Mr. Belanger is the IT professional for our school district. He is also an accomplished pianist and plays the piano in a variety of our children's school performances. He is the "jack-of-all trades" for our school system.
But today, Mr. Belanger was something more to me. Today, Mr. Belanger was my savior.
Each day, Nicholas and I arrive early to school. We do this to avoid that early morning rush hour traffic in the chaotic hallways of the Penn Brook School. Since Nicholas has trouble negotiating transitions, we spend some quiet time alone together before school starts to ease him into his school day. We arrive early to school and sit inside the school on one of the lobby benches. This gives us some time to talk or read quietly together. His aide, Mrs. D then comes to pick him up and bring him to class.
This transition plan works very well for Nicholas.
That is until today.
Today, Nicholas was not comfortable sitting on the bench. Today, he seemed tired.
Ms. Rezendez, the Art teacher, and good friend, sat down to chat with us this morning.....and suddenly without warning....
"I have a sore throat." Nicholas declares.
"OK" I say, knowing where this usually leads.....
'I don't want to go to school" He explains a little louder and suddenly tears start to flow down his checks.
Oh, no I 'm thinking to myself. How am I going to get Nicholas to his classroom without a full blown temper tantrum right here in the hallway....?? I take his hand,
"NOOOOOOOO!" Nicholas shouts
As the cold sweat starts to form on my hands, Mr. Belanger appears out of nowhere.
"Hi, Nicholas," he says, and grabs his hand gently.
"Where are you headed?" he asks, "It looks like your classroom? Do you mind if I walk with you?"
He leads Nicholas gently down the hallway. He holds one of Nicholas's hands while I hold the other.
"My brother yells at me," Nicholas explains out of nowhere. Once again the cold sweat starts to form as I wonder where the heck this statement has come from and what the heck Mr. Belanger must be thinking.
"You know Nicholas, sometimes I yell too," he says.
I feel the tears well up in my eyes as I realize this is a special man.
'You know Nicholas, I used to love school when I was a boy. I always felt safe there. I guess that's why I like to work here now."
We enter Nicholas's classroom, safe and sound with no crying, no screaming, no noise. Nicholas has been successfully distracted and although Mr Belanger hasn't spoken to me, I too have been comforted.
I have adapted to Nicholas's temper tantrums in school and have learned to ignore the cold icy stares and helpless expressions from others that usually accompany his outbursts.
Today, Nicholas and I were treated to a random act of kindness. Today, I am thankful that there are individuals like Mr. Belanger in this world.
He is a kind and compassionate soul. We are fortunate to have him in our lives.