on our way back into the classroom from our fire drill on friday afternoon (really, friday afternoon fire drill? that is just evil) a little girl pulled me aside. we had about 10 minutes before the buses were going to be called and i didn't really have time to talk to her. we had book bags to get out, chairs to stack, letters to hand out, a floor to sweep.
"you know N." she said, "he just told me that his daddy hit his mommy so hard she had to go to the hospital and he had to go to jail" her big eyes said everything she wasn't saying as she whispered this to me.
i bent down so i'd be eye level with her.
"N's daddy is in jail because he hit his mommy so hard in the face that he had to go to jail and she had to go to the hospital. but, my daddy, he's never done that. because...." she pauses, to try to find an explanation that would make her understand why her daddy isn't in jail like her friend's. "because he's a nice daddy." she finally decided. "i think."
i hugged her and wondered what to say. i had been planning on rushing them to pack up their book bags, ordering them around like little soldiers. and here she was, gripping my hand, looking for answers. so i told her what a good friend she was to listen to that story from N. and that it was smart of her to tell a teacher about the story because i could tell she wanted to talk about it, but asked her not to tell any of the other kids. that's N's job. "what a good friend you are for listening" i said again, when i realized i didn't know what else to say to her. but probably, that's what N needed- someone to listen. the burdens our six year olds carry.