The first part of this one was posted at my old blog a couple of years ago, when I taught 2nd grade at a much higher-poverty school.
week was our "Dad's Breakfast" at school. I remember having Donuts with
Dad when I was in elementary school, and I loved it. Dad came with us,
sat with us, and dropped us off at school. It was so special, because
normally, Mom was the one who helped us get ready in the mornings and
then we rode the bus.
The night before the dad's
breakfast, an announcement was made throughout the
school reminding students. Just after the announcement, I noticed one of
our students in tears. I talked to her for a few moments, and she
shared that she was crying because her dad was put in jail the night
Another student today was reading a story with
me. We read the word "parents" and she told me she really "only has one
parent, my mom." She's told me previously that her dad was in jail and
doesn't get to come home until "she's all grown up" (and this girl is in
second grade right now).
It still amazes me to
hear the candor and ease with which these students share. When I was in
elementary school, I can't remember ever hearing students talk about
their parents being in jail- and I think if someone's parents were, the kid would have been ashamed.
Today, at least in my school, that's different. The kids have no shame, because it's so normal for them. Having a single-parent family, or even a parent in jail, is so typical and commonplace
that no one thinks a thing of sharing it. I know that this changes
somewhat as the children age (at this age, the kids don't have all that
much of a filter for what they share), but it's still amazing to me.
not all jail, either. One girl told me that her dad had died a year
ago. It's all hard to hear, but I am glad that I feel like I have
something to say to a student who's missing her dad being around.
My dad died suddenly when I was in fifth grade, and even though
it was over 14 years ago, there are times when the grief hits me hard. I
always tell the students that I don't know exactly how they feel, but I
do know that it's hard sometimes to have a parent gone, especially for a
long time, because I've been there. I am there, still.
year, I'm in a very different school climate. It's not so much jail and
missing parents, but a couple of kids in split custody, or with a
parent gone on business a lot, or in one case- her dad was deployed.
But still, when a little kid comes to me missing their dad... it just
hits home a little more. And I guess I hope that, as hard as that is,
maybe it's something that can- at least- help me relate to some of my
students who need it the most.
A silver lining, maybe?
Anyway- happy Father's Day. If your dad is still with you, make
sure and give him some extra hugs, and take another picture of the two
of you together. Someday, you might cherish it.