Beverly had long legs, and a strong presence. Her hazel eyes revealed her intelligence as well as her deep rooted fear, disguised as anger. I saw through it all to the love she was craving. She was quiet and sharp tongued. She scared her classmates as her responses were always inconsistent. Her mother would seldomly appear at pick up time. If she did, she wore a black eye or a visible bruise. Her mom’s eyes revealed a fierce protection engulfed in pleading exhaustion. I could not imagine even though I tried. 

It was the middle of the school year – way past the honeymoon phase. My class was well versed in our mantra: “Thank you for ignoring those friends who are having a hard time making good choices”. This was said a ridiculously large amount of times that year. It served the purpose of redirection, and was typically useful.  


This particular morning we were gathered on the rug in the middle of a lesson. Beverly stood up, walked over to a center and began tearing it apart. Dumping toys and manipulatives off the shelf one by one all while watching me. My remaining students on the rug, eyes as big as saucers, pointing at her while murmuring things like “Hey, Ms. Molly, you see what she doing??? Woah…..she gonna get it…..” They began questioning my calm strategy of ignoring when it was clearly impossible to do just that. When I was ensured she would not harm herself, I steered the rest of the class from the rug to the hallway. All while Beverly sequentially destroyed the classroom, moving like a focused and on course tornado.  I continued my lesson while peeking through the window in the door. I’d stick my head in every now and again to remind her that it needed to get cleaned up when when she was done, and to let me know when she was ready for us to return.

After an hour Beverly had the room cleaned up, and the rest of my students were well versed in the psychology of anger, reacting, and ignoring. As well as a shred of whatever the actual intended lesson I was supposed to be teaching. We reentered the room and continued on with our day. Not a word was said, by anyone, about the incident. She let herself receive my hug at rest time, later that afternoon. 

I had a choice that day. I could have met her rage with my own, creating a power struggle. Instead, I met her with little reaction, followed by loving kindness. Beverly was acting out, most likely, what she lived in her short 5 years of life. Looking back, I’m not sure why I chose to react that way, and I’m so glad I did. Beverly was smart enough to know what I was doing, and brave enough to meet me where I asked her to go – to a safe spot, where she was loved, for just being. 

I still think about Beverly, and wonder how she is doing. I’d love to see her again, and give her another hug. 

The kids who need love the most will ask for it in the most unloving ways. 

Russell Barkley

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