What Happened to His Father?

Cadel's First Orientation Day
Our son’s first orientation day photo

Today was the second day that our eldest son attended orientation for kindergarten. My wife took him to preschool this morning, picked him up at 11am and then took him to his big school so he could do whatever it is they do in the classrooms in preparation for the start of his schooling life next January.

When my wife got home after dropping him back at preschool she came into my office and told me a story that she subsequently added to her Facebook page. This is what she wrote;

“My heart broke a little bit today. At big school a little boy came into the office and said he didn’t have a lunch order in his bag. The teacher asked him what he had for recess and he said tiny teddies but he didn’t like them so the teacher told him to tell his Mum he doesn’t like them to which he replied ‘I don’t have a Mum'”

Further to what she wrote on her status update she told me the next part of the story. The person in the office responded to the child;

“Then you need to tell your carer that you don’t like them…”

Say what? Your carer? If you don’t have a mother then you must only have a carer. Hmmmm. What about his dad? What happened to his father?

Okay, I will admit that before I became a parent myself and when I was doing my traineeship in retail management I might have gone up to a “little lost boy” in our store and asked where his mother was. That was well over 20 years ago I would have asked that. And that was well before I knew anyone with young kids other than my friends families but I wouldn’t have given it a second thought to think about family and parenting and such.

But now, now that I am a father myself, and maybe even well before that when I was older and more mature than my late teen years, I have definitely been conscious of including both mothers and fathers (or parents as I like to call them collectively) when addressing a child about their “guardian.”

But this person works within the school system. Surely there is training to suggest to such workers that kids could come from single parent families where the parent could be either the mother OR the father.

I feel like complaining about this. It got me pretty angry when my wife told me this.

Come on, fathers are parents too…

So do you think it would be unreasonable for me to make a complaint about this? Am I overstepping my boundaries? Or is it just a case of me making a mountain out of a molehill and I should build a bridge and get over it?

8 thoughts on “What Happened to His Father?

  1. I was actually stunned first that someone who works at his school would be oblivious to the fact that he doesn’t have a mother. I hope she was a temp.

  2. Oh this is just heart breaking!! Poor little man. We have 2 little boys at our school that Mum committed suicide and their dad is very proactive at the school and every time there is something on someone always asks where is Mummy, they turn and say with the saddest eyes I have ever seen My mummy is up there watching over me from heaven.
    Seriously do they need to be asked where she is or where daddy is…. Heck I know my husband can’t attend everything!!
    I was at circle time (where our kids line up) one morning and one of the boys was crying because he missed his mummy and the teacher said oh mummy will pick you up later…seriously if myself as a parent knows their story surely the teachers do.!!!

    Do the teachers/office staff not care enough to know the kids stories (yes I get there is a LOT of children) but surely you be a little more alert to what is going on around you!

    As for saying carer….what the?? stupid cow I say HEARTLESS stupid cow

  3. I agree with the above comments, to an extent, and I absolutely HATE the term “carer” (though I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it before…), but would like to offer a possible defense for the administrator.

    Having just metaphorically stuck his foot in it over the mother comment, he may have defaulted to “carer” because he didn’t want to do the same thing with “father,” if the kid happened to have neither. I’m not sure what the demographics are like where you live, but I’ve worked in some of the inner-city schools in my city, and many of the kids are being raised by an aunt, or grandma.(very occasionally grandpa too, but often not).

    Just a thought…

    1. Thanks for your comment. You might be right. It is hard to be accurate with demographics, but we are not in an area where it is likely that the child would be without both parents, but then again, I do know a woman who has foster kids (albeit babies only whose mothers need to get clean before having the child back) and if it went beyond the first few years, I’m sure that if they are placed in further foster homes then technically they could have no mother or father.

      I think if you’re going make the assumption the child has a mother (and statistically speaking, most kids do) and in the absence of the mother, wouldn’t the next obvious person the child could be living with be the father?

      With a few “celebrity” or female partner of deaths from breast cancer (one of which is a famous national breast cancer awareness foundation) and the father raising both children sans his wife and mother of his children, that alone would put the thoughts of motherless child might have a father still in my mind, at the very least.

  4. Thanks for sharing this story. It seems to suggest a lack of sensitivity to the differing sorts of family structures that exist and a tendency to fall back on gender stereotypes.

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