My refrigerator at home displays a colorful portrait of a Christmas bell given to me by a sixth grader by the name of Charles. On the back of the portrait is written, "You are the best sub ever." I discovered the picture on my desk on the last day of substituting for that class. I had been there a week. A week in which Charles made the only friend he had ever known.
As the children arrive at school, Charles is the doormat in which they wipe their feet. "Ooh, Charles touched me," was only one of the demeaning remarks the other children hurled at him. Boys pulled hilarious pranks on girls by telling them that Charles "liked" them. Charles's salvation army attire provided a constant source of mockery for the children. And Charles had grown used to being tripped in the lunchroom. In fact, he just expected it.
This victimization infuriated me. As long as I khave been a substitute teacher, I had never assigned detention hall. But in the next child that so much as whispered another remark about Charles, was going to be my first candidate,and I meant it. More importantly Charles knew I meant it.
But unlike the typical sixth grade boy, Charles did not seek vengence upon his enemies. His eyes conveyed only apathy toward the cruel statements. His body never even flinched in reaction to the physical bullying. His head never flopped downward in humiliation. He made no attempt to plea his case or win the battle.
Charles is like a saint. Through extreme persecution he never loses his sense of who he is or what he stands for. He knows these things will soon pass;like the wind, the cruelty and the persecution may be strong at times, but are surely...