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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Donuts with Dad- and missing mine.

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.  

Last 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 before.

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.

It's 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.

This 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.


  1. I completely relate, and have had the same fillings, maybe loosing my dad helps me when I work with kids who have lost theirs. I miss my dad all the time, even though I was in my early twenties when my dad passed away it's still hard.
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    The Resource(ful) Room

  2. What a sweet post! My daddy decided I was not worth sticking around. I remember being 5 years old and saying good bye. I did not know at the time that it was our final good bye. He never returned. I grew up with a very strong amazing mother, so on Father's Day I celebrate having her :)
    My Second Sense

  3. Love your post! Just found your blog and am your newest follower (195!)

    Teaching Maddeness
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