And my heart breaks again

Being a parent seems to be a lifelong lesson from your children about the best and worst of yourself. Being a teacher, as best as I can tell, seems to guarantee an education from your students.

You also get an awareness of their stories, their truths and their unique world views. I recently posted about a gentle boy I know who has already seen way too much hurt. Last time I saw him he was worried that I’d be angry with him because he hadn’t done something I asked. I’d been trying to motivate him and ended up making him apprehensive. It wasn’t what I intended and so a new strategy is needed.

Now, after another week working with various students at a couple of venues, another story pulses like a siren in my mind. Another boy, of similar age but a radically different background. Literacy lessons. When you try to help kids learn to read, you tend to notice patterns. Mispronunciations. Reversal of particular consonants. Sounds that don’t seem to be heard the way that we need if we’re to decode words efficiently.

This particular pattern took me a while to decipher. There were two words he couldn’t seem to read. Then I understood. It wasn’t couldn’t. It was wouldn’t. They were words he doesn’t intend to say out loud. Ever.

‘Dad’ and ‘father’.


3 thoughts on “And my heart breaks again”

  1. It makes me wonder at the power of the mind to obey our unspoken but most heart-wrung commands, the instinctive recoil from eviscerating events, dumbing and damming our voice — and at what point in our existence it occurs. In my early childhood to almost my late teens, from as far back as I could remember, I would not, could not bring myself to pronounce the words ‘sad’ and ‘pray’. The resistance emerged from a bleak and alien void that my whole being wanted nothing to do with. I could speculate on its origin as genetic or uterine or pre-articulate memory, but it will always be a mystery to me.

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