Twice I have written about them; just two young boys. Their stories can be found in the non-fiction section of my web-site, under the titles, Harry’s Story and A Year With Billy. While Harry’s Story is a sad one, with happy parts, A Year With Billy presents a funny ending in which the laugh is on me.
There are many other tales I could tell of children who came into my life for a year and, in some cases, for more than a year. One year I had a boisterous young eight-year-old girl in my Grade 3 class who was always full of energy and joie de vivre. Her mother confided in me one day that Melinda was adopted. ‘Her real father is a football player’, said the mother, ‘I hope he plays for St Kilda.’ To have been a St Kilda player would have pleased the mother no end, but she was unable to find out for which team Melinda’s biological father played. Despite that, she still believed that he was one of the star players – and for St Kilda. It helped her to love Melinda more.
Another eight-year-old I remember well was Karl. He was a bright but naughty boy, often in trouble out in the playground and often the instigator of fights. His parents were both in professional occupations and his mother was away a lot attending or giving lectures. His father, on the other hand, was the main child carer, but did a lot of his ‘caring’ from his seat in the local pub, where the children often ate their evening meal.
After one particular fracas in the playground, where young Karl had come off second best, I was trying to comfort him and attempt to encourage him to find a more acceptable way of dealing with playground disputes. Karl was having a quiet cry and, in a move quite uncharacteristic of him, he leant against me and almost snuggled into my shoulder. ‘Mmm,’ he said, ‘you smell like my mum’.
The next time I saw Karl’s mother I told her what Karl had said and asked her what perfume she preferred, to see if it matched the one I usually wore. ‘I have no idea,’ was her uninterested reply, ‘I have so many different perfumes, Karl wouldn’t know my smell.’
All I could do was sigh.