One case happened in my Elementary Children class some weeks ago—a student lost his student book. It happened when three students went outside the classroom because I gave them some time for a short break after they finished doing their assignment earlier than the other students. Not long after that, the bell rang showing that the session was over. Two students—their initials are R and Iq—came back to the classroom, and asked me if they could leave. Iq said ok. The last student—his initial is L—entered the classroom after the two students left. When putting his books into his bag, he found out that his student book was missing. He came to me to ask me about that. I directly thought that probably one of his friends sitting next to him mistakenly took his book. I told L to be patient and tried to find it the following meeting.
The following meeting, Iq was absent while R attended the class. I asked R whether he mistakenly took L’s book. R convincingly shook his head and said that he knew nothing about that.
The following meeting, Iq was still absent. R was absent too.
The following meeting, Iq was present and I directly asked him whether he mistakenly took L’s book. He seemed restless with my question and responded, “Ms. Nana, I don’t know.” But then he tried convincing me that he didn’t bring L’s book. At that time, R was absent so that I couldn’t confront the two students. However, I asked Iq to check again in his house in case he didn’t realize it.
The following meeting, Iq said he didn’t find the book in his house. I felt uncomfortable because L’s mother asked me about that, and showed disappointment because her son’s book was missing. This is the first term L learns English in my workplace. However, I didn’t have a heart to force either R or Iq to admit that one of them had mistakenly took L’s book. Nevertheless, when comparing R and Iq’s facial expression when I asked them about the book, I could recognize the uneasiness at Iq’s face while R seemed ok, and not troubled at all.
Meanwhile, since I couldn’t find L’s book, his mother copied it from another student. It is an imported book and my workplace doesn’t let the parents buy a book from us. They will get the books—the student book and the workbook—for free when they register. However, they cannot buy it when their child’s books are missing.
A week ago, when checking the students’ assignment in their student books—on two different meetings—I recognized Iq submit two different books on those two different meetings. On the second meeting when finding Iq submitted a different book from the previous meeting, I again asked him about that. Uneasily, he said, “I don’t know about that. I have told you before that I don’t find the book at my house.” I didn’t really believe in him and said, “Tell your mother I want to see her in person.”
Yesterday, her mother came to me and asked what was going on. I told her about my curiosity that probably her son mistakenly took another student’s book. She said she did find two student books in Iq’s bag and she already told Iq to give one of the book to me or ask one of the classmate who has lost the book. I was surprised to hear that because in front of me, Iq didn’t admit that he brought L’s book while in fact his mother had asked him to give the book to me.
When talking about this case to a (female) workmate of mine, she commented that the mother seemed a good person and didn’t have any idea how she could have a son who had tried to be a cheater in a very young age. Another (male) workmate who heard our discussion said, “The mother works, doesn’t she? She must not have enough time to take care of the son by herself. It must be the maid who ‘teaches’ him to do such a thing.
Two things I hated from my male workmate’s remark:
v Directly or not, he accused a working mother will create a cheater because she is busy outside and doesn’t have enough time to pay attention to the kid.
v He easily misjudged the housemaid—who unfortunately usually happens to have very little education—as giving bad influence.
Why didn’t he try to relate the accident—the six-year-old boy who had tried being a cheater—to the father who must be also busy working outside? When there is something wrong like this, both of the parents must be responsible to “cure” it, and not only blame the mother. Whether he realized it or not, he—my judgmental male workmate—supported the status quo of patriarchal society about public and domestic spheres.
He burdened the housemaid—and perhaps all housemaids in general—as the responsible side to raise the kids of their employers well, not only watching them physically but also psychologically, and mentally. He forgot that in Indonesia the wage of the housemaid most of the time is very little. Are those housemaids angels? They must work (sometimes) more than twelve hours a day and get paid very little and get so much burden?
PT56 12.00 060207