day one of camp. he walked through the doors, wearing a bright blue t-shirt and the most mischievous grin I had ever seen. I thought to myself, "he is so cute, and he's gonna be nothing but trouble." I was right.
that day he didn't put up much of a fuss. kept his distance and watched me. he was 12 years old. his name was Brian, and he scrutinized me. I caught him just watching me more than once that day. Julia asked him at lunch if I was his group leader and he said, completely serious, "nah, she's my girlfriend." someone forgot to tell me. but very quickly, he took possession of me. walking by me in the hallway, slipping an arm around my waist while we were standing in the lunch line. giving me a bite of his snack. offering me water. trying to help me out when I couldn't understand what one of the other kids was saying. he would turn around in class just to smile at me. he was very touchy-feely.
it was obvious to everyone. that kid needed to be loved on.
so I loved on him.
|brian and another one of my kids: frederic|
Brian wasn't a bad kid. but he did what it took to get attention. if that meant causing a little ruckus, he would totally do it. I learned that on day one. over the course of the week, if I wasn't giving him my full attention, he would stir things up a little bit in class. even getting fussed at seemed to make him happy. unfortunately he wasn't the only boy like that in my class. out of my 6 boys, 4 of them wanted my attention all the time.I tried to divide myself evenly among them.
the last day of camp came. it wasn't even really a camp day, just a day for the kids and their parents to come and hang out. I don't think Brian's parents were there...he seemed to be alone except for a friend that he brought with him. the day ended and I was saying goodbye to my kids and watching the guys dismantle the bouncy houses. all of a sudden there was an arm wrapped around my waist. I knew who it was without even looking. he was wet from playing with the water hose, and sweaty from running around, but I didn't really mind. I put an arm around his shoulders. we just stayed like that. we walked around that way, talked to other people that way, and sometimes just stood there. we didn't say anything.
after a while, his friend came up and said something to him in Slovak. Brian protested, but the kid was insistent. Brian shrugged his shoulders and shifted his position so that we were in a full hug. he was squeezing the life out of me. he wouldn't let go either, so I just kept hugging him. we stood there, outside under a darkening sky, just hugging. we stood there for a long time. people walked past, kids ran home, parents called their goodbyes in Slovak and in English. the guys got all the bouncy houses put away. and Brian and I still stood there.
finally, he loosened his grip slightly. he looked up at me. he had blue eyes that usually had some impish plan in them, but today, they were sad instead. he was close to tears. my heart broke. I pulled him into a tighter hug before letting him go. "goodbye," he said, speaking the first English I had heard from him all week. "bye, Brian. see you next summer," I said, rubbing his shoulder. he nodded, understanding.
I watched him walk away with his friend. he glanced back at me one time, smiled and waved. he pulled his shoulders back and walked off, standing tall. I smiled and waved back.