The boy is tall. He is not skinny but he is not fat. He has short, curly hair that the other kids call an afro, though it isn’t. He is kind and soft-spoken, intelligent and thoughtful. He will make an excellent worker, husband, and even father one day.
I never see him with anyone else. He spends recesses walking alone along the hallway. Sometimes, he’ll engage in a conversation with a teacher but rarely with other students. He doesn’t play sports. He never gets called over to join a group. He’s the kind of kid that other kids go to when they want help with something. And by “help” I mean that they want their work done well. They don’t pick on him. They don’t notice him until they need something.
He is not like some kids- he doesn’t try to fit in. It’s almost as if he has accepted his lot. He walked by today and I thought, “Thank God he’s going to 9th grade next year. Maybe he’ll have a chance to meet new people, to make new friends.” But then I remembered that the same kids would be in 9th grade as in 8th grade. There are no feeder schools here- people don’t come from other places to start high school. There may be one or two new faces. Maybe. He may have the chance to interact with some of the older kids because I know he will be in advanced classes. Perhaps he will find a place to belong.
If he even wants to.