ByÂ Archana Rao:
Do kids’ actions and words sometimes mean more than just child’s play?
For the past few days there has been a child in my class who has been pestering me to come to his house. Exactly like clockwork just as I would leave the class for the day or as I would bid good bye to every child as I leave or I would get into the car getting ready to drive off I would find him in front of me out of nowhere and he would ask me to come to his house. Every single day I would tell him that I would come to his house very soon. I used to easily give him my word in order to just get home and hit the bed after a long day at school. But I still haven’t gone to his place.
One day he stopped asking me to come home. I asked him if I could come to his house today. And he said that he didn’t want me to come to his house anymore. Intrigued but nonplussed I dismissed the whole sequence of events as a silly dialogue between him and me. I went about the never ending work at school and made a list of all the things I needed to do before the weekend and such. The very next day during break as I walked back to my class I saw the same boy holding his head and bawling in the corridor outside and I quickly realized that he was hurt by the door which was being swung back and forth by some kids who were playing. His head had a big split of flesh and blood oozing out like a fountain. I was flabbergasted! I didn’t know what to do. We quickly took him to the hospital and were told that it was a minor cut and that he would require stitches. Once the procedure was completed, we got him back to school.
We informed his parents about it and the next day they arrived at school. They made a huge hue and cry of the situation and asked us as to how we let it happen. We assured him that kids sometimes get hurt while playing and that we would ensure now on that one of us be on the lookout while kids are playing. As I spoke to both the parents I heard complaints about the kid; neither does he show them any homework nor does he talk to them anymore.
When I asked the child about this he hesitated in the beginning to even open his mouth. But when I coaxed him to speak he said that his parents were always fighting with each other and they often scream very loudly which scares him and he doesn’t want to live there anymore. On asking the parents if this was true, both of them after a while admitted that they were having some issues and that it should not really affect the child as it is none of his business. I was shocked to hear this! I soon realized that the parents had no clue that their actions were slowly making the child build a cocoon around him and that he was in no way going to be the same playful child ever again. It also struck me that this is why he was calling me home for so many days! He wanted me to come and see how the environment in his home was and maybe help him if I could. If only I had listened deeply for his silent cry for help.
I kept thinking about how kids look up to their teacher for every single thing; Inspiration, motivation, love, appreciation, comfort and consolation. I realized that kids’ actions mean more than just mere acts and their words sometimes carry deeper meaning which if decoded could equip us with lots of strength and reason to help them live a beautiful and carefree childhood. I visited his house yesterday and spent a wonderful time playing Pictionary with him!
Archana Rao is a Teach For India Fellow in a Pune Akanksha school. Having finished her Electronics engineering, she worked as a Project Management Consultant with HSBC. She joined the Fellowship because she did not just want to talk about change in education systems but to immerse headlong into the system to be a change maker!