A little boy at the age of 8 has been extremely naughty and restless since his first day in school. His classmates dislike him. He likes grinning to teachers, ear to ear, even when the teachers are angrily scolding him.
The teachers did try to find out the cause of his misbehaviours, and the only conclusion was ‘family problem’. The boy’s parents divorced one or two years ago, and he stayed with the father and the latter’s girlfriend, whom the boy calls mother. I would just call her his stepmother. This stepmother knows only one way of educating her new son: whacking.
The female form teacher tried to contact the father, but amusingly the stepmother controlled the communication channel out of jealousy. So the task of contacting his parents has been given to me, his male form teacher. Still, the stepmother did not allow me to get in contact with the father. Reasons unknown.
According to my colleagues, his father did come to school once last year. In my colleagues’ description, his father has tattoos all over his body and is not properly educated. I have seen his stepmother twice. She has heavy makeup, which does not beautify her but emphasises her ugliness, and a constantly stern face, as if the whole world is owing her some billions of dollars. A perfect match, I should say.
This boy, being mischievous and lying all the time, cannot possibly earn teachers’ trust. And he seems to be content with this image and even tries to get worse.
So this boy stole money from two of his classmates yesterday, before and during their recess. The victims and witnesses complained to me. Being questioned for some hours, and giving a couple of incoherent, self-contradicting accounts of what happened, he finally admitted to me and the discipline team that he did it.
We called the stepmother and asked her to come to school for further discussion. Then the stepmother told us a lengthy story of this family.
Some days ago, when the boy went home after playing downstairs, he saw the father bring home a lady. The father chased him out of the house, asking him to continue playing downstairs. So he did. Then the stepmother came home. The boy told her what happened. The stepmother understandably got furious, and the couple had a fight. Enraged, the stepmother went to stay in her friend’s house. The father was so furious with the boy that he did not only whack him but also locked him out of the house. It was around 8 at night, and the boy slept on the staircase till 2am. The same thing repeated once or twice.
When asked why the boy stole money and misbehaved, the Grade 2 kid answered that it was because he was too angry with the father. Anger with the father and stealing classmates’ money are apparently unlinked. But they might be linked if the kid was doing these to vent his anger. A Grade 2 kid does not know how to mange anger after all.
However we are not 100% sure that the stepmother’s and the boy’s story is true. It was from a parent who kept her two sons in boys’ home before she got married to this boy’s father. It was from a stepmother who abused this boy frequently. It was from a boy who kept misbehaving and lying. It was from a boy who cried with two fountains in his eyes when telling this story in the office and then grinned to me, ear to ear, 15 minutes later.
All these problems are family matters, and yet they become the school matters and the teachers’ problems.
The boy is now undergoing counselling, and I really doubt the effectiveness.