Need a Hand?
By Suzanne Boyce


Teaching can be a challenging profession.  
Some days there just doesn't seem to be enough of you to go around.  
Each little face is so eager, so trusting and so worthy of your attention.  
How can you reach them all?  
There just aren't enough minutes in the day especially when the little faces come from kindergarten.
Kindergartners walk into a school ready to say "Wow!" to the world.  
They are excited by everything from the chalk dust on your elbow to the bug crawling across their desk.  They are loving, energetic, excited, energetic, intrigued, energetic, motivated, energetic, eager to learn  
and did I mention they are also energetic? 
Working with kindergartners is like trying to keep a room full of ping-pong balls 
all underwater at the same time.  
But there are also those moments that make it all worthwhile.  
And Lucy created one of those moments.
Little Lucy (at least that's what we'll call her) had never been to kindergarten before.  
She was thrilled by the activities, the children, the classroom and the noise.  
Lucy especially liked the noise. 
At her house things weren't very noisy.  
When her family talked, there wasn't a sound.  
Her parents were deaf, and every conversation was conducted in sign language.  
Now Lucy was experiencing the excitement of a second language she was getting to talk!
As the school year progressed, Lucy thrived.  
Her parents came in for conferences, they wrote notes, and the school even helped them get a special telephone so they could call the school with concerns about Lucy.  
All of this communication was wonderful, and Lucy benefited from it all!
Halloween came with pumpkins and costumes.  
Thanksgiving turkeys sported multi-colored feathers.  
But then came Christmas, the best of all.  
Santa was coming very soon, and the kindergartners were creating a Santa of their own 
to make him feel welcome.  
Dozens of tiny hands were traced onto colorful paper.  
Hundreds of tiny fingers were cut with blunt-tipped scissors.  
Proudly, the children brought their handprints to the teacher, who taped them on the door.  
There were red ones for Santa's suit, white ones for his beard, and even black hands to shape his boots.  
It was beautiful!
Lucy was thrilled.  
She loved the tracing and cutting.  
It had been so much fun, she went home that night and traced and cut and traced and cut.  
When she finished, she chose the best hand of all to take to her teacher.
The next morning Lucy could hardly wait.  
As soon as she reached the classroom she reached into her book bag and dug out her gift.  
Proudly, she presented her very best hand to her teacher.  
Her teacher bent down and gave Lucy a hug, but she was puzzled by the gift.  
The day before, Lucy had done such a wonderful job.  
Her tracing, her cutting, had been well within the skill level of her age group.  
But today's effort well, it just wasn't Lucy's best work.
"Do you like it?" Lucy asked eagerly.
The teacher smiled.
"Yes, honey," she replied.  "But Lucy, there are some fingers missing.  Did something happen?"
There were some fingers missing it was obvious as soon as you looked at the hand.  
The thumb, the index finger and the pinky finger had been cut with perfection.  
The other two fingers, however, had been cut off at the palm.
"Yes, Teacher," Lucy said happily.  "I wanted to give you my best hand the one that says 'I love you.'"
And that's exactly what it did say in sign language "I love you."