He was in one of my first, first grade classes. I remember others calling him the “Harry Potter” kid. He had the look. Dark hair, dark rimmed glasses, wiry frame, intense look. He fit the profile.
He wasn’t like the other kids. Sweet and smart. Goofy and quirky. He was the outsider in a classroom full of “in” kids. He had one friend that he followed and mirrored. The other’s tolerated him in class, ignored him outside of it. He was an Eyore in a group full of Pooh’s and Tigger’s. He fit the profile.
I taught him to read and love books. He read many and treasured most. I hugged him every morning and again as he said good-bye.
He told me stories of his trips to his mother’s home in Jamaica, and showed me pictures of beautiful sands. I listened to stories of his grandma, aunts, and uncles he loved to visit each summer. I shed tears with him when his had to leave to go back to Jamaica because his grandmother was ill, and then again with he and his mom when grandma passed away. He wanted to go and live with his other family.
He made me laugh with his silly stories. He made my heart ache with his emotively sad eyes.
As he grew he became the loner in the school yard. He had a brilliant mind full of Yugi-o and Nintendo, books, and places unseen to other children there. He explained the mysteries of these to me as we met on the playground, me upholding my duty- him looking for an out.
Tall and lanky-dark and brooding. He was the depiction of a child balancing at the edge of a rebellious teen. He fit the profile.
He left our small school, and I only heard bits and pieces of his life. I saw his mom off and on and we chatted of his tribulations. We hugged as we met, and again as we parted. If he was near he would raise a hand then look away. He was not comfortable with the attention.
He was growing, almost a man- still such a boy- uncomfortable in his own skin, but trying to find his way through rebellion and making a stand. Friends were few, enemies many. His mother did not understand. He fit the profile.
Today he took two guns to the high school in his backpack- an opposition from a fight the day before, one that was to ensue again today. This is the school my daughter attends. The school my friend’s children attend. The school my former students attend and friends teach in. The school he weathered.
He had been bullied. He had been an outcast. He searched for attention, and then found it where he could. He fit the profile.
Tonight he sits in jail. We sit thankful to the one that spoke up- our children are safe and unharmed. He is but a boy of sixteen. He is the child that looked like Harry Potter and told wonderful stories of far off lands. He has been singled out, made to feel different, tried to withstand it.
He is just a boy trying to find his way-trying to find his profile.