Reflecting Smiles

There was a little commotion just before they met.  There were two restaurants on the short street.  When we made arrangements, we gave the address of one restaurant, while we meant a different, the one where  we had met a year before. So we checked one restaurant and we were on a way to the second one, when Robert noticed Mrs. Scott crossing the street in our direction. He stopped for a second and smiled.  SMILED.  SMILED!!!!!

The smile shoot straight from his heart and brighten the day.  It was magnified by Mrs. Scott’s face, as always, expressing acceptance and admiration. Robert’s happiness  amplified her smile in return.

I stood just a couple of feet from them and could not but marvel at the beauty and sheer joy of this encounter. They looked at each other, the retired teacher and her former student, pondering  the miracle of seeing each other again.  You almost could see sparks of joyful energy traveling back and forth  between them.  A few times, I tried to interrupt reminding them about lunch and the restaurant, but I backed off before finishing the first half of the sentence.

I don’t know when finally, we all ended up in the restaurant. I know we had very happy and pleasant time.  It was the kind of time Mrs. Scott and Robert used to spent together at least once a week, before she retired and moved to Vermont.

I always knew how much he loved her, but I did not realize how much he has been missing her in his rather wordless world.

It should not surprise me that Robert, in his taciturn ways, kept longing for Mrs. Scott all this year.  He is a sensitive and loving young man and he is capable of reading other people’s feeling toward him.  He knew that Mrs. Scott accepted him from the start, admired his ways of navigating his world, and well…. loved him too.

She looked at him as if he were the absolutely unique, wonderful human creature who was making the world around him better, more beautiful, and  more thoughtful.  There were very few people who looked at Robert with joy and acceptance.  There were very few people who cold bring up Robert’s smile.

Before Robert met Mrs. Scott for the first time in November of 2006, he went through long months of feeling like a helpless troublemaker.  The more he wanted to do good, and fix his environment, classroom really, the more problems he caused.  He knew it, but couldn’t help it. He was lost.  He was frustrated. he felt obligated to go to school every day, but as he was approaching the school’s building his steps became slower and heavier.  The fact that I took him out of school, only replaced feeling of failure with unnecessary solitude.

Mrs. Scott understood his frustration and his loneliness.  She decided not to let him be unhappy.  Every time, she looked at him, she radiated acceptance and thus she provided emotional safety net for him.  And she smiled.  She smiled a lot.  She smiled from the center of her heart.

Her smile brought Robert back.  He could smile back.

But he doesn’t smile often.  He is tense while approaching new situations, he watches carefully environment, he follows responsibly what are his chores, he tries to understand the logic and the facts.  Somehow, his teachers, don’t think happiness is the most fundamental part of learning, accepting and adjusting to the environment.

Robert doesn’t smile often,

There is a challenge for us, his parents and his sister, there is a challenge for whomever he will meet in the future, to elicit the same kind of smiles from Robert, which Mrs. Scott could bring on with the tiny movements of her face muscles and a spurt of love and bliss from her heart.