Behind the scenes of loving father's viral reaction to son's passing math score

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24 2013 2:00 p.m. MDT

Farnoosh and Aria Shahrokhshahi of Nottingham, England. The video of Farnoosh's emotionally positive reaction to his son's passing math score has gone viral on YouTube.

Abby Stevens

For Aria Shahrokhshahi of Nottingham, England, receiving the necessary C to pass his math course was a cause for celebration — but it was even more significant because of what it meant to his father, Farnoosh.

“In England you need a C to basically ... do anything, to go to college, to get a job, anything,” Aria said in an interview with the Deseret News. “I wanted to do it for myself and my dad so I could prove something to both of us.”

But obtaining a passing score proved difficult for Aria, who said he struggled academically and had failed two previous trial tests.

“I was struggling a lot in the last two weeks (before the test), and I was still not at a C grade, so me and my dad sat down every night, and we did all of the past tests over and over again,” Aria said. “So we did work a lot together, (and) he did help me a lot.”

After taking the test, Aria was worried he would not receive a passing grade. But he was surprised when his teacher told him he had passed.

“I was like, ‘I’ve got to tell my dad.’ I was going to ring him, but I thought, 'I’ll show him at home,' ” Aria said. "So I got home, (and) I rang him and told him I was in trouble, something’s happened at school. ... He rushed home from work. I knew he’d react very emotionally, and I wanted to save (telling him) as a special one.”

In the video Aria recorded of his father’s reaction to seeing his passing score, Farnoosh joyously exclaimed, “Is that real? Is that real?” as he hugged his son.

“Aria did his best, and that was a crucial fact for me,” said Farnoosh, who has been a physics teacher for the past 26 years. “Aria struggled with his academic work all his life, but he settled down from September to January last year ... I only helped him for a couple of weeks, but he had to do all the work himself. His teachers were just brilliant. They helped him all the way through, and they were just fantastic. The bare minimum you need for most jobs is a C, and it’s like the threshold for many many jobs, so he did extremely well.”

Aria did not post the video on YouTube for seven months because he initially wanted to keep it private, but he later decided he wanted to “share it with the world.” Both he and his father did not anticipate the video’s immediate popularity or predict its positive reception.

“It just clearly demonstrates that the vast majority of the people in this world are lovely,” Farnoosh said. “They appreciate love, and Aria’s shown love toward me and I’ve shown love toward him, so it’s just wonderful.”

For Aria and Farnoosh, family plays a supportive role that can prove valuable during difficulties.

“There’s a really good quote someone told me: ‘Family and friends are just like walls. Sometimes you need to lean on them, and sometimes you just need to know they’re there,’” Aria said. “And my dad is my hero. ... He’s always stood by my side.”

The father and son were featured on the "TODAY Show," and they received supportive comments from viewers.

“I wish every parent could show the pride he felt,” said Laura Thornton, a commenter on the show's Facebook page. “An improvement like that is more valuable than any straight A any day!”

Since passing his test, Aria is attending college and studying culinary arts, and he hopes to join in the Royal Air Force in the future.

Abby Stevens is a writer for the deseretnews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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