It’s a Puzzle

I work with one particular boy who consistently gets in his way.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the kids I work with do this, and a lot of people in general do this.

(Myself, for one, but let’s not go down that road).

Not long ago, this kid, we’ll call him M, finally seemed to find an activity that kept him out of trouble and quiet. This kid, from the first day I started, was a headache. That sounds mean, but seriously, I could not reach this child. I could see his pain and feel  his anger, but I could not find anything beneath those masks with which I could connect.

Then, we went shopping and bought some new puzzles, and my boss convinced M to get started on a bada** one with a bunch of dragons with a tantalizing offer:  finishing the puzzle would equal keeping the puzzle.

What a boon.

M worked diligently on his puzzle for days. When he finally reached the last few pieces and found one missing, we were all close to devastated.

When another sharp-eyed student spotted the missing piece, my boss went right over to tell M the good news. He came back and happily added the last piece.

And the next day?

M destroyed the whole thing.

It breaks my heart to see a glimmer of something in a child, and then before you know it, the window is slammed shut.

I’ve never seen a glimmer in M again, and we rarely ever see him anymore.

All I can do is hope–someday–he’ll remember that someone believed in him in enough to encourage him to something as simple as a puzzle, and that someone is there if he needs help achieving more.

Sometimes, we see a glimmer in someone and we never see it again. I guess that’s how life is–we’re all just a bunch of ships passing in the night, and sometimes a lantern turns on. Sometimes it stays on, sometimes it burns out, sometimes it blinds you, sometimes it warms you.

courtesy of

And every light is beautiful. Perhaps the ones that are just a flash are the ones we’ll remember most–but boy, it’s hard to remember and never get to see more.