bus door. I thought he had forgotten something. He jumped back on board and gave me a big hug. “Thanks again, Mrs. Marra. No one even knew my mom didn’t make it!”

I ended my work day with a hug from a teenage boy who had probably stopped hugging teachers years ago.

Nancy Noel Marra

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