A Kiss and a Hug Made a Difference,
Some of my teachers knew about my life at home and went the extra mile to support me.
One of my early teachers was Joan Leonard.
Mrs Leonard would give me a kiss and a hug when I arrived at school each morning, and a kiss and a hug in the afternoon before I went home. It became my daily ritual and it helped me get through. Sadly this didn’t last.
I was away from school for a while and when I returned I found that Mrs Leonard had left. She had been replaced by a new teacher.
I studied the new teacher all day, wondering if the old arrangement still applied. Would I still get my kiss and hug at the beginning and end of each day?
It was almost 3 O’clock and my classmates and I were in two lines. Boys in one line and girls in the other. We were waiting for the bell to ring for home time. The teacher stood in front, facing us. It was now or never.
I stepped out from the back of the line, walked up to the front, held out my arms and went in for a hug.
The teacher stepped away from me as though I had leprosy.
“What are doing?” she frowned.
I didn’t know what to say.
My classmates spoke up for me.
“He wants a hug,” a boy said.
“He always gets a hug,” a girl added.
Their words were echoed by other students as they explained to the teacher that a kiss and hug is what Timothy was always given at the start and end of each day by Mrs Leonard.
“Well, I’m not having that!” the new teacher growled. “Get back into line.”
This is a happy memory. While the teacher’s reaction was disappointing for me, it is the children’s voices I hear the most. They had spoken up for me and I’ve never forgotten it. As young children they had understood and accepted that I needed support. That I needed that bit extra.
I am grateful to those children, and to Mrs Leonard for the hugs and kisses.
This article was first published on Facebook and Linkedin September 2, 2021.
Copyright© Tim Tipene, 2021.