I have amazing kids. I mean , yes I know everyone says that but even if they weren't mine I would still feel the same. They are both dealing with some things this week that I am not sure most adults could handle with such ease and kindness.
Apple is 11 and in the 5th grade. Monday it came out that one of her classmates was pregnant. The news spread like wild fire amongst the adults and yes, I am also guilty. There are many versions of what happened, whether by choice or chance I am unsure. Honestly I don't care, I am not here to judge. No matter that she is as tall as I am and has hit puberty full on, she is a child plain and simple and all the "stories" have pointed to older boys or men. I used this situation to sit down and talk to my girls. App looked positively stricken. In fact I thought she was going to throw up. Bug, being in Middle School has become a little more jaded to the on goings between the kids and while she has not known anyone personally, she knows the possibilities of a pregnancy are there. Has heard things and known people who know people, yadda yadda. Fifth grade... 5th! These girls should still be playing with Barbies and watching Hanna Montana. Okay, maybe both are bad examples but you get my point. Apple, while fueled with all this knowledge has not said one word to anyone.... She has the HUGEST morsel of gossip. TV shows are built around situations such as this and she has not uttered a word.
Now like I said I sat down and talked with the girls. Of course about the obvious. They know the basics about sex... have asked questions and know that pregnancy and STD's are a risk. But this makes it hit close to home. It is real... these things happen. But I have also used it to show them about gossip and humanity in general. I have heard so many stories and versions and the whole chinese telephone effect of it all. If it comes around now to me I just say "Yes, I know a student is pregnant and yes I know who it is. No I know nothing else and I'm not saying who it is." When this girl walked in today, you saw the weight of the world on her shoulders. To say she looked stricken would be vastly understating it. Apple noticed too and brought it up after school. She was concerned because she noticed that the girl didn't eat lunch and then just got up and walked out. I see the wheels turning in App's head on how does she help her... even just walk up and let her know she is there for this girl in some way, but can't. Apple has to keep this knowledge to herself.
Now while there is new life in our school, Bug is dealing with the death of her best friends Mom. In January she told me her BFF was going through a lot because his mom had cancer. Well on Monday she found out she passed away. While the other kids are texting "when are you coming back" she is trying to keep his spirits up and give him a shoulder. She asked me today if she could meet him for an hour at the coffee shop near his house during spring break next week. She told me she is worried about him being cooped up in the house to long with no outlet for his grief. Thinks getting out if even for a little while might be good for him. What adult thinks of that let alone a 12 year old. We talked a bit about it all. She doesn't understand why the other kids are sort of blase about the whole thing. I explained that many people don't deal with a whole lot of death in their lives, especially at such and early age. By the time she was 11 she lost 2 grandparents and 2 extremely close family friends in four completely different ways. One was sick, one natural, one an accident and one suicide. Bug has seen the many ways people cope with these losses and how even one person can mourn in different ways. There are no words to really describe Bug and how she deals with the world. I see a lot of me in her but then, she is her own person. She is so innocent and yet handles things with this ease of a worldly person. She has a friend that was raped by her step dad and cuts herself.... Bug does not judge, does not try and get her to stop but tries to get her to channel the pain in humor. Morbid comedy... something our family does well. She can crack jokes that should not come so easily from a child but yet make sense in the situation. Bug told me recently that a friend of hers didn't realize that her father and I were divorced... that she came from a "broken home". When she asked why he said that, he told her that he thought all kids of divorced parents were sullen and depressed. She laughed. Said that no, it hadn't been easy but it got better. And then I think she cracked some joke about extra presents at holidays and 2 homes.
I know I am not always going to get it right as a parent. I try my hardest but I am only human. But my kids are human too and I try and remember that every day. I try and look at each of my students and remember that. Every little face... little set of eyes hold a growing soul that while yes, they are just "kids" will one day become adults. Some sooner then others. Each one has a story and I am glad that my girls see that, too.