Dear Boundless Families:
Your lovelies arrived safely yesterday.
They were out on the rink last night, horsing around and breaking the ice, or at least trying to skate on it. They then flocked indoors, like honey bees to their queen, buzzing around Mary-Michelle, our Program Manager, for a massive game of BLOCKUS – whatever the heck that is.
The familiars looked well, arriving fresh from their Miami-like microclimates. Climate change is eerie. At least the kids are back in wintertime, and are much better for it. There are cross-country expeditions looming.
We have four new students. They are carefully feeling their way around the place, like domesticated creatures being released into the wild. The returnees have rolled out the emotional red carpet for them.
I am in the city, so I lack an insider’s perspective. Instead, I’ll tell a little story about one lad in particular, who’s been with us on and off since September. Protecting his privacy, I’ll call him Huck Finn, for he is a scoundrel at heart, or so we thought.
Huck, with ADHD firmly rooted in his soul, arrived in September bouncing off the trees and canoes. When outside, he was bearable. Inside though, especially during academics, oh my. He was a handful, especially among his peers.
Back in October, I spent some time with Mr. Finn around a ping pong table. As a former table tennis God, I literally schooled him. He said, “Train me.” So I did. In perfect sync with the ball, our conversation went back and forth.
I learned that inside, Huck Finn yearned for respectability, and knew he hadn’t earned it in the group. What to do?
In early January, while traipsing around a snow covered field as flat as the great plains, his knee buckled. How ironic because Huck is the kind of dude that would somersault over a cliff, invincible to injury.
Kevin, our guidance counsellor, noticed something odd when he took Huck to the hospital clinic. Mr. Finn started saying thank you over and over again. For Kevin taking him to the hospital. For everyone in the community who gave a shit. Because they did. Especially Huck’s detractors. The world is a wonder sometimes.
The diagnosis was not great. He would be out for weeks. This grounded him. Inside mostly. In class. In board games. In conversations he never had before. He became dependent on the group to help him navigate his physical needs.
His heart grew three sizes like the Grinch. He was beholden. He became humble.
I have never seen, in my forty masochistic years hanging out with teenagers, a student be the recipient of so many unprompted shout-outs around an early February campfire before.
Huck Finn is turning into a human being.
Please never tell me there is no such thing as a miracle.