To the teachers of 1st grade:

August 2011

“Whats his name?” “Whats his favorite color?” “Does he like that?”

If you have a question, ask him. No, he doesn’t always answer you the way you would think. Usually he responds with a mile wide smile, simply because you acknowledged him, and other times he will freak out, simply because you acknowledged him.

I want him to have friends, I want him to have fun. I want him to have a good year in school. I want so much for him, but sometimes I have to hold back what I want for him…because sometimes he just isn’t ready for it all yet.

His name is Josh. He smiles if you say hi. Most times. Unless he doesn’t. And then he doesn’t and you should probably avoid further contact. His favorite color is orange. Most times. Unless it isn’t. Then its brown. Or green. Or blue. Or red. Or yellow. Or purple. Or anything but orange. Because hes almost seven and he can change his mind if he wants to. He knows the difference, so don’t try to pull it over on him.

Please don’t treat him like he is less than something. Because he isn’t. Please don’t treat him like he is more than something. Because he isn’t. Please treat him like you would any other kid, with kindness. With respect. Don’t let him get away with things, he knows when something is wrong and when he shouldn’t do it. He knows not to hit, or bite…even though he sometimes does. Please don’t treat him like he has some disease that will spread like wild fire if you get too close to him, even though that might be how he treats you. Hes scared, timid and shy at first. But if you treat him the way you do most other kids, he will warm up to you and you wont be sorry.

He is a funny, rambunctious, wild, caring, strong willed, head strong, stubborn, sweet boy who will melt your heart if you arent careful.

Don’t assume he doesn’t understand you, just because he stares right through you. Hes trying to understand. Hes trying so hard, please help him. Help him understand by giving him space when needed, or giving him your hand when hes scared. It wont take long, I promise.

Give him a day, a week, or maybe a month. It might take all year, but he will come around and you will see something that you didn’t think you would ever see. You will see him do something you didn’t think he could. You will see him repeat something with ease, after you have spent countless hours trying, hopelessly to teach him it. Don’t be frustrated. He’s Josh. And that is how he does things.

He sometimes appears to be a lost cause. A locked box. An empty child. But he is anything but.

Please don’t make excuses for him. He needs to learn, and he will learn. But please have patience with him…he needs someone who will be compassionate and sensitive to his actions, but he also needs someone who will stand firm when he wants to do something he shouldn’t. When you make a break through, I promise you will have seen no greater accomplishment.

If he trusts you, please don’t take this lightly. Please don’t brush it off. Trusting you is the highest compliment you can receive from him, and if you win his trust, you win his heart and there isn’t anything that he wouldnt do for you.

Please love him. And show him the things he needs to know. Please don’t brush him aside, and count him off as another hopeless child. He has potential, he has feelings, he understands your words…hes just waiting. Waiting for you to show him that you are worth his effort. Waiting for you to show him that you wont give up on him, that you do care, and that you will treat him like you care for him.

This is his first year alone. Please take care of him. Hes special to someone. And he will be special to you, if you give him the chance.

And please don’t mind me. Im just worried that you wont see what I see in him. That he wont open up to you, and you wont see whats really inside. When we walk into your room for the first day of the year, I know you will probably roll your eyes and wish we had found a different school. But if you take time to really get to know him…you wont be sorry, and he will be worth your time. That is, if you give him some of it.

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