A preschool teacher becomes suspicious when a five-year-old girl yells at her and tells her she doesn’t want to go home. She decides to investigate and one day follows the girl’s car to her house, where she stumbles upon something shocking.
As Mrs. Elliot left the class, she smiled at the small children who came giggling from the classroom. They were excited to go home and most were picked up by their parents. The first to leave the class was little Winnie. The five-year-old kindergarten teacher struggled to carry her picture books. Mrs. Elliot ran to her aid.
“Hey…careful. Would you like me to carry them for you?” she asked Winnie.
The girl giggled. “No, it’s fine, Mrs. Elliot. My dad has to wait at the gate. It’s not far from here. I can wear them!”
Mrs. Elliot sighed. “Okay, go ahead then. Have a nice day, Winnie!” From the corridor she saw Winnie running to her papa, Mr. Tyler, who was standing by his car. This was something Mrs. Elliot was used to seeing every day after school.
However, one day she noticed that Winnie was acting strangely. After the last bell rang, she didn’t run after her friends to be the first to get out of class. When the Headmistress asked Ms. Elliot to make the rounds of campus after her last class, she noticed that her classroom door was still open when it would normally have been closed…
The classrooms were always closed after school, so it struck her as odd when Ms. Elliot heard a rattling noise from inside. Peering inside to find out what was making the noise, she was stunned.
“Winnie? What are you still doing here? I thought you were long gone.”
Mrs. Elliot noticed a strange fear in the little girl’s eyes. Winnie couldn’t answer her right away and pretended to be busy coloring.
“Remember, your child will learn from your example and will be influenced by your actions. Please don’t let Winnie bear the burden of your mistakes.”
“Come along. I’ll take you to your dad. He’ll have to wait for you outside.” But to Ms. Elliot’s shock, Winnie pulled away, clinging to her chair and refusing to leave the classroom.
“Winnie, what’s the matter? Get up and come with me,” Mrs. Elliot suggested, and the girl began to cry.
“I’m afraid to go home,” she said.
“Winnie, you can’t stay here. It’s already late. Come along.” Mrs Elliot picked up the girl and carried her outside to where her father was waiting for her near the car with a worried face.
“Good gracious! Thank you Mrs Elliot. I was just about to come in and check. Why did she take so long today?” Mr. Tyler sounded concerned.
“Hello Mr. Tyler. I found Winnie in the classroom. No need to worry. I knew you would be waiting for her here.”
Winnie went straight to the car and sat in the back seat like a good girl and refused to listen to their conversation. She cried softly and looked out the window. Observing Winnie’s strange behavior, Ms Elliot couldn’t help but feel concerned, but didn’t want to say anything or ask.
Mr. Tyler drove away with his daughter and Mrs. Elliot left without shaking her misgivings. Maybe Winnie was just having a bad day. But she was wrong.
The next afternoon, at the end of her class, Ms. Elliot stayed behind to make sure all of her students left the classroom. But like the day before, Winnie remained seated and did not rush to meet her father.
“Mrs. Elliot, I don’t want to go home,” the girl begged when her teacher approached her and asked why she stayed behind. But Mrs Elliot insisted and led her outside where she saw Mrs Tyler waiting to pick up Winnie.
“Hey sweety! Look what mom has for you. A new doll!” Mrs. Tyler greeted Winnie and handed her the toy. But the girl was not happy. She vaguely thanked her mother and got in the car, tears filling her eyes.
“Thank you Mrs Elliot! Have a nice day!” said Ms. Tyler to Ms. Elliot, driving past the main gate leaving a confused Ms. Elliot behind. She suspected something was wrong and decided to find out more. She quickly flagged down a cab and directed the driver to follow Ms. Tyler’s car.
They arrived at a posh house that matched Winnie’s description of home. The gate was already open and Mrs. Elliot found Winnie’s car outside. She walked to the front door and just as she was about to ring the bell, she heard the angry voices of Mr. and Mrs. Tyler.
“It’s all your fault! I don’t want to talk to you or see your stupid face! Why don’t you get out of my life?” exclaimed Mr. Tyler.
Ms Tyler replied: “How dare you call me stupid? It’s YOU that’s stupid and your whole family is crazy!”
Mrs Elliot looked in and saw Winnie sitting on the couch with her hands over her ears. She was appalled by her parents’ heated argument.
“So that’s why you’re refusing to go home?” Mrs. Elliot mused and immediately rang the doorbell. Mr. and Mrs. Tyler were silenced and Mrs. Tyler rushed to the door to see who it was.
“Mrs. Elliot?!?” They were frightened. “What are you doing here?”
The teacher greeted them and took Winnie’s mother aside for a private chat.
“Mrs. Tyler, I came because I was concerned about how odd Winnie has been acting in class lately. After seeing what is happening here, I am concerned that your daughter may be affected. She always tells me that she doesn’t want this to go home. Can you please tell me what’s going on?” Mrs. Elliot began.
Ms Tyler revealed how she and her husband had dealt with family issues. “…And he never understands what I’m trying to say. He sides with his mother and my sister-in-law.”
“Ms. Tyler, every family has problems. But as parents, we should be mature enough to work out our differences privately. Arguing or bickering in front of our children affects them more than you know. Aside from scaring them, we make it difficult for them to live under a roof full of arguments and hurtful insults. Remember, your child will learn from your example and will be influenced by your actions. Please don’t let Winnie bear the burden of your mistakes. Mrs. Tyler, please do what is best for your daughter.”
Eventually, Mr. and Mrs. Tyler realized their mistake and decided to separate without divorcing just yet. While Mr. Tyler moved into his mother’s house, his wife stayed at her house.
This arrangement didn’t sit well with Winnie, who often had to commute between her mother’s and father’s homes. She stayed with her father for the first three days of the week and spent the remaining days with her mother. It took a negative toll on her. So she decided to improve things herself.
“Dad, I miss you. Why do you have to live away from us?” she asked her father on the phone one day. “You know mom can’t cook alone without you. She needs your help with everything, dad. Please come home. I miss you and I love you both.”
And Winnie told her mother the same thing. “Mom, I miss dad. When is he coming back to us? I can’t live without dad. How can you? Don’t you miss him like I do?”
At that moment, Winnie’s mother realized that she could not live without her husband. She regretted her hasty decision, which almost ruined her daughter’s happiness.
But just as Mrs. Tyler was reaching for her car keys to pick up her husband, she saw him standing in front of the door with his suitcase. She burst into tears and ran to him to apologize.
“I’m sorry, darling! We need you!” In tears she threw herself into her husband’s arms.
“I’m sorry too, honey. I can’t live without you and our daughter. I love you both!”
Winnie was the happiest that day. She hugged her parents and shed tears of joy.
The next day, after the last school bell, Winnie was the first to run out to meet her parents. They waved to Mrs Elliot, who smiled at them, before driving off with their girl.
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t let your domestic problems drive a wedge between you and your children. Mr. and Mrs. Tyler were constantly fighting at home, not realizing how it would affect their young daughter.
Children learn from their parents, so lead them by example. Upon seeing Winnie’s parents arguing at their home, Ms Elliot warned them of how it could affect their daughter in the long run. She advised them not to let Winnie bear the burden of their mistakes.
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