Our newest student stood shyly at the front of the class and introduced herself. ‘My name is Cherry Blossom,’ she said.

Ben Adams smirked and began to snigger. I knew the whole class would quickly follow so gave him ‘the look’, a stare I’d perfected over three decades of teaching, with the power of silencing even the naughtiest child.

‘Let’s all welcome Cherry,’ I said. Applause and greetings followed. I knew some of Cherry’s story. An orphaned refugee from Myanmar, I guessed she’d been given the name by someone with the misguided assumption that her birth name would cause her to stand out. Someone who also mistakenly believed that all Asian people looked alike. ‘Cherry Blossom’ was hardly likely to allow her to blend in, and Myanmar is a long way from Japan where the Cherry Blossom is the National flower.

Although the children included Cherry in all their playtime activities, I often noticed a sad faraway look in her eyes. Understandable considering all she must have been through. I hoped, with time, the pain of her past would abate.

Whenever a child had a birthday, parents supplied cupcakes and the class sang Happy Birthday. During one such celebration I noticed tears flowing down Cherry’s cheeks.

I immediately went to her and asked what was the matter. In halting English she told me she couldn’t remember ever having a birthday. Her parents died when she was three and no one knew her date of birth.

All the children fell silent.

‘I think tomorrow would be a good day for Cherry’s birthday,’ Ben blurted suddenly.

The other children nodded and I promised to bring cupcakes the following day.

I was unprepared for the sight that met me when I reached the classroom the next morning.

Ben and his friends had decorated the room with balloons and streamers, and every child had brought in birthday treats and presents.

Cherry cried again… happy tears!

And just when I thought the day couldn’t be more perfect, Ben produced a branch laden with flowers.

‘It’s Cherry Blossom,’ he grinned. ‘Beautiful, just like our Cherry.’

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

Children can be very cruel at school, so it’s nice to read a story where the children do something so selfless. Lovely story, nicely written.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
7 months ago

Such a heartwarming story Sandra. I felt quite emotional after reading it. Nicely done.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
7 months ago

So many of the stories this month were sad, Sandra, but this was the first one that actually brought tears to my eyes. There was something about the little girl that didn’t know her own birthday … This is beautifully written, with sensitivity and gracefulness. So glad you had time for one story, even during such a hectic month.

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Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills (@greene-m-wills-2)
7 months ago

Children should only cry happy tears. I loved the way you described a little girl’s nostalgia, Sandra – fantastic!

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
7 months ago

Heart-warming Sandra! In your story the children have expressed their emotions in a healthy, positive way.

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
7 months ago
Reply to  Sandra James

You’re quite right, Sandra. The character that we form as children stays with us into our adult life.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

Hi Sandra, there will never be enough love in this world, and your story has added a little more to it Sandra. I just loved the the way in which you used the teacher to turn the story around. She was the pivotal point in the story to me, a look that changed. Well Sandra I wished I had had a teacher as wise a yours. Another classic story.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

It’s a wonderful story, Sandra, showing that there is reason for hope and optimism in this world. With a traumatizing childhood, Cherry Blossom needed all the support, friendship and acceptance available. Thanks to a wonderful teacher and some great kids, her life could start to turn around. Tears of sadness turned into tears of joy and gratitude. I wish your story could be read in school classes and inspire children to act in similar ways.

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Santina Forlenza
Santina Forlenza (@santina-forlenza)
7 months ago

Ohhh Sandra, this the best birthday party ever.

Brigitta Hegyi
Brigitta Hegyi (@brigitta-hegyi)
7 months ago

We had the same tradition, to bring cake and sweets to celebrate birthdays. Being kind to each other costs nothing. Sweet story!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

Wow. This story touches my heart. Very heart-warming. Their selfless deed speaks louder than words. Well written.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago
Reply to  Sandra James

Yes. I agree with you, Sandra. You’re most welcome.

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