So…..my kids were not around for 9/11. I can remember sitting in my now husband’s college room, watching the late news on Channel 10, when all of a sudden the breaking news of the first aeroplane came streaming across the screen. As we watched, the second plane came across the screen in the distance and crashed, live, into the second tower. I rang everyone I could. My parents, my sister, my friend…..telling them all, in panic, to turn on their TVs.
I was 20.
I was 20 and I couldn’t fathom what was happening.
How on earth do I explain this latest attack to my kids? Twelve and seven.
It’s everywhere. And Miss Twelve especially, wants to understand.
How do I sit my twelve year old down and explain that there is no reasoning?
How do I sit my twelve year old down and explain that these people were just like us? Going to music concerts in a theatre just like we did at the Capitol 6 weeks ago.
How do I sit my twelve year old down and convince her that terrorists aren’t coming to our little town?
How, at twelve years old, can we expect our kids to see this horror on the TV every time we turn it on and know how to explain it to them?
There is no hiding it? It’s not like when we were young and our parents could keep the goings on outside our little town, a big secret from us. Protecting our little minds from the horrors that were happening on the news.
Now…..it’s everywhere. And I feel like I can’t protect her little mind from it all.
I don’t know how to parent this one.
With a five year age gap between my two cherubs, “That’s not fair!” is a common catchphrase is our household!
With my daughter, it comes down to chore load. “I always have to unload the dishwasher, what does he do?”
He is seven. She is twelve. But trying to explain that expecting the same from the both of them is actually more unfair, is wasting my breath.
“When you were seven, you did as much as he does. And when he is twelve, he will be the one unpacking the dishwasher.”
Unfortunately, this is usually met with a “Whatever”, dripping in attitude and pre teen drama!
For Master Seven, it’s always around what his sister gets to do that he does not. With a five year age gap between my two offspring, there are plenty of things that Miss Twelve is allowed to do, that my poor little man cannot. Sleepovers being the main cause of angst at the moment.
Unbeknownst to me, it has become normal parenting practice for 7 year olds to have sleep overs! I am struggling with this one, especially as Miss Twelve was nine years old before she was allowed to spend the night over anywhere, that wasn’t home or Nanny & Poppy’s house!
But even more recently, it has come to light that this is not just an issue in the home.
As a teacher, in an age where additional needs, home backgrounds, and varying issues are becoming more and more diverse and prominent, my mantra of “Fair Does Not Necessarily Mean Equal” is arising a lot more often than when I started teaching ten years ago.
As the number of children being diagnosed with Additional Needs rises, the number of children who are dealing with primarily adult issues in their homelife every day skyrockets and the variety of issues that kids are forced to face every day widens, it is now, more than ever, true that what is considered “Fair” cannot possibly be the same for every single child, in every single class.
This comes up a lot in regards to behaviour.
I do believe that a degree of consistency needs to be applied in regards to expectations. However, I can almost guarantee that the way I deal with one child, is nearly always going to differ from the way that I deal with the child sitting next to him.
Because he is a different child.
As a teacher, I know which children in my class are dealing with a family break down, a death in the family, an absent parent or the anxiety of a bullying incident on the bus. I know which child is living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which one is trialling a new medication for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder and which one is currently seeing a psychologist for depression or an eating disorder.
I often know why a particular child acted out this morning or refused to do their work.
I also know that seeing that worries your child.
I know all of this and it all comes into how I respond to each and every child in my classroom.
I know that you are going to want to talk about the behaviour of “THAT” child in my room and why I am not signing up to the old school behaviour management that you want me to.
But can I tell you…..you don’t know what I know about “THAT” child. You know his behaviour but you don’t know why we are seeing that behaviour and as his teacher, I usually do.
We no longer live in the school playground that you and I lived in. It’s not a one size fits all model anymore.
So Yes…...there are of course the non negotiables that are never acceptable for anyone in a classroom.
But there is also now a HUGE area of grey.
An area where Fair Does Not Necessarily Mean Equal.