They had never considered wearing each other clothes. What was mine was mine. What was theirs was theirs. They had worn each item till it was thread bare and seams pulled under arm pits and at the waist. A mother bought it big to begin with and they “grew into them” and then the clothes were worn out. Shoes were much the same. Holes appeared in the bottoms before another person could fit into them.
So the winter that Nick came into her classroom she recognized the coat and it surprised her. Even though she had taught many classes, the idea that a coat would survive to be worn by a younger child did not happen. At least not that she could remember. But here Nick was in a hand-me-down coat. It was blue with red piping. The hood was beautiful and no dirt or tears could be seen. The coat looked absolutely new.
Nick was very proud of his coat and when show and tell time came, he ran to the coat rack and retrieved the coat so he could tell the story. His brother had worn the coat before and an older brother yet had given it to his older brother. The coat had become almost magical in Nick’s eyes. A little boy could look very grown up when he wore his big brother’s coat. He took very good care of it.
The year passed, snow came and went and spring appeared early that year. Coats stayed at home and many simply were lost during that period of time. Then winter came back with one last storm late in March. Nick was one of the few that could still find his coat.
It came time for show and tell that snowy morning. Nick ran one more time to retrieve his coat, a little worn this time with the string from the hood gone. But that was not what Nick wanted to tell about.
“My coat is shrinking,” he announced.
They were all stunned. A shrinking coat? Heads turned sideways and she looked in wonder at the little boy.
“You coat is shrinking?”
“Yes, my coat fit me just fine last fall. It was really a little big. Didn’t you notice? Let me show you what has happened.” and he slipped the coat on. The sleeves came part way up his arm and the bottom didn’t fall below his waist like it had in the fall.
“See,” he said, “it is shrinking!”
“Why Nick, I think you might be right. It might be shrinking. Or….” She looked in the little boys eyes and saw the miracle of it all. Later there would be plenty time enough for him to learn about growing up and and a world with no magic. For now she looked at the coat and said out loud “Or your coat could just have a little magic in it’s pocket.”
“Yes” he said, “it might have magic in the pockets.” He just smiled and sat down.
This one is for you Nick Bell wherever you are!!
I have told this story before…the other story was about how I thought Nick acted before the coat actually fit him. This is what really happened in my classroom all those years ago.