babe bee

Way back in May (seriously, do you even remember May, cause it feels like it was years ago now), I posted the following story about a miraculous interaction that I’d witnessed between Brooke and her school’s custodian.

If you remember the story, skip ahead to the ***, otherwise, please join me in its retelling …

We had arrived at school early for Brooke’s parent-teacher (and aide) conference. But for a few staff members preparing for the open, the halls were deserted.

Luau, Katie and I stood by as Brooke began her morning locker routine. She sat on the floor, opened her backpack and took out her folder. After three years of practice, she can do it all by herself.

Luau and I spotted the school custodian down the hall and both waved. Luau shouted, “Good morning, Mr E!” We were all smiles as he walked by with a friendly hello.

He was five feet past us when I heard the first one. A deep, gravelly, “Babe,” that came out of nowhere. I looked at Luau, wondering if I’d finally lost it, but he had the same look on his face. We shrugged.

With the next one, there was no question. Once again, all he said was, “Babe.” This time Katie chuckled. Luau and I again looked at each other, searching for an explanation. There was no one else in the hallway.

Every five feet or so, he said it again. He was walking down the hall saying, “Babe. Babe. Babe.”

With a laugh, I yelled down to him, “Um, Mr E? You OK over there?”

He didn’t turn around, but yelled over his shoulder, “Listen!”

And then he did it again.”Babe.”

Um, I’m listening, Mr E, I thought. But I’m lost.

As if reading my mind, he said it again. “Listen!”

So I did. And the next time he said, “Babe,” I heard it. The tiny response that had been there each and every time. Into her locker, Brooke had said, “Bee.”

Three or four more times, before finally disappearing around the corner, Mr E said, “Babe.” And each and every time, Brooke said, “Bee.” Apparently, they had a thing.

Luau and I stood in the hallway, slack-jawed. Katie was giggling.

“Brooke, honey,” I asked. “Do you and Mr E do that every time you see each other?”

She never stopped doing what she was doing, but answered my question with a quiet, “Yeah.”

I talk a lot about awareness. I talk about compassion and understanding and inclusion. I talk about seeing people – really stopping and SEEING people. I talk about reaching out and making connections. They are big, overwhelming, life-changing concepts. That sometimes have the simplest execution.

This man has found a way to connect with my girl. A silly little routine. A single word, split in half. A script. Heaven knows how it may have gotten started. It is nonsensical at best. But through its repetition, my girl is seen. With one word, she is told that another adult is there. That school is safe and that she is OK.”

***

Yesterday morning, we presented Mr E with a small gift. We’ve always gotten him a little something at the holidays and again at year-end – tiny tokens of gratitude for his service to the kids. But this year was different. All in all, this year’s gift cost less than any that preceded it, but I’m pretty sure that it means a whole lot more.

I asked Brooke to sign her name to her work, but she refused. “I’m on it,” she said, pointing to her image. It was a hard point to argue.

When Brooke handed it over, Luau told Mr E the story, explaining that it wasn’t signed, but that we were certain that he’d know who it was from. Mr E looked at it, pointed to the picture of Brooke and said, “Of course it’s signed. She’s right there.”

There are precious souls in this world who just get it. No need for explanations, they just get it. And for them, I am eternally grateful.

*

*

“Babe–Bee” by Brooke, 2011

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37 thoughts on “babe bee

  1. Yes! This is awesome. The people who “get it” are so precious. We have a woman like that at my son’s school, “Mrs. Shirl.” Every day while waiting for her granddaughter she befriended my little guy, who was waiting for me. He went from being afraid to look at her to running and giving her the biggest hug in the world. I wished I could convey to her what her small gestures meant to us.

  2. I similarly wrote a little thank you note to the secretary in the school office that no matter how busy she was, would stop the world to interact with my baby. She would buzz him in each morning even though the door was unlocked because she knew how important the routine of ringing the doorbell was. She’d wave to him as we walked past even though he never waved back unless prompted. She would greet him warmly as he did his “job” of bringing the attendance to her. I closed my note to her by saying, “You are a true gift to our school community. Thank you.” And I meant every word of it. Some people just get it. I’m thankful to my core for all of them.

  3. This brought a HUGE smile to my face, before I’ve even had my coffee = ) AWESOME! Love it, love it LOVE it!!!!

  4. You have motivated me to take a little extra time today to acknowledge some special people in my family’s life. Thank you for the reminder!

  5. :)
    I tell the kids every year a letter, a poem, a picture …those will be things I can treasure always – things from their heart and not the store. They’re up all over my room in frames and in albums xoxo

  6. This brought good tears to my eyes. I need this! It is an AMAZING story. Mr. E is a wonderful man. I agree I tip my hat to those who “get it” there blessings!!!

  7. So foolish of me not to have tissues at the ready…I kinda knew it was coming. D’oh! But this, this incredible gift straight from her heart to his? Took my breath away. In a really wonderful way. xo

  8. Jeez! That brought tears to my eyes! I wish I had a Mr. E and someone who just “gets it” with my son. Your blog gives me hope that someday, someone will just look at me and say “I understand.” My son is five years old and has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, sensory integration disorder, and auditory processing disorder. They stopped all of his services at 3 and now that we are in a new state (we moved from Colorado to Massachusetts) I am having a heck of a time getting him the services he needs here. I feel awful because I yell at him when gets into his “moods” and I know he can’t help it. It’s just being overstimulated and it seems like lately, everything is “overstimulating” him. I receive the nastiest stares, the meanest remarks, all of it, at least twice a day if I am out with him. I just don’t know where to go or who to talk to. Your blog lets me know that I am not allow. Thank you.

  9. Pingback: Angels « LearnLoveLiveLaugh's Blog

  10. This post set a mood for my day. Mr. E. truly is an angel. I spent most my morning thinking about angels in my life and in the lives of my students and I realized there were more than I could have ever imagined. As I told my friend about the post and the angels I had been thinking about she told me about a 14 year old boy at the community center that our male students had gone to for a field trip today. One young boy stood in awe watching boys he didn’t know play pool, the oldest one, the 14 year old, saw how entranced J was and asked if he wanted to play. This young man took our student under his wing and taught him how to play pool. He didn’t have to, most kids his age wouldn’t but he did. He was J’s angel for the day. It is so wonderful that God has sent angels like Mr. E. who ‘get it’ into the live of the children we love so much. Thank you for sharing your angel story Jess.

  11. My son’s school was looking for a new principal as our current one is retiring. Parents were asked to send comments to the district explaining what we wanted in her replacement. I used your story about Mr. E as an example – everyone in the school interacts with our children and they should all ‘get it’. Mr. E’s connection to Brooke makes me teary every time I think about it.

  12. What a beautiful picture for a wonderful person who truly does ‘get it’. I wish the world had more people like your special Mr. E.

  13. I’m sure Mr. E will cherish that gift from the heart for EVER!! And for as lucky as you feel to have him – I’m sure he feels soooo lucky to have gotten to know your beautiful daughter!! Just so wonderful!!!

  14. What a wonderful connection that your girl and Mr. E shared together! At the school where I teach and my son attends, there is a custodian who has a special bond with my son. She is from Honduras, and every day she comes and sits with Ben after he finishes his lunch. I never knew this until one day I happened to go in the lunchroom during his class’s time, and there they sat, huddled happily together at the table, giggling as they talked in Spanish together. I had assumed that Ben had learned Spanish in class. I had no clue he had learned from their special lunchtimes together. You are so right when you say that every person makes and impact. There are many people who can talk eloquently about accepting all learners, but what truly matters is that personal connection- those special people who take that extra step to form a bond with your child. I am truly grateful for these people in my son’s life, as I know you are for those in Brooke’s!

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