When he was younger, about two or three, his parents divorced and it was contentious. He and his brother live with dad and mom lives several hours away. They see her some, but it doesn't seem to be truly regular.
Yesterday he said he would be out today because they were going to his mom's. He was pretty whackadoodle all day, which I attributed to the upcoming visit. (The last time they were supposed to go, mom called and told them not to come. It's not clear to me why, as things are often not completely clear when one hears them from six-year-olds.) So I think my little friend was probably dealing with a lot of mixed emotions.
At dismissal my students were all ready on the carpet and I noticed this little darling was twisting up the bottom of his t-shirt. I guessed he was hiding something and asked him about it. He let go and said there was nothing. So I dismissed him and told him to have a wonderful long weekend. As he stood up he held on to his shirt again and I decided there had to be something there after all. I quietly asked him to come see me, around some furniture from the rest of the class.
When he let go of his shirt a glue stick fell out. Immediately he said, "I didn't know that was there. I wouldn't take that."*
I told him I was so sad he wasn't telling me the truth. His eyes immediately filled up with tears and he couldn't look at me. I tried to talk to him about how I wasn't upset about the glue stick, that I would happily give him a glue stick if he wanted one. I was only sad that he had lied to me.
As I stood there I thought about this little guy's history. I thought about how he probably has a lot of trouble believing in adults because so often they have let him down.
I sat down and pulled him on to my lap. I asked him if he had a project he wanted to do with the glue stick. It took a while of me asking, listening, and showing him that I wasn't upset. Eventually he told me that he wanted to make a birdhouse. I managed not to laugh as I pictured attempts to make a birdhouse with a glue stick and told him that he might need better tools. I promised him we would see what we could do to make a birdhouse. (It totally fits with our new science curriculum and I love to have my kids build but this is a new idea. We'll be doing something with it though. I made a promise.)
The bad/good news is that my little friend is here today. He said mom had to work and they're still going for the weekend. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
*I immediately thought of I Want My Hat Back. We'll have to read this soon.