24 May 2021 (2 days to Vesak Day)
One day the subject of half-siblings and step-siblings came up towards the end of English lesson.
As I wrote down the words’ definitions and the circumstances that gave rise to them on the white board, some students looked really interested.
Even when the bell had sounded for the 14-year-olds to leave my class, a handful took their time to pack their bags and lingered on.
“Teacher, I have a half-sister,”
“I have step brothers,”
“My father remarried,”
“My mom don’t allow me to see my dad,” and so on came tumbling out of the kids’ mouths as they gathered at my desk in the morning hush.
I was momentarily stunned. For right there in the safety of my homeroom, it felt like some dead weights were being lifted off young shoulders as each kid revealed what they were not supposed to talk about in public.
One boy whose mom left their family when he was in primary school looked almost teary when I taught him the words to say without having to lie about his mom’s absence at school functions. I could tell lying was destroying his young soul.
Words create realities.
I think the kids that day left the room with new words and new found camaraderie to face the new normal brought about by changes in family dynamics.
We do children a great disservice when we project our adult disappointments with life on them, and by denying them a voice we trap them further in our web of lies.
May we have the courage to face our truth so that others can live freely.