utah_prairie_dog2.jpgMrs. G. was teaching a class a while back, and she and the kids (4th and 5th graders) were discussing The Captain’s Dog by Roland Smith. This is a wonderful book about the Lewis and Clark expedition told from the perspective of Captain Lewis’ dog Seamen. The conversation had just turned to the wretchedness of eating a black tailed prairie dog when a new boy walked into the classroom. He had a yellow slip in his hand indicating he was a new student to the school. He was a cute little guy with shiny black hair and John Lennon glasses. He looked a little fearful and was white-knuckling the strap of his backpack. Mrs. G. went up to him and welcomed him to the class. She asked the boy his name and he didn’t respond…and didn’t respond…and didn’t respond.

It was just starting to get awkward when one of the boys in the class, busting with excitement, shot up like a rocket and bellowed I MET HIM THIS MORNING. HIS NAME IS HOWARD AND HE DOESN’T TALK MUCH. HE’S ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS! This morning? Best friends? It turns out Howard really doesn’t talk. Ever. He has a disconnect between his brain and his mouth. But Mrs. G. saw Howard breathe a sigh of relief and slide into the chair next to his new best friend. And after this stunning moment of grace, the discussion resumed.