A mother and her child with Attention Deficit Disorder, were walking through the grocery store. Tommy, the young boy, was getting into things and the mother was at her wits end. Trying to be patient (but patience was almost tapped out) the mother, Anne, began to raise her voice as Tommy didn't even seem to hear her.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with you Tommy!"
She was so frustrated, and loved Tommy very much, but at this moment the patience was gone. More frustrated with herself for not having the answers, and probably mad at herself for being a single mother because she didn't want him growing up with a father who couldn't stay away from the bottle, she threw up her hands and then folded her arms across her chest. She stood there in the middle of the aisle and her eyes filled with water.
"Miss?" Came a man's voice? "Can I help you?"
"Oh sure, if you can get him to listen, go for it." She gestured her son.
"What is your son's name ma'am?"
The stranger walked around to the front of the cart and faced Tommy. In a calm and gentle voice he started speaking to the boy.
"Hi." Tommy didn't seem interested as he reached to pull something off the shelves.
"How old are you Tommy?"
"I'm five, how old are you?" Tommy kept focusing everywhere but on the stranger.
"I'm 50 now Tommy, but I remember being five. When I was five my mother brought me to a school where I learned how to fight. I got to punch things and kick things. It was a lot of fun."
For the first time Tommy's eyes met the eyes of the stranger. "I like to punch things, but then I get in trouble."
"Well, if you come to my school you can do that and not get in trouble. Would you like that?"
Totally focused on the man now with this new-found interest Tommy nodded with a big smile.
"Mr." Anne said, "I'm not sure who you are, but I won't have my son going to a school to learn how to fight. He'll end up getting in trouble."
"Ma'am, your son is fighting all the time. He is fighting within his mind. He is fighting for attention from the people around him. He is fighting his own emotions because there is no father in his life. He is fighting to his own inability to focus and I seriously think I can help him."
"How do you know he doesn't have a father?"
"I know that I didn't. So I know what I'm seeing. I will charge you nothing. Let me help you by helping him."
"Why would you do that? Nobody does that. Nothing is free."
"Today is your lucky day. Here is my card. You can check my credentials."
Anne's eyes started to water. "I feel like an incompetent mother. Especially now that a stranger seems to know my son better than I do."
"You are being very hard on yourself miss. Look around you. See all the people in this store? Every single one of them is good at something. Every one of them has that one thing in their life they are good at. And you do too. You just have a lot on your plate and at the same time you want to be a good mother. A blind man would know that, just in the sound of your voice when you spoke to Tommy a few minutes ago. You are a good person. You just need a little help. If Tommy comes to my school, you will get a break for two hours three times a week. In that time that he is at my class, go for a drive. Go to a library and read. Go sit on the shore of a lake. Trust me."
"I don't even know your name."
"I am Mr. Blake. You can call my Michael."
"I'm Anne. I'll give it some thought. Do you really think you can help him?"
"Anne, Tommy needs a way to let out his energy. He needs a place to focus on his inner self. Inside he is screaming for attention from others and he has a need to find something within himself that is missing. The sense of self confidence he will get from his own accomplishments will help him to channel his energy and focus his thoughts in a direction where he is in control of himself and his emotions.
"You seem so calm and so sure of yourself."
"I wasn't always, Anne. When I was in the far East, I learned something from a man there. He said, 'If you want to be great, learn how to help people. To hurt people is easy.' As it turns out, the old man was right. Today, maybe I saw myself in Tommy and maybe this is my way of paying back that old man for the lessons he taught me."
"Thank you Mr. Blake." Anne shook his hand. They were half way down the middle of the grocery aisle when she turned around and started to walk away. She turned back to give Mr. Blake a smile, but the man was gone.
Had he really been there? Was this all real or just her imagination.
She reached into her jacket pocket and took out his card. The heading at the top of the card simply said "The School."
Below was written, "When all else fails, try something else." She thought about the words that didn't seem to make sense to her. At the bottom, at the top of the address, it did not give the stranger's name, but simply said, "The teacher."
"Who was that man?" Tommy was looking into his mother's eyes and for some mysterious reason, he seemed totally focused on what her answer was going to be. She looked back in the direction where the man had to have left, then looked back into her son's inquiring eyes and answered, "That was your new teacher Tommy."