I Love Daisy

By Wendy Hsieh


It was in my ESL (English as a Second Language) class when I first saw Daisy.


Peering at a new teacher like me whose knowledge about students was limited, Daisy threw me a sharp question, “Hey, when can I get out of ESL? I have been here since kindergarten. This class drives me crazy!”


The Head Student


Judging from her English fluency and interactions, I could not tell why Daisy needed ESL service, which targets foreign students to enhance their English proficiency.


But since Daisy was on my student roster sheet, there must have been a reason.


Of Mexican heritage, Daisy had beautifully tanned skin, but she looked short with her over-weighted figure. Her black-and-white eyes were big but seemed to be unfocused under a narrow forehead and frizzy hair, Daisy had a funny smell when you stood by her. At times, Daisy would put her hands into pockets of the blue jacket with its zipper all the way down. Even though her appearance was not that attractive, Daisy was good at using exaggerated body language to get people’s attention.


Curious about Daisy, I went to the office to look into her file. The secretary, who wore a stylish bur­gundy wig, pointed at Daisy’s name with her manicured hands and said, “Mrs. Hsieh, don’t bother to look through her records. What would you like to know? Probably I could help you.”


According to the secretary, Daisy was a child from a family with many complicated issues. After her parents were divorced, Daisy had been living with her mom and the step-father. She had learning disabilities and emotional problems and needed to take medicines or occasionally be hospitalized. After going through Daisy’s background in detail, the kind-hearted secretary winked at me, “It’s your luck to have Daisy, wish you all the best!” I realized that there would be a battle ahead of me.


As expected, Daisy soon started criticizing my instructions in class. At the beginning, I comforted her with compliments and encouragement. It worked for a while. Nevertheless, after receiving a poor grade on her first report card, Daisy’s attitude became worse.


Dare to Challenge


Once for no reason, she refused to attend my class. After talking privately with her in the hallway, I convinced Daisy to join the class. However, less than ten minutes, she began passing notes and spoke in Spanish to provoke the whole class to fool around. In order to stop Daisy’s disruptive behavior, I had many conversations with her during the recess. It was in vain. As stubborn as a rock, Daisy ignored my preaching and challenged me, “You know what, I am not afraid of you because you are not strict enough!” Upon hearing the disrespectful comments, I felt like a flame was soaring up in me, I felt like I would explode.


One day, during my lesson, surprisingly, Daisy took a picture of another student by using a digital camera hidden in her pocket. Once hearing the flash sound, I could no longer hold my anger and scolded Daisy for her inappropriate behavior. I asked her to give me the camera; otherwise, I would send her to the principal’s office.


She suddenly became like a porcupine with all her thorns up, “Besides telling the principal, what else can you do? They’ll fire you!” she screamed. She lifted the chair nearby and threw it on the floor with all her might. Within the blink of an eye, the classroom had become a place of chaos.


Facing the turmoil in the class caused by Daisy, I decided to go to the principal, Mr. Kozi, and told him the story between Daisy and me. The guidance counselor, Mrs. Elliot, was present as well. Irritated and frustrated, I shared the unpleasant encounter with Daisy and made it clear that I needed help.


After patiently hearing my prosecution, Mr. Kozi gave me a smile, “Mrs. Hsieh, I certainly understand how you feel now. To be honest with you, Daisy has been notorious for her bullying behavior. I will definitely stop her misbehavior by talking with her. However, try to put yourself in Daisy’s shoes; she is a very fragile kid and needs love desperately. I know you are a loving person. If you could show more of your love, I’m telling you, she would give in.”


Meanwhile, Mrs. Elliot reminded me to be soft-spoken and sensitive to Daisy’s situation.


Daisy’s Wound


Mrs. Elliot’s reminder made me become more curious about Daisy. What caused Daisy’s pain? What should I do to tear down the wall in Daisy and resolve the differences between us?


A wound can only be cured by using the proper remedy. The idea of writing a daily note to Daisy came to my mind. By jotting down encouraging words on a heart-shaped post-it, I practiced loving and caring to Daisy. Everyday, at the end of class, I gave her the note. At first, she was reluctant to take those notes and even threw them into garbage in front of me. Instead of being discouraged, I was determined to keep sending notes and believed that I would eventually touch Daisy’s heart.


A few months passed. During the lunch hour before Christmas, Daisy showed up in my room, “Mrs. Hsieh, may I have a talk with you.” “Sure, you may!” I was shocked but pleased to welcome the unexpected guest. Taking out the homemade pecan cookies from the jar with triumph, I asked Daisy to sit by me. Miraculously, rather than putting her hands in her pockets, Daisy laid her hands on her laps comfortably and started to uncover her unusual life experiences.


Since her childhood, Daisy had been sexually abused by her birth father. Afraid to expose her father, Daisy had been mentally and physically abused for a long time. Then Daisy’s mother accidentally found her husband’s immoral behavior and called the police to arrest him. After her father was put behind bars, based on juvenile law, Daisy was assigned an attorney-at-law to deal with her lawsuit. At the same time, Daisy was also under psychological therapy for her unsteady mind. For a twelve-year-old girl like her, Daisy truly bore a burden that was way beyond her limit.


As she grew older, the resentment inside her never faded; however, Daisy struggled whether she should continue the lawsuit against her father. There had been a question in her mind, “Did Dad ever love me?”


With tears in her eyes, Daisy showed me the deep cut beneath her wrist band. It was the consequence of self-abuse after she had quarreled with her mother last year.


Daisy’s mother remarried and since then had been sporadic in tending Daisy because of a busy schedule.


With a depressed tone, Daisy sobbed and said, “Mrs. Hsieh, my life has been miserable. I can’t think of anyone who loves me, not even my parents. I wish God would kill me!” Sitting closer to Daisy, I held my tears, “Daisy, listen, I love you and God loves you more!”


From her pockets, Daisy took out a pile of heart-shaped post-its that I had been giving her. “Because of your caring and encouraging, I feel loved. However, I don’t understand why He puts me in this misfortune if He loves me.”


“Daisy, like an architect, God has a different blueprint for everyone. We are like houses to be built, our sizes and structures are under His control. During the construction, God allows us to be tempted and tested so that we can be durable in the future. Compared with flowers that grow in a greenhouse, the oak tree that’s suffered wind and rain is stronger and taller.” Daisy was silent and did not say anything.


“Daisy, you are really unique and talented.” I said.


“Me? Unique? You mean my ‘unusual suffering’, right? It sounds sarcastic.”


“No, definitely not,” I corrected myself immediately, “I mean you are unique because you are creative and have the talent to be a great leader. If you could get your potential developed, you could impact many other people.” With a frown, Daisy held her chin and sadly responded, “It’s hard, I don’t see any good in me.”


Looking through the book shelves, I found the book, You are Special by Max Lucado. “Read this story, it will be beneficial for you. Never devalue yourself because of others’ comments or attitudes. In God’s eyes, you are not only precious but also special!”


At that moment, Daisy’s unfocused black-and-white eyes had been compassionate and clear. Something seemed to be glowing in her eyes.


“Oh, by the way, Mrs. Hsieh, this is for you.” Daisy gave me a card made out of construction paper. On the top of the green paper, a person’s portrait in red was vividly shown.


I pointed at the portrait “Who is this?”


“It’s you, Mrs. Hsieh. It took me three days to make the card!” Looking at her sweet smile, I gave Daisy a big hug.


“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Hsieh!” said Daisy while wiping off the crumbs on her lips. “Same to you, Daisy!”


Relaxed and satisfied, Daisy rested in my arms like a tame deer. The anxiety in Daisy had been amazingly replaced with tenderness and humility. Like a mother who found her lost child, I held Daisy tightly and gratefully. During the lunch hour, things had been incredibly blended, the aroma of pecan cookies, the joy of two hearts and the fragrance of harmony. With delightful tears in my eyes, I felt Christmas was here early for me.



Wendy Hsieh is from Taiwan. She works as an ESL teacher in the NYC public school system. Since her childhood, Wendy has enjoyed writing. She is the mother of two children, a ten-year-old and four-month-old. As a Christian, Wendy sees writing as a mission, a way to share the Good News.


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