Good, thinks the teacher. He hasn't had many smiles these past few weeks.
"Hi, Teacher," he says.
"Good morning, Mountain," says the teacher with an answering smile. "What are you going to work on in choice time this morning?" She waves toward the other children getting settled around the room at the morning work stations: Legos, painting, reading, scrounge art, small games.
"Can I draw in my journal?" asks Mountain, looking up at the teacher.
"Sure," she says, a little surprised. The teacher watches him thoughtfully as he moves to the shelf under the windowsill to get his writing box. This is new --he almost always goes to the Legos.
At this point in the morning it is her habit to move around the room to see what kids are doing, to say Wow and Hmmm and, when necessary, to put out fires. After a few minutes of this purposeful wandering she comes to Mountain, working on a picture with many crayons, great energy, and his usual artistic flair. She looks over his shoulder.
"This must be a picture of your family," she says. "I see your big dogs, and Papa -- and is that your brother next to you? He is getting tall, isn't he!"
Mountain nods coloring steadily. Still looking at his drawing, now nearly all colored in, she realizes that his mom is not in the picture at all.
"Can I do anything for you, Mountain?" she asks.
"No, thanks, Teacher," he says, not looking up. "I don't need any help."
Well, thinks the teacher as she moves on. Not with drawing, at least.