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The Cape

The day after Halloween.  One of a teachers's most dreaded days of the year.

Of course, I entered the classroom that day with trepidation.  What teacher in her right mind wouldn't?
But I was ready - I have done this many times, I knew what was coming and braced myself for the difficult day ahead.

But those sweet little, sugared up 6 year olds would not fall into the trap of Halloweens past. They entered the room calmly.  They hung up their things.  They sat down with books and read quietly.

I checked the calendar.  Yes, the day after Halloween, sure enough.

I eyed them all with suspicion, but I carried on and we all went to the carpet for morning meeting.

That's when I noticed it.  The cape.
Darren sat there calmly on the carpet, crisscross applesauce, eyes on the teacher, smile on his face.
Wearing a long, black cape.

Now, my first instinct was to send him to his seat to put that thing in his backpack right now this is not Halloween we don't wear costumes to school thank you very much.

But in that split second of decision making about what words would fall out of my mouth, I didn't say that.  I didn't say anything.

It would disrupt our morning meeting and Darren would be embarrassed and I would not be modeling respectful interaction and he isn't being disruptive and does it really matter anyway?

I swear I don't know how two minutes worth of thoughts can fly through a mind in .25 seconds, but teachers do it hundreds of times every single day.  We have to make a gazillion decisions at almost every moment of the day about what to say, who to call on, when to push it, when to let it go, say yes, say no, praise, remind, cajole, smile, give the 'look', move on, slow down.  Good grief, we should be the ones wearing capes.  We are super heroes!

But, in this particular split second on this particular day, I ignored that cape and our meeting continued on just like every other day.
 After a bit, I forgot about the cape.

I remembered again when we left the carpet to get out math journals and I saw Darren rise from the carpet, gently swish his cape around his side, and glide back to his seat.

What was that?  Oh my goodness, it was hysterical, that's what it was.  It was beautiful.  It was amazing.

Darren never rises or swishes or glides.  He is usually tripping over untied shoelaces, bumping into others, and stepping all over his coat and backpack which are invariably on the floor.

As I stood there in amazement, I lost my split second decision making opportunity.  I was so mesmerized by the moment, I didn't have the chance to say, "Go put that thing in your backpack right now this is not Halloween we don't wear costumes to school thank you very much."  I didn't say anything.

So, I ignored that cape and continued on with math journals just like every other day.
After a bit, I forgot about the cape.

I remembered again when we lined up to go to art and I saw Darren rise from his chair, gently swish his cape around his side, and glide into line.  I swear he looked an inch and a half taller.

I used my split second this time.  And I made a very resolute split second decision not to say a single thing to Darren about that cape.  Apparently, that cape had super powers.

Now, the other amazing - I can't believe I didn't even realize how amazing - thing that happened on the day after Halloween, was that not one sugared up six year old in that class said anything about Darren's cape.  No one yelled, "Darren, why are you wearing a cape?  Don't you know you're not supposed to wear a cape to school?"  Not one of them screamed, "Mrs. Sabiston, Darren's wearing a cape!"  They didn't say anything.

So I didn't say anything.  No one said anything about that cape.

When we walked in the hall, other teachers noticed the cape.  You couldn't miss it with all the swishing and gliding.  I got a few looks from my colleagues.  The 'why didn't she tell him to put that thing in his backpack right now this is not Halloween we don't wear costumes to school thank you very much' looks.  But I gave that 'we're going with it, trust me' smile and we all moved on.  No one said anything about the cape.

But, all day, Darren swished and glided and grew.  His chest was out, his head held high.  Super powers, I tell you.

At the end of the day, just before we got on the bus, I whispered in Darren's ear that I loved his cape and it was wonderful, but he should probably leave it at home tomorrow.  He nodded and got on the bus.

I haven't seen the cape since, but I still think Darren is a bit taller.

I hope Darren had an amazing day after Halloween.  I know I did.


  1. Good on you for not mentioning the cape. How is Darren now?

  2. Great choice on not saying anything about the cape. Sometimes it is best for us to pick our battles. Glad the kids didn't say anything either! Thanks for sharing on my Positive Friday post too!


  3. This story made my Saturday! Thank you and I agree with above comment...need Darren updates.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  4. Awww Nikki that was a beautiful story,
    Thanks for sharing!

    Teaching Maths with Meaning

  5. Darren Update:
    He still struggles to keep up every day. He lives in a difficult environment to say the least.
    But he and I have a better understanding of each other. He finally believes that school is a safe place, and he can succeed, or fail, or anything in between, and it will be okay.


    1. It is too bad more teachers don't realize the importance of establishing trust as a first step in making progress with students, and that some who are in difficult situations need it even more than others. (It is as if they slept through their educational psychology classes!) You are a very insightful teacher. ;)

  6. What a sweet story! I homeschool my own children, but have several friends who teach in the public schools. I often hear of too many children who live in terrible situations. For a lot of these children, the only love and respect they receive is what they get from their teachers! Bless you for your love of children!

  7. Sometimes saying nothing is the best choice. Thanks for a great story and a great reminder.

  8. This is a beautiful story. My eyes welled up! It is so obvious that you are "in it" for the children.

    That's great teaching! Leading by example.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ok - so it doesn't work out this great every time, but this day was a good one for sure. Thanks for your kind words:)

  9. I appreciate you not asking him to take it off. I wore costumes to school every day of my life. I got a lot of flak for it from fellow students, but it allowed me to be who I am. I look back on that as a time of freedom. Today I can't wear costumes every day since I work, but back then I could really show people who I am and how little I cared what they thought of it.