The class fell silent.
“Roman, what did you say you want to be?” Mrs. Yaani asked calmly to confirm what she just heard.
“A stripper… like mummy!” he uttered with unadultered pride. The teacher was left astonished.
“What do you think a stripper does?” The teacher inquired further.
“Well, I don’t know? But I get to stay up late at night and do whatever I want.” Roman responded very innocently.
Mrs. Yaani didn’t know what to say or whether to explain to 7 year olds what a stripper is, or how to overcome the moral dilemma of the situation and not make Roman feel like Satan’s son. Mrs. Yaani thanked the children and asked them to take the paper and colouring pencils and draw what they think their future will look like in line with their career of choice. She took a break and stepped outside as the children went to work. She was flushed and her heart was palpitating. She was confused.
“Mrs. Yaani. I hope I didn’t say anything wrong.” Roman had followed her outside.
“No Roman…go back inside and have fun ok? Draw whatever comes to mind.”
After 30 minutes the children chorused, “I am done!”
Mrs. Yaani entered the class and asked the children to drop their drawings on her table as they stepped out for recess. “Make sure you have your beautiful names written on it ok?”
“Yes, Mrs. Yaani” the children chorused as they sped by her table dashing outside to play. Well everyone except for Roman.
“Roman?” Mrs. Yaani called out gently. “Go outside and play sweetheart.”
“I don’t want to go.” He uttered fighting back tears.
“Why? Roman? Is something wrong? You know you can tell me?”
“It’s my mum. She always told me not to lie.”
“That’s right Roman, she taught you well.”
“But when I tell people what she does they behave funny and that is why she says that at times I should lie about what she does. I thought that if I told you, you wouldn’t behave different like the others.”
“Roman, I am sorry I hurt your feelings. You know you can always be honest with me. It’s just that what your mum does….well some people find it different.”
“Well it is not a job that many people would talk about.”
“Well Roman, some jobs that we do as adults aren’t always right.”
“Why?” Roman began to cry.
“Come here Roman, this is a long explanation that we will have in a few more days ok?”
Roman nodded tears soaking Mrs. Yaani’s blouse.