A week or so later, he told me at the end of a lesson that he could miss a lesson or two, as his dad was ill. He never missed one, so I told him to do whatever he felt necessary. One day he wasn't there. The day after I read in the paper that his dad had died. Three weeks after finding cancer he was no longer with us. Thursday two colleagues and myself took a dozen kids to the official condoling of the family. Friday his dad was cremated, it was so packed with people, we had to stand outside. 48 years old, father of two sons.
Today the boy was back at school. As before he was pleasant, smiled, did his work and basically there was no way to see from him what tragedy occurred last week. While in the class, I didn't want to talk about it either. I hope he'll manage.
In the meantime I'm left with a better view of some of the other students in my class. Two quotes from the day we found out about the death of his father. After deciding that we'd chip in for flowers with the whole class, one of the girls decided not to pay her 4 guilders (less than 2$) as "I'm not gonna pay something for a guy I have never known". Another was quoted as saying "I wouldn't want my whole class to show up and condole me when my father had died", while even after I had told the class she went to my direct superior and complained about the fact that the class hadn't been told.
I expect more from the average 17-18 year old. Even at this level.