This semester I have been teaching a “Health” class to kids ages 6-18. I said “health” because it’s a bit broader than just talking about physical health. The program is called PSHE, which stands for Physical, Social, Health Education. It encompasses basically four main topics: Physical health, Mental health, Financial health, and Social health.
So far, most of my classes have been working on the Social health units. This has included everything from “Right vs Wrong” to Terrorism. In the 7th grade we recently started talking about divorce and how that affects families and children. Divorce in Georgia is still fairly stigmatized. Divorced women are often considered “damaged goods” and children of divorced parents would never support their parents getting remarried. Even the student(s) I know from divorced families balked at the idea of their parents dating or remarrying.
When my dad got remarried I told my host family that I was happy for him and that, yes, I like my step-mom just fine, thank you. They were shocked. My host brother said, “I would kill any man who tried to marry my mom.” My host moms were a bit more open-minded, but still bemused by the whole event.
In talking about divorced homes and the impact on the children, I thought it relevant to share a little with the class about my own experience. The textbook talked about how children divided their time between their parents based on parental agreement or court order, as the case may be.
“In my family,” I told them, “We spent 50% of our time with my mom and 50% with my dad. They lived close together.” Everyone seemed pretty on board with the concept so far. “But we had a dog that everyone loved very much and there was a question about where would the dog live.” Now they were a bit confused.
“The dog??” asked one girl, a bit surprised.
“Who cares?” said another boy.
I told them that the solution was a no-brainer for my siblings and me. “The dog will go wherever we go!” we had suggested to my parents back in the day. And sure enough, Tilly embarked on weekly journeys back and forth from house to house, pun intended.
“The dog traveled too,” I explained, “One week at mom’s house, one week at dad’s house.”
A voice interjected from the back of the class, “What a stupid family!”
Several students’ eyes widened in shock as everyone turned to the boy who had commented. “Oh?” I asked, casually, “It’s a stupid family?”
“Yes!” the boy insisted.
“It’s my family, you know.” The boy paled and looked around in a panic. As it turned out, he hadn’t been paying attention and misunderstood what I was telling him. He thought there were lots of dogs and we just split them between my mom and dad, making us a stupid family. He backpedaled hard when his classmates explained the situation to him.
Just goes to show, it pays to pay attention in class! You never know when you might accidentally insult the teacher’s family!
And regardless, I love my stupid family.