Today was the first day back at work after a week off.
I spent the week with my lovely friend Kimmy, who was over here on a trip that has been the better part of a year in the making - but that's all coming in my next post.
Today I wasn't in class first thing. Well, I was there to greet the children, generally say hello, and then left to have my PPA time. Then towards the end a message comes to me that G (a child) wants to talk to me "because she feels scared".
(G's brother has cancer. He is in and out of hospital a lot and recently had surgery.)
Right away I go and get her and we sit on the sofa outside together. It comes to light that she is worried about her brother. And so begins one of the gentlest and hardest conversations I've ever had with a small child. We talked about how it was perfectly okay and normal to be worried about him. We talked about the medicine he was taking, and the physical side effects (losing his hair). We talked about ways she could show him that she loves him (lots of hugs and kisses), and we talked about ways she could look after herself when she is sad. And of course I made it completely clear that I would always have time to listen to whatever she wanted to say. She seemed reassured, and even laughed as we talked about how his hair might grow back (we decided ginger and curly would be best), and I think she went back into class happier.
But I see a lot more of these conversations in the future... I spoke to leadership afterwards, who are going to phone her parents to see how they would like us to proceed. It's a very hard conversation to have with a 6-year-old...
Let's just say, teacher training courses don't prepare you for this.
It is these sorts of moments that remind me sometimes, of the incredible role teachers have in children's lives. For some children, their class teacher is the only predictable, consistent and constant adult in their lives. And to be the one adult who a child who "feels scared" wants to turn to, is a real honour. A scary one, but an honour nonetheless.