Meeting Philip* was a huge turning point for me. He was clearly concerned about my welfare, and we met on a weekly basis to discuss anything and everything that was giving me problems.
As many of you will no doubt understand, it makes an incredible difference to your own “view of life” if you are able to share the issues with someone who understands and cares. Philip understood my financial situation and paid for every coffee (and the odd beer) that we had during our meetings. He was a wonderful role model in that he gave me some of his most valuable possession (his time), and yet never asked for anything in return.
Life achieved a little more balance as we coped as best we could. Then we had a note from Simon’s school asking that we go in and talk with them as they were having issues with him! He was around 5 years old at that time!
A teacher explained that Simon was having difficulty with learning anything; did not pay attention, and was rather disruptive in class. They had tried reprimanding him but to no avail, and this had been going on for quite some time.
We were rather surprised because he had shown no signs of problems at home, and was quite well behaved in general. His speech could perhaps be improved, but that would come in due time. We eventually discovered that for all the frustrations apparently experienced by that teacher, and for all her efforts to bring him “into line” with her expectations, she had overlooked a very important factor. A hearing test determined that he was extremely bad on one side as a result of a collapsed tube in that ear.
As the doctor explained it to us, he would not have been able to hear clearly which would affect his learning ability. It would mean that he would lose interest very fast because he wouldn’t understand what was going on, which would explain any disruptive behavior. A tube was inserted which would force his own ear tube open, and the problems were resolved. The teacher was enlightened, but I do not recall any reaction on her part.
Throughout Simon’s school life he had an issue with authority, and I often wonder whether that incident gave him a poor perspective on schools and teachers in general. Do teachers of children in those early years realize just how much impact they have as they interact with them for so many hours a day? My conclusion is that in every profession, there are those who should seriously look for an alternative career, and teachers are no exception!
*See “Just a Man” – September 23, 2015