There are probably many moving stories of touch out of the Roots of Empathy classroom, but do you have a favourite one that you want to share?
Going way back, probably 1998 or 1999, there was this little fellow in a second grade class. He was in foster care and a very aggressive child. The school had had Roots of Empathy classes the year before, and the teacher called me up and said: “Mary, I am so disappointed, but I can’t have Roots of Empathy this year, because I have a very violent little boy who bites, spits, and kicks for no reason. I don’t feel I could be responsible for the safety of a baby in the classroom.” So I spoke to the mother, who we already had in place. I told her that the classroom teacher was worried about the safety of her baby. She asked me if all the children would miss the chance to have the program, because of this one child. Despite all my concerns about the safety of her baby, she replied: “Don’t worry, I’ll bring my husband. He will sit one side of me and the baby and the instructor will be on the other side.” On the third visit, the mother invited this little boy to sit right next to her and the baby. And this little boy had never smiled, right? The baby flipped his leg over onto the leg of the little boy, who had come back from gym class. All the kids were in their shorts, and the little baby’s skin touched his skin. And then he turned to the baby and gave his very first smile. The classroom teacher said that it was the power of that touch, of that little leg on his leg that did it. I mean, maybe it’s not the power of touch, but everybody seemed to think that it was. I think it was. And it was the little boy’s breakthrough.