His eyes are luminous, I get a glimpse of his pure soul, brilliant, untarnished, innocent. He greets
me with a disarming smile. He can hardly contain himself. I am weary. I had a full load of patients
in clinic today. My medical assistant was a new hire, and needed extra time to room patients. I
had run late all day. It was a domino effect. I had to stay behind an extra hour to chart and
He did not discern any of this. He had waited patiently for me all day. He was ‘home-schooling’.
It was early days of the pandemic learning model. He was a ‘good’ kid. He was kind, quiet, a rule
‘follower’, hence he had coasted unnoticed under the teachers’ radar. His reading and
comprehension skills were sub-par. Quarantine had given me perspective on his deficiencies.
That was what I focused on, his deficiencies. I had been working with him, assigning homework
to help him ‘catch up’.
His assignment for today had been to complete a book report on ‘Tintin And His Adventures At
Sea’. We had watched the movie together. I thought he could navigate the book. This was his
‘first’ book report. We had discussed the expectations of writing this report. He had been talking
about it for days. He was ready to reveal the ‘masterpiece’.
He reached for my hand as I emerged from the car. I had to remind him to wait till I completed
my ‘decontamination’ routine. I needed to shower and change before I could be in his proximity.
He waited outside my bathroom door, unwearyingly, as I bathed, dried my hair and dressed. I
needed this time to decompress.
He grabbed my hand, after I emerged, and guided me to his room. He handed me his notebook
and exclaimed, ‘read it mom!’. He was giddy with pride, I could almost feel his heart pulsating
with energy. I l glanced at the page. I felt a hot flush of irritation. The writing was careless, there
were no paragraphs, there were numerous spelling mistakes, the sentences lacked structure. In
short, it was appalling!
The day had unraveled, bit by bit, and this was the breaking point. I lost control. I was merciless.
I re-live my words through his ears and envision my distorted face though his eyes. My words
eviscerate him, his self-esteem, his guileless wonder, his unsophisticated naivety. His eyes fill
with tears, his lips quiver, his shoulders sink, his eyes no longer meet mine. He is silent, his body
shudders in an attempt to mask his despair. He hears the words, ‘disappointed’ echo over and
over again, like a deafening cacophony of vultures closing in on their prey.
I dredge up that day in my mind often. I am ashamed. I am appalled. He does not realize that it
was ‘I’ who had ‘disappointed’ him that day.