• Tammy Davis

A New Pair of Shoes - Part Two of the Lamar Series

Updated: Nov 23, 2019

Lamar Thomas* - Part Two

On our first day back after Christmas break, Lamar did something odd. He ran in, said hello, and then took his shoes off. He lined them up carefully beside his desk and then slip slided back out into the hall for a few more minutes of socializing before class started.

He told me those shoes were his favorite Christmas present. He said he didn’t want them to get messed up.

Later in the week I had recess duty and saw him playing basketball in his socks on an asphalt court with little gravel rocks. No way I was going to let that happen.

I called for him. He pretended he didn’t hear me. I called again. He ignored me again so I stepped into the middle of the game and took the ball. He snatched it back out of my hands and told me to get off the court. I had never seen this side of Lamar. I put my face as close to his as I could and told him to sit out. He did, and I was relieved.

He was furious. I thought he was upset because I interrupted the game or because he was worried about getting his shoes messed up. I had no clue what was going on with that boy.

He sulked through class. I was OK with that.

The next week I wasn’t on duty but was outside when I saw Lamar stumble and then start hopping on one foot while holding the other. Sure enough, he had been playing basketball in his socks and had cut his foot. I told the teacher on duty I would get him to the nurse. I fussed the whole way. In the midst of my lecture, the tears came. He told me his shoes were too tight. They were the wrong size. I asked him why he didn’t just tell someone at the orphanage. He said he was afraid they would just give them to a kid with smaller feet, and he would have nothing.

We sat down outside the nurse’s office in heavy brown, wooden chairs – the kind that are outside every nurse’s office. He held his face in his hands and the tears fell onto his lap. I told him to look at my face. He did. I told him I promised I would make sure he got shoes that were the right size. I asked him if he trusted me. He nodded. I told him I needed him to say it out loud. He did.

That big tough kid wiped his eyes like a toddler would and a slow smile spread across his face. The hustler in him was quick to remind me that I always told the students not to make a promise they could not keep. Teachers should do the same.

I wanted to hug that child so tight, but he was far too cool for that.

The nurse cleaned the little cut and sent him back to class. I really don’t remember who took care of getting the boy a new pair of shoes. Maybe it was a social worker or maybe it was someone from the children’s home or maybe the principal bought them himself. That happened a lot.

All I remember is that Lamar got a new pair of shoes that he loved, a new pair of shoes that did not hurt his feet. It was handled outside the classroom, as it should be. We never spoke of the shoe incident again.

Lamont continued being a basketball superstar each day at recess. I continued trying to teach those students some language arts skills.

On that day, all was right in the world in my classroom on the third floor. Lamar had a pair of shoes that he loved that did not hurt his feet. I did not have to have any more basketball court confrontations. Our worlds were as right as they could be.

Tammy Davis is a local writer. She changed the name of this student to protect his privacy. She encourages people to support local groups who help all the many Lamar Thomas’ of the world.

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