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Never Too Young To Be A Hypocrite

, , | Learning | June 26, 2017

(I am a relief teacher covering a year one (so about five- and six-year-olds) class for the day. Their regular teacher is Mrs. Teacher #1 and I am Miss My Name. Evidently they have just learnt the difference between Miss and Mrs. I have just written my name on the board and asked if anyone can read it out.)

Boy: “Miss [My Name]! You are Miss [My Name].”

Me: “Correct! Well done. Yes, class, I am Miss [My Name] and I will be your teacher for today.”

Girl: “Because you’re a ‘Miss’ you’re not married.”

Me: “That’s right; I’m not married.”

Boy #2: “Why aren’t you married?”

Me: “I think I’m too young to be married just yet.”

Boy #2: “How old are you Miss?”

Me: “I’m 23.”

Girl #2: “Mr [Teacher #2] is 24 and he’s married.”

Me: “That’s because everyone gets married at different times. I’m perfectly happy not being married. Being married is yuck.”

Girl #3: “But do you have a boyfriend? Because being married is yuck but my mummy loves her boyfriend.”

Me: “I do have a boyfriend, but we’re not married yet.”

Boy: “When you’re older will you marry him?”

Me: “I think so. Ok, kids, let’s start with the song Mrs. [Teacher #1] told me she’s taught you all.”

(The day proceeds pretty normally after that. It isn’t unusual for kids to want to know how old you are and if you have pets, are married, etc., even in high school. I normally just tell them a few basic details, like that conversation, which keeps them happy, and then change the subject. I didn’t think anything of it until the end of the day. Boy is being collected by his mother. He walks her over to me.)

Boy: “Mum, mum, this is Miss [My Name]. She’s a ‘Miss’ because she’s not married and Mrs. [Teacher #1] is a Mrs. because she is married but Miss [My Name] is 23 and she thinks that’s too young to be married and she helped me draw today and look at the cat I drew and I also wrote my name, see, look, mum—” *he probably would have continued if his mother hadn’t cut him off*

Mother: “Excuse me, did you tell my son 23 is too young to be married?”

Me: “They asked how old I was and why I wasn’t married if I had a boyfriend. I explained that I personally feel too young to be married. Don’t worry; I assured them it’s up to everyone when they get married.”

Mother: “Well, I was married at 20 and I feel like you were spreading hatred towards me!”

Me: “I’m sorry. I don’t know what age you were married, but I can assure you I told them that it was only my personal opinion and that everyone makes their decision. Notice that your son even said ‘she thinks.’ He knows it’s only my opinion.”

(At this point the boy is tugging on his mum’s arm trying to get his attention.)

Boy: “Mum, you need to look at the cat Miss [My Name] helped me draw!”

Mother: “Not now; mummy’s talking.” *to me* “He is six. He doesn’t understand what ‘think’ and opinion means.”

Me: “He’s very bright. I’m certain there will not be an issue later, and in likelihood he will have forgotten who I am in a week. Most children don’t remember relief teachers.”

Mother: “I still feel as though you have personally insulted me.”

Me: “I can assure you, I was stating my own opinion about my own situation, and made that clear to them. My own mother was married at 18, so I certainly don’t have an issue with younger marriage.”

Mother: “Well, 18 is far too young.” *to son* “We’re going; say goodbye.”

Boy: “Bye, Miss [My Name]!”

(And with that she dragged him out, almost leaving his cat picture behind before he managed to get it. She made a complaint to the school staff later, who sided with me, saying that young children always ask reliefs if they are married and how old they are, and that my answers were very common and fine. I was worried they would never call me back after that, as it was my first day at the school, but they called me frequently, and offered me a part-time position a few months later.)

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