It was the Friday before father’s day; last day of school. I thought it would be a good idea to get the children to make cards for their dads. We started the session with a discussion on the significance of Father’s day and lots of the children took turns to state who their cards would be addressed to. All except one boy. He would not participate in the discussion or respond to questions about who he may want to address his card to. I let him be as I was not sure if there was a back story to his refusal to join in. It turned out later that there was a back story after all.
As teachers we need to be considerate and pay close attention to such issues. I grew not knowing my biological dad for a long time. Till now, I don’t think anyone around me grasped the full extent of the impact this had on me. I was super quiet and would generally not speak until spoken to. Not because I did not want to talk, but because I was deep in thoughts most of the time. So when this boy refused to participate in our Father’s day excitement, I empathized with him as I saw myself in him.
A lot of children have a view of the world portrayed to them by their surroundings and books. I went for the books. My books then, had a dad, mum and two kids. Dad was always present in the books. But not so in my real world. This can be hard for children to grasp. I remember having repeated dreams that my dad was a super hero in a red cape (no thanks to Superman!). He would fly and come and rescue me from the top of a building. I would nurse these dreams for days, weeks and months on end, willing for them to come through.
As I grew older, I learnt to manage my expectations. I learnt to appreciate my environment and the people around me that loved unconditionally. I learnt that a lot of families were not like the ones in my books. I learnt that I could work on myself and have a family of my own where hopefully, a dad will be present.
Within the school environment, we must help children this way. They may never have a home as a safe haven, but we can do so much in school to make an impact that cannot be erased. Do you know the back stories of the children in your class? How have you used that to help them manage their expectations of life?