The child's father was very nice, as was the grandfather. I don't know where this child came from because she was anything but nice when we met her. She'd always have a look of disgust on her face as if she had experienced the burden of having a life-time of misery at the age of four. She was simply stubborn and refused to do anything we'd ask.
When I found out she had a brother, I was curious to know what he was like. Did he share the same agony his sister possessed? She had never mentioned anything about her brother. She was also never picked up by her mother either. I asked around about her situation, only to find out that her parents had issues. The mother, out of spite, took the son and ran off without telling her husband. In the Chinese culture, having a son meant everything. Couples who had daughters would keep trying until they finally had a son. Some were fortunate to get one, others weren't and kept trying until they physically couldn't. Even my own mother came from a family of five older daughters and two youngest son.
When I learned of this, I sympathized for the girl. She had been abandoned by her mother. I tried to approach her in a more nurturing way, but she wasn't having any of it. No matter who it was, male or female, she had a certain distrust of adults. During the course of the school year, the father would approach the office about the whereabouts of his son. Having no info about the subject, he'd walk away empty handed. During our Family Tree project, where parents were asked to send in pictures of the child's family to share, dad would send in family group pictures which included his wife and son, as well as individual photos. All of the other students shared the photos and introduced the class to the members of their family. She refused to participate. The pictures would go out on a bulletin board tree where each family would get their own section. Every morning, before dad dropped her off, I'd see him staring at his family.
As the school year progressed, she began to opened up more and more. She participated during class discussions, began doing work, became more friendly with the other students, and I even saw her laugh and smile. We began doing tree maps about the people in our lives who we care about. The categories were parents, grandparents, pets, friends, siblings, and extended family. When students had time, they'd take a break from their choice centers and joined the writing center to complete this assignment. When it was her time to tackle the tree map, she surprisingly came over without a battle. She began drawing her map. She included dad, grandpa, brother, aunt, and drew a female figure under parents. I asked who it was and she responded "mommy."
She kept drawing and adding more details. I sat there, silent, trying to think of what to say in the situation. She was happy. I didn't say anything. I didn't need to. I only hoped that in the end, it would all work out for her.