Way back at the start I used to teach the daughter of a close colleague and good friend of mine. My friend had been helping me through those difficult days when you are busy trying to apply all of the information, theory and essay writing from college into something that you can use on ‘actual children’ – (like people, but smaller was always my favourite description.)
Anyway, we regularly met up for coffee and social engagements and I got to know them well in and out of school. It was my first education into how different children are when they are at home compared to when they are in the classroom.
She was a dear sweet little thing who couldn’t do enough to help, listened nicely, joined in enthusiastically at tidy up time – (I have previously explained that this is a euphemism used by teachers to describe the time when children are herded into one part of the room and trapped there with a book while staff frantically put everything away.) By contrast, at home, she was loud, messy and frequently didn’t do things she was asked! I loved her.
On one visit we were met by my friend at the door;
“This may not be the best time, her pet mouse died last night, and we only just found it.”
We were invited in anyway, to commiserate with a distraught and upset little girl who was sitting forlornly on her tiny chair drawing pictures of her recently deceased pet.
“Is there anything that would make you feel better?” her dad asked. “Anything at all? What could I get you that would help you feel less sad?”
She looked up at him, big eyes starting to brim with tears again, head tilted at exactly the right angle to make her look as miserable as possible;
“I don’t know, I am very sad.”
“Do you want another pet, a new mouse?”
A slight sobbing sound and more sad looks.
“Tell me what you think would make things okay.”
“Well, maybe if I had a Gameboy….”