"Well, THIS is how I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and you're going to eat it, young man," said the father.
The little boy stomps out of the room, and doesn't eat the carefully crafted sandwich made for him.
This is a classic case of divorce. One parent does things one way, while the other parent might do it a different way ... and you know who's caught in the middle???
You guessed it: The child.
We as teachers don't truly know the ramifications that a situation like this has on a child. Each case is different. Sometimes we're caught up in all of the requirements of what we're supposed to do curriculum-wise, that we forget that these children need one major thing from us:
That's why every day I look into each one of my student's eyes to see if they're OK. I can tell right away. Most of the time, they're all right, and we can move on with our day.
However, there are times when they need us.
In those times, I stop what I'm doing, and get to the bottom of it... immediately.
Because they need to know that they are special, and that I care.
Building that trust from the 1st day of school helps. Sometimes they don't open up until a few weeks (or even months), but they almost always do eventually.
Even the students that have 2 parents at home have difficulty. Maybe it's not a good situation, and they're affected emotionally by all of the verbal baggage that comes with what they're hearing on a nightly basis.
Listen carefully: every child needs you. Don't forget that simple fact.
They need you to be a teacher, a counselor, a listener, a caretaker, a moderator, a facilitator, a role-model... and I could go on and on.
You KNOW that they need it, so make sure that you're observant of their needs.
I surely needed it when I was eight years old, and I was lucky enough to have some awesome elementary teachers in my life that recognized that fact.
One of the ONLY memories that I have of my dad was when I threw a fit while he was trying to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (My parents divorced when I was 9 months old).
It wasn't the way that my mom made it.
I stormed out of the room.
I really can't remember what happened next, but it's not about the peanut butter and jelly sandwich (and EVERY time I make one, I think about that moment...even 30+ years later).
It's about how I want to treat others ... and about how I want to be treated.
Should I have stormed out of that room that day? Probably not.
But it made me a stronger person, because you know what?
Things don't always go our way. Even when we're an adult.
Don't stomp out of the room.
You'll regret it.
My teachers didn't know about this peanut butter and jelly story... but they could see it in my eyes that next Monday morning.
My simple message to them:
"Thanks for believing in me."