Worry About The Quiet Ones

As with every year, there are always kids that are easy to read and those that are “question marks”.

It amazes me when kids are remarkably accepting of situations beyond their control. One of my students this year is a quiet unassuming kid. He struggles with some academics but works very hard. About a month ago, this student told me he would be moving to New York. That was a big disappointment because he is a pleasure to have in our class community; I joked with him that he couldn’t go and that I’d stand in front of the moving truck so he couldn’t leave us.  A few days later he quietly reported that his Dad told him he could stay, he wasn’t moving after all.

Now that should have perhaps set off some alarm bell, but it did not. Life moved on. At the beginning of last week, he was absent for several days in a row and I worried that he may have moved away after all. But he returned and very quietly, without much emotion, revealed that his Mom had moved out of the house. We talked about that and whether he wanted or needed to talk with a counselor. Being a quiet student, he shook his head no. We moved on, his demeanor didn’t change one bit despite an upheaval that had to be upsetting.

Today, during a school assembly in which our fourth graders, our “seniors”, presented their annual play, my quiet student was sitting behind me. A casual comment, that next year I’d be watching my third graders perform as fourth graders, brought an unusally revealing response: Mrs. Bisson, my parents won’t be here to watch me. My Dad works. My brother’s in jail. My Mom left us.

Here was this quiet stoic child looking at his future and knowing he wouldn’t experience it in the same way as most of  his peers. This four-sentence glimpse into his life, into what influences his being burned in my brain.

It is the quiet student that I worry about the most.

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