Saint, my pint-sized protector

From the moment he first saw me in the wheelchair, my ankle bandaged up, he was my protector. My little Saint.

I wheeled over to the edge of the playground where my class was happily playing. I’ve missed their smiling faces, their hugs, their sense of wonder. Catching their attention, they rushed over, all with the same question, “What happened?” All, that is, except Saint. With indignation in his voice, he points to my ankle, and asks, “Who this?” His face said it all. Being his teacher, I knew “Who this?” really meant “Who did this?”. Saint, my little three-year-old protector, wanted to know who did this to me. What happened wasn’t as important as who hurt me. Such sweetness wrapped up in such a tiny person.

Since returning to school, wheelchair-bound, my class has been curious, asking me what happened one too many times, learning to respect my boundaries (“no touching my foot please”), and wondering why I can’t do the things I normally can. The novelty for some has worn off, and preschool as they know it is back to normal. But not for Saint, whose sweet gestures bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Everyday, at random times, he comes over to me, smiles, and pats me on my arm or my leg or my shoulder, reassuring me that he cares and is worried about me. Knowing that I keep my ice packs in the freezer, he will bring me one at random, making sure I take care of my foot. He watches me, too. When the pain and swelling get to be too much, I prop my leg up on the table, an attempt to reduce the swelling that occurs from keeping it down all day. He questions, wondering what I’m doing, why I’m resting.

Yesterday during interest areas, I was wheeling around, snapping photos of students busily cooking hamburgers and salad with the playdoh, making melodies on the xylophone, or building a tower out of blocks, wondering how high they can make it until it topples over, sending them into fits of laughter, when something caught my eye.

The dramatic play area, by far the students’ most sought-after center, is too small for my wheelchair to fit, so I watch from afar, an outsider not a part of their fantasy. What I saw was Saint sitting in a chair, his leg up on the table. Lali was tending to him, bringing him a glass of water. Zooming in, I snap a picture before I ask, “Saint, what are you doing?”

With a forlorn look on his face, he responds, “My leg is hurt.”

“It is? I’m sorry. Is Lali helping you?”

Nodding, he says yes. A smile crosses Lali’s face, as she continues to care for her hurt friend. Knowing that I’d removed all the doctor stuff last week, I asked, “Would you like an ice pack?” Of course he would!

Lali came over and I handed her a no-longer-cold ice pack. She went back over and wrapped his leg. Later, his leg still on the table, another student tries to help him, using a pizza cutter as a tool. Grinning, I think, maybe I should return the doctor stuff to dramatic play.

I go about my business of tending to the other students in the class, but about ten minutes later, I look over at the dramatic play area again. There is Saint, his leg still propped up with his ice pack, sitting alone. His heart is so tender and loving, and he is just trying to make sense of his little world.

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16 thoughts on “Saint, my pint-sized protector

  1. Frances A Mccrackin

    I am glad you are past the pain and fear in earlier posts and back at school. What a wonderful post- the best teacher observations- noticing how a little person processes new, troubling information. This is such a lovely description, and so glad you also have a photo to share with your readers. Prayers for patience, healing, and staying such a receptive teacher.

    Reply
    1. aggiekesler Post author

      Thank you Frances! It’s so important for us to watch them, looking for signs of understanding, confusion, and processing. I’m glad I got a photo of the back of him, too. I wish I could post the one of him and Lali. It’s too sweet. 🙂 Thank you for your prayers!

      Reply
  2. theapplesinmyorchard

    You tell a great story here of your student who is so aware of the feelings of his teacher he is acting them out. He has such a big heart. It is a heartwarming story. Kids can take on the character traits and caring traits modelled by their teachers. He’s showing us what a good job you’ve done!

    Reply
  3. lwalpuck

    What a SWEET kid. I love the way you phrased him as “just trying to make sense of the world”. What a truth. And what a lucky place we get to be in as teachers, as we watch our students navigate this daily.

    Reply
  4. karpenglish

    Awww, that is heart-warming. I broke my ankle when my son was two and 1/4 and had ankle surgery two weeks before his third birthday. I knew I was going to have to be 100% non-weight bearing for a minimum of 12 weeks after the surgery, so we rented a wheelchair for me the day before. My little guy was fascinated, and climbed in immediately and told me his ankle was broken too. I wrapped him up in an ace bandage, and he “rested” for a few minutes before dashing off to get his best bear and bunny (he was not yet so cat obsessed- that came a few months later). He bandaged up their ankles with toilet paper, and we all sat in the sunshine with the wheelchair and had broken ankles together.

    Reply

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