I think I've mentioned before that one of the things that disappoints me most about a great many of my students is their total lack of regard for their fellow human beings. They're always stepping on each other and sitting down on top of each other and writing on each other's papers and just generally acting like they're the only tiny people in the whole great big universe. There are days when I just get really sick of their selfishness and the unkind way they treat each other.
The other day, though, I finally witnessed some compassion from my kindergarteners. Apparently Mario accidentally spilled some water on Angelina's coat, and Alyssa -- who is like the kindergarten equivalent of Joan Rivers, always acting like the bossy queen bee and generally stirring up drama -- said something nasty about it, bringing Mario to tears. By the time it was brought to my attention, Sylvia and Alejandro were crowded around Mario's side, supplying him with tissues. "We have a plan!" Sylvia announced brightly. "We're going to sit with Mario at lunch so he feels better!" Angelina, of the wet coat, was rubbing his back and soothingly assuring him: "You're going to be all right, you'll see. Everything's gonna be just fine." Even Alyssa, who's usually busy running her mouth off with excuses for why she felt it necessary to cause a ruckus, looked majorly contrite, maybe because Mario, as a rule, is not a crier. "I'm so sorry, Mario," she whispered, her eyes fixed on her paper. "I'm so, so sorry." By the time Angelina (whose coat, by the way, dried off in about two seconds) led Mario off by the hand to get a drink of water (this is my cure-all solution for crying), he was back to his old self again. And I was touched, because if I could leave my students with one lasting lesson from this year, it wouldn't be about grammar or punctuation; it would be about how to live in the world with other people.