"I'm these three!" she said confidently, pointing to the Loved, Silly, and Happy faces.
"I'm loved because, well, you love me." she stated, matter of factly.
4 years ago My Smart Cookie was in my first grade classroom. We had our moments- some good, some not so good- sometimes her fault, sometimes mine. She gave me a run for my money, but through whatever happened I kept focusing on the child underneath. (For classic Smart-Cookie antics click on the 'My Smart Cookie' tag below.) Whatever happens, I told myself through all those antics, I will let this girl know she is important & that she belongs in our classroom.
Once our class ended I worked on keeping in touch, sometimes just by saying hi in the hallway, sometimes notes if I heard she did something well, sometimes she came to Friday morning book club, sometimes I would check in with her to see how everything was going. Once she hit a testing grade I was assigned to her to administer all important standardized tests one-on-one- which meant we had sporadic hours here and there throughout the year to chat before and after she took a standardized assessment.
She's not always easy to love. She's told me I have bad breath before. She's told me horrid stories about her fights with her sister. She's shared totally inappropriate thoughts. But underneath it all is the awesome girl with a wicked sense of humor- the super creative child who one day will show us the brilliance inside her. 4 years of listening to her, reminding her she's smart, laughing at her jokes, reminding her to use good social skills, and... just listening to her- and now I know, she's heard me. She got the message. If nothing else, she knows she's important.
Knowing someone believes in you- that's everything. I've had an odd feeling of success all today. She might not be following other social norms, but now I know that she knows she is loved. That's got to count for something.