Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Sleepover with a Difference!

My nine year old daughter often comes home excited about a planned sleepover at one friend’s house or another. She loves nothing better than to pack up a bag and spend the night sneaking snacks and playing cards under the covers.

This week she came home positively brimming with excitement. ‘Guess what Mum?’ she said, ‘I have been invited to have a sleepover with my teacher!’

Confused and Dithering!

So there I stood, totally confused with all sorts of thoughts and questions coming to mind. It turned out that a classmate of theirs spent the night at the teacher’s last week because no-one else could host her the night before a school trip that started early in the morning. The rest of the class got jealous and badgered the teacher to have a sleepover too. In the end she said three girls could stay over and my daughter was chosen as one of them as she had won the weekly class certificate for behavior and hard work.

There isn’t the smallest possibility of anything happening like this in the UK. I imagine that any school teacher making such a proposal would be promptly suspended and visited by social workers for thorough investigatation.

Our immediate thought was that it was totally inappropriate and to say no… but then we thought about it.

Yes or No...?

My daughter goes to a very small, close knit, religious, community school. Are we so tainted by modern social ills that we deny her the chance to enjoy feeling special and to have fun with a friend? Should we always assume the worst in people and deny individuals chances to carry out acts of kindness? Should we smear an innocent, well intended act with cynicism?

My daughter’s class teacher has two young kids of her own and lives fairly local to us. We live in the age of the mobile phone and can be in regular contact with her.

We have noticed that in Israel the teachers are much freer with the kids, particularly in smaller schools. In a previous school the teacher would stroke the kids’ faces and was always holding their hands and had a very close, motherly relationship with her class of young girls. It was particularly noticeable in contrast to the ‘no touching’ culture of UK schools.

Decision Made!

So anyway…. we let her go.

We worried the entire time that we were naïve, stupid, bad parents and more. I'd like to say we called her often to keep in touch and calm our nerves but our crazy 9 year old forgot to turn on her mobile! We felt jittery the whole time and to be honest, regretted our decision.

But... rest assured she had a great time! She loved her teacher’s young kids, she went to a show with her and her family and she came home having had a wonderful experience. We listened to her animatedly relating her stories and then breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Phew.

Did we do the right thing? Would you have done the same? Israel is a place criticized by the media as having a harsh, violent society with questionable standards. All I know is that family and community values are alive and well here in Israel whereas in the West the days of trust and innocence are well and truly over.


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Rachel said...

It was so interesting to read this post, i agree with everything you say. In the UK, we are so scared to even talk to children who are not our own and as a teaching assistant, i would never consider stroking the child's hair, or hugging him or her. I understand the need for caution, but in the UK things have gone so far to the extreme. I love to watch how much freer things are here.