"It Just Hurts." -The Pain Kids Hide

"There's a dog on the playground, Mr. Stortz!"  Several frantic girls were screaming and rushed over to me at recess today.  This usually happens a few times a year.  I looked around and didn't see anything.  The girls pointed to the other end of the soccer field where a man was letting kids pet his dog through the bars of our black iron fence.  This was definitely a no -no.

As I walked over to put a stop to this unauthorized dog petting, a soccer ball whizzed by the back of my head.  I had forgotten how lively the soccer field could be.  The man had already walked off by the time I reached the scene.  I cautioned the students about petting strange dogs and reminded them to be safe.  

I began walking back to my area when I heard the tiny yelp of ten year old girl.  I turned around to see one of my students hunched over and rubbing her shin.  She had just been pelted with a soccer ball.  I asked her if she was all right.  She winced, but assured me that she fine.  She's a tough girl.  I'm sure it hurt, but I knew she would be okay.

Fast -forward ten minutes.  My patrol took me towards the side doors of the school.  I walked past one of the squared brick columns and found the girl who had been hit by the soccer ball earlier.  She was sitting with her back against the rough brick, arms wrapped around her legs and her chin resting on her knees.  Her eyes were red and a little puffy.  

I asked if she was okay.  She sniffed and gave me a few short nods.  A little girl in tears is practically my Bat -Signal for shifting into dad mode.  I looked at her again and asked if she was sure.  Tears began flowing as she mumbled, "It just hurts."  She could no longer hide the pain.  Immediately, I knelt down and rubbed her shoulder.  I asked if she would show me her leg.  It seemed fine.  I assured her that things would be all right; just to give it a little time.

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I thought about those words today- "It just hurts."  I wonder how many students in my class are hurting?  Not from soccer balls, but from much deeper pain.  How many children are going through divorce, hunger, abuse, neglect, or bullying?   How many kids are hurting and trying to hide it?  How many students are trying to be tough and not show their pain?

That pain is where I need to begin with some students.  What can I do?  Where can I help?   I don't want them to hurt, and I certainly don't want them to be hurting and hide it.    

"It just hurts."

Maybe learning when to use a comma before a conjunction isn't so important.