Saturday, January 15, 2011

Complex Relationships

Relationships seemed to be the topic of discussion in my classroom today. Not the happily-ever-after relationships. But, the real-life complexities of relationships. How is it that these little minds, who have yet to experience any relationship of their own, are already well aware of and coming to terms with the complicated nature of adult relationships? 
The first conversation I overheard today…
Student 1: “Can you help me spell are? It sounds like the letter, but I don’t know how to spell it.” — [another complex observation today!]
Student 2: “I think it’s o-r. What are you writing?”
Student 1: “My parents are…”
Student 2: “Together?”
Student 1: “Yeah!”
The finished writing ended up saying (in kinder spelling): “My parents are together because they love each other.” What a sweet sentence. But, what really struck me was the conversation that continued about parents being together or not. I’m pretty sure that was not a concept I had grasped at their age. However, with how prevalent varying family situations are nowadays, understanding these types of relationships has become normal for my students. 
The second conversation I overheard today…
Student 3: “My dad moved back into our house.”
Student 4: “I thought they broke up!?”
Student 3: “They did, but they are always breaking up… getting back together… breaking up… getting back together.”
Student 4: “My aunt and uncle are like that. But they have a baby.”
When it comes to the complexities of adult relationships, these two girls understand more than their parents probably realize. Their everyday life is a string of listening to their family members talk — and more importantly — explain to them where their loved ones are and why they are not living together anymore. The reality of their lives is that the relationships around them are constantly changing. It truly amazes me how much my students not only absorb, but accept and understand. 
Take this as my PSA for the day… you may think that little ears are not listening - or that they’re simply too young to understand. But, believe me, they are listening, and they are learning. 
And, to lighten the mood, my favorite relationship conversation from one of my students (not from today, but too cute not to share…)
Me: “So, we’ll make two of these - one for your mom and stepdad’s house and one for your dad’s house. Does your daddy live alone?”
Student: “Yep.”
Me: “So, you don’t have a stepmom?”
Student: “Nope, but he’s looking for one!”

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