Gap Toothed Smile
“Boys! Stop that right now. Joel, you get off of him.” Ms. Warkentin couldn’t believe that Joel was attacking sweet little Aaron; Joel was at least twice his size! She pulled the boys apart and sent Joel straight to Mr. Randal’s office.
“You ok?” Aaron nodded his head slightly, staring down at the dirt. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.” Ms. Warkentin wrapped her arm around his shoulders affectionately as they left the playground together.
Back in the classroom, she reached into her desk drawer for the first aide kit. “That’s not like you to be in a fight Aaron. What were you two boys fighting about?” She dabbed some ointment onto his scraped knees with a cotton ball and covered them with band aides. Aaron just sat still on the edge of her desk, his head hung down and tears trickling through the dust covering his cheeks.
“He, he was making fun of my teeth. He said I look like a Hill Billy. Ms. Warkentin, what’s a Hill Billy?” Aaron rubbed his eye with a grubby fist and looked up with a pitiful expression that melted Lori’s heart. The space between his front teeth was quite large, but that didn’t give Joel the right to mistreat him. Sometimes she didn’t know what to do about that boy. She grabbed a paper towel and walked to the sink.
“Sweetie, don’t you worry about that. You’re not a Hill Billy.” She walked back to the boy and began washing his face and picking grass out of his tousled hair. “You know, before I grew older and had to buy these fake teeth, I used to have a gap in my teeth too. Did you know that?”
“Really?” Aaron’s eyes brightened a little when he heard Ms. Warkentin’s secret.
“Yep. Kids used to tease me about it too. Sometimes I’d cry all the way home from school. That is, until I finally told my mother about it. You know what she said that changed everything?”
“What?” he sniffled, his curiosity mingled with faint hope.
“She told me that when you love Jesus very much, He lives in your heart. Sometimes when you’re a really special child to God, He puts a little space in your teeth.”
“Why would He do that?” Aaron’s hope turned to confusion. “Sounds like a kinda mean thing to do if ya love somebody.”
“Well, mother said that if you have a gap toothed grin it means that every time you smile, people can look right through that little space and see Jesus down in your heart. You love Jesus too, don’t you Aaron?”
“Oh yes! You know I do Ms. Warkentin!”
“Well that means you better show off that smile of yours and be proud of that gap. The more you smile at people, even people like Joel who are mean to you, the more they will get to see Jesus in you. Understand?”
“I think so.”
“Good! Now run on back outside and enjoy what’s left of your recess.”
“Thanks Ms. Warkentin. I’m gonna smile and show everybody Jesus.” Aaron hopped off her desk and ran out the door with a huge grin on his face.
That put a grin on Lori’s face too.
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