Last Friday, most of the children were gone by the time I dropped off my key and picked up my time sheet in the office. When I stepped outside heading for my car, a little boy who was waiting to be picked up in front of the school jumped off a bench and stepped up to me. He was so tiny. He had dark brown skin with straight long black hair that trailed down his back. It was pulled into a low ponytail to keep out of his face. He looked up at me with his dark eyes that were a bit askew. He had to be a 1st grader, not only for his size, but I could see by his wide smile that he had all of his baby teeth glistening up at me.
He said, "Do you remember me?"
I didn't, but before I could react or quiz him about what class I had him in, he said, hoping for recognition, "You gave me a prize!"
My face lit up, "You must have been extra good because I don't give out prizes very often."
He told me how I had only given out two in his class that day. "You gave one to me because I was very quiet," he said.
"You need to remember that about me." I replied. "When I give instructions to students and I find most of them aren't following my directions, I start looking around the room to try and find someone who is."
"You gave me some clackers," he smiled again.
I wish now I had gotten down on one knee. He was straining his neck to look up at me and was so attentive and intent on listening to what I had to say. "It's nice to get a prize, but whether you receive a prize or not, you feel good inside when you do what your teacher asks you to do."
His face glowed in agreement. I was so proud of him. I said good-bye, me grinning from ear to ear, and then I was off to my car.
The class I had substituted that day was especially difficult, but I got through it. I don't think that little boy realized how his cheerful conversation made my day. I should have said to him, "You gave me a prize!"
“My dear brothers and sisters, may the laughter of children gladden our hearts. May the faith of children soothe our souls. May the love of children prompt our deeds. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Ps. 127:3.)”
Thomas S. Monson, “Precious Children—A Gift from God,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 70