When I say that my children don’t tell me anything that goes on at school, what I really mean is that they don’t tell me anything that the teachers think I should know. Just occasionally I’m regaled with something so exciting that they’re barely through the front door before the talk starts, words tripping over each other just like in Primary SChool days.
Last week was the start of Ramadan. GP2 came home marvelling that his Muslim friend had got up to eat breakfast at 4.30am and that he wouldn’t be able to eat or drink anything until 8.30 in the evening. And he had had PE in the morning followed by basketball and then rugby after school. And he was a bit late back after lunch because he had gone home to pray. The teacher was about to hand out his 37th (yes, he’d already given out 36 – is this a record, we wondered?) D7 of the day for this crime of lateness but figured the excuse was good enough. Phew!
It set me wondering how children manage to cope with school and everything else that they do if they can’t even drink water between dawn and dusk. Presumably the body adapts to the fasting regime after a few days but even so, it must affect concentration for spells during the day. And before anyone accuses me of disrespect, let me assure you that I am full of respect and admiration for those whose religious beliefs are strong enough to enable them to see through something like the Ramadan fast. It must be particularly difficult when they are such a minority. But back to my point. How on earth do the children manage to fast all day and function and behave on the same level as their classmates?
One of my sisters runs a unit for persistent non-attenders, trying to get them back into class on a regular basis. She has many tales of children who simply aren’t fed properly at home and she keeps a toaster and supplies in the classroom so that the kids can eat when they get in to school. I know this is different – chronic malnourishment whereas presumably children fasting during Ramadan are generally well looked after and well fed, and they’ll be eating plenty even if it is at odd times of the day. (4.30am is truly odd in my book.) But still, I’m sure we all know how hard it is to concentrate and not be irritable with all and sundry when we’re hungry and badly hydrated. For irritable in an adult read horrible behaviour in a child and tantrum in a toddler.
I was brought up as a Catholic and in those long ago days we weren’t allowed to eat or drink for three hours before communion. This meant going to Mass without breakfast and a regular feature of my Sunday mornings was the clunk as I blacked out and keeled over in the pew. I couldn’t manage 3 hours without food and drink let alone a whole day; perhaps we should have got up at 4.30am for breakfast.
I warned you this post would be a ramble.