The Matchless Gift
After my 21 second graders completed reciting the Pledge of
Allegiance, my students settled back in their seats.
But Duane remained standing. Duane was an exceptionally bright and
lovable student. However his home life was far from perfect. His mother
was a single parent who had so many problems, such as drinking, that she
had difficulty being a good parent.
Duane and his three younger sisters were often taken out of the home
until social services thought that it was safe for them to return. Thinking
that maybe he had had a bad night, I walked over to him to see what was the
As he looked up at me with his dark brown eyes, I could see his hurt
"Mrs. Brown, aren't you going to open my present?", he asked. "I put
it on your desk."
As I looked at my desk, all I could see was an avalanche of papers,
stickers, and books. Seeing my puzzled look, Duane went to the front of
the room and retrieved his gift from my desk. As he handed it to me, I
noticed the wrapping paper was a napkin from the lunchroom. Carefully
removing the napkin, my gift appeared to be a matchbox.
Although I had only been a teacher for three months, I had learned the
important lesson of asking a child to explain a picture or, in this case, a
gift, instead of disappointing him with a wrong guess. So I asked Duane to
tell me about his gift.
First of all, Duane instructed that I had to use my imagination before
opening my gift. He then began to tell me that this wasn't really a
matchbox but a jewelry box. Inside, if I would use my imagination, I would
find two precious gems. As I opened my jewelry box, I was surprised by the
sight and the smell of two beer caps. Duane informed me that instead of
beer caps they were really two precious silver earrings. He had noticed
that I never wore earrings and wanted me to have some pretty ones.
As my eyes began to tear, I was touched by his creativity and the
thoughtfulness of Duane's precious gift. Since birth, one of my ears was
slightly deformed. Fearing that wearing earrings might draw attention to
the ear, I never wore them. But how could I not wear these precious
earrings given by this special child?
As I placed the earrings on my ears with masking tape, my class
clapped, and Duane stood proudly beside me.
Every year after that, the matchbox remained on my desk. It reminded
me of Duane's act of kindness and of the lessons he taught me. Although his
situation at home was not the best, Duane continued to see the good in
life. The beer caps were an ugly reminder of some problems at home, but
Duane had made them into something beautiful - two precious gems.
Although my ear was deformed, Duane still wanted me to have pretty
earrings. Although Duane did not have much money, he still wanted to give.
Whenever I see Duane's gift on my desk, it encourages me. If I am having
trouble reaching a student, I try to be like Duane and give that student a
piece of my heart.
Out of the good heart of a second-grade boy, one teacher will always
have a gift to treasure. School years come and go, but the memory of my
matchbox gift never will fail to warm my heart, or be extinguished from my
[ by: Stephanie Ray Brown -- from Bill Rayborn ]
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