How a train restored my faith in humanity

As most of you know, Sunday mornings are spent at my “church” with my Best Running Friend. I love our time together outside with nature and catching up on each other’s lives. I shared this story with her yesterday, and her smile at the end made my day. And like the title of this post reads, it truly did restore my faith in humanity, which is why I am sharing. I hope it leaves you with warm fuzzies in your heart too.

Most of you also know that the teen boy is a lover of all things trains. His advisor and I found a unique way to turn this very specific interest into leadership opportunities, but he also still likes to just collect trains…. And the older he gets, this hobby leads to more and more complex (and expensive) trains.

He scored lots of cash donations for his late August birthday, and I was not surprised at all when he saved all that money along with other cash gifts from grandparents until he had enough money to buy his latest interest earlier this month. I tried to listen patiently (with absolutely no schema for anything trains) as he showed me all the parts to his latest train. He was so proud of it and asked if he could take it to school to show his friends in his Advisee group. For my readers not familiar with this school concept, it is a group of students from all grades that come together to work on service projects, fun school outings, and your safe place at school. He set up the train along with a circular track in the middle of the Advisee group room and something really cool happened.

Students would come into the room throughout the day and add things to the train layout… snowflakes, trees, etc. I cannot write about how special this little area was in the group in the way that the teen boy’s advisor did when she told me about it. This truly made my heart happy. Collecting trains is not a very popular hobby for a teenage boy, but my guy felt so comfortable in his Advisee group that he wanted to share his special interest with them.

Imagine my surprise and sadness a few weeks ago on a Monday morning when the teen boy texted me from school saying someone broke his train and it could not be repaired. My heart broke for him. He took such a risk bringing it to school and it had become such an important part of his Advisee group, and now it was ruined. I tried to console him as best as I could via text.

His advisor called me during her lunch break, and we both agreed that breaking the train was in no way done with malicious intent. Most likely, someone picked it up to check it out not knowing how small and fragile it was and broke it while handling it.

What happened next is what restored my faith in humanity. His advisor was really distraught over the situation, especially since train layout had become such a big part of the Advisee group community and shared the situation with a colleague. Now, this is not just a regular fellow teacher. This colleague is the one who has the very hard job of teaching middle and high school students about sex, drugs, and all the other things that are super hard for tweens and teens to navigate. I can still remember when my teen girl went on her first date. I explained that I was sending her with money so that the expectation was not that her date (male) would pay. She proudly shared “Rachel says that whoever asks for the date is expected to pay.” Noted, and thanks Rachel. And hey, where was Rachel when I was in middle school? My talk consisted of finding the book Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret with a stickie note saying let me know if you have any questions.

I digressed, but for a good cause.

When the advisor shared the story with her colleague, she learned that her colleague’s husband not only collects trains, but also repairs them. What? A fellow train lover right in our school community? The teen boy has an amazing solution to his train issue and will have more people in his special network of train lovers. How does that not restore your faith in humanity? We could have chosen this situation as a way to teach the teen boy that he should not trust others. But, instead he learned that sometimes bad things happen and end up turning into good things. What an amazing lesson for him to learn. So, thanks to his advisor and her colleague, and all the amazing teens at Carolina Friends School. I am grateful for all of them this holiday season!

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