It was the end of the day.
The last day of school before Christmas break.
It had been a full day of singing and snacking and parties and presents. A loud day.
He has only been their teacher for a month - taken on the grade five class of ruffians when their teacher left to have a beautiful baby. He is their first male classroom teacher, so they are all learning together.
I came up to the classroom to find Ellie and to say goodbye - to wish him a Merry Christmas.
He was standing at the door, wishing his charges well as they left for their two week vacation. This is when I got my window into beauty. As we were chatting, one of the taller boys in the class came up to him, wrapped his arms tight around his waist and hugged him. The gift was returned as his arms wrapped around his student. It was a momentary embrace, but his student lingered awhile, with his head sideways on his chest, savouring the feeling of the tight strong arms around him. It was solid and soft at the same time, full of kindness and nurture.
I don't know the student who came for his goodbye. Maybe he doesn't get hugs from a dad at home, or maybe he gets them all of the time. Maybe there is a dad living in his four walls, or maybe he only seems him sometimes.
What I do know is that when an eleven year old boy comes for a hug, and his male teacher hugs him back good and proper - in that moment - something breaks open.
It did for me.