Early in my career as an educator I had the blessed priviledge to have a little boy named Michael assigned to my elementary classroom. He was a foster child being reared by a gracious woman who took in three siblings. Michael was her youngest. A "fetal alcohol syndrome" baby. The public education/fostercare system ensured that label would accompany him into First Grade.
Peanut Head I called him. Not to his face, but to my partner Tom, when we would discuss our daily lives back then in the evenings over copious glasses of cheap wine and classless cheese.
Peanut Head stayed with me for his first two years of his early education. After First Grade, his foster mother requested me as his Second Grade teacher because, as she said to the Principal, "He's comfortable with Mr. Miller."
I now know that I made him comfortable by loving him. And I have to know he loved me, as a fatherless African American young boy. I think I made a difference. But not enough.
I gave Michael a pass, because of his disability. Because he seemed so delicate. I did not challenge him to the same rigor I had for other students. It was "comfortable".
I should have taught Michael to read.