Saturday, April 26, 2008


I was in the middle of a huge post concerning a psychopath I've encountered on eBay when someone knocked on my door. I rolled my eyes and thought, I'm NOT interested!

It was one of my students, who had made her way out of alternative school before I left to be home with Tucker. She had bad news: She was going back to alternative. I gave her a sufficient I Love You the Way You Are but I REFUSE to Let You Stay That Way lecture. And I looked her straight in the eye and said, "You can be anything you want. You can do anything you want. You are beautiful and capable and intelligent. You can make a difference in the world." It broke my heart when the look on her face told me that no one had ever taken the time to tell her that (I can still remember the time my father sat me down and said, "You can be whatever you want when you grow up. Don't let anyone ever tell you any differently.")

But that wasn't the worst news. Two of my other students were recently incarcerated. One for possession (2-4 ounces) and one for theft ($1,500-20,000). The wheels in my head started turning. How could this happen? Both of those students were so lovable and funny and intelligent. But no one ever took the time to tell them that as children. By the time I told them that, it seems as if it was too late.

When I was teaching, I spent hours on end with both of these gentlemen in the hallway, telling them that they were worth something, and regardless of the fact that they were making bad choices, I would still always be there for them. I knew that one of them was selling drugs, and I always told him, "I hope you get your crap together before you get caught." Not so coincidentally, he was the one arrested for possession. And in case you're not familiar with how much 2-4 ounces of weed is, it's enough to stash away in case of a nuclear war; it's a bit much for personal consumption (I learned that from my neighbor, who is the biggest pothead I've ever met - I mean, she smokes weed every day, all day. And she told me that 2-4 ounces would last her about three months).

I found out late last night, after arranging for a baby sitter and canceling my plans with ABW, that I would not be able to visit them in jail today. So I wrote them letters requesting that they add me to their approved visitor list. Hopefully, I will get to go see them next weekend.

Someone has failed these children. And now, since they're 18, everyone is going to look at them as felons or criminals. Not many people are going to see them the way I do: Scared little boys who are desperately trying to be men. And their only role models are not the men who parented them, but the rappers who glorify street life, selling drugs, and objectifying women.

Someone has got to rescue these kids. And if I have to buy a camper van and follow them around to make sure they're making the right choices, that's what I'm going to do. I'll be damned to be one more adult in their lives that just turns the other way and thinks, What a shame.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought about school counseling as a career? Your description is precisely the reason I wanted to become a counselor....Just a thought


Guard Wife said...

Since starting (and now almost finishing) law school and as a parent and former educator, I have seen this from almost all the angles there are.

I'm never more disgusted than I am when I see what happens when no one takes the time to do their job...SOMEONE knew these kids before we see them and dammit they needed to be doing their jobs. Unfortunately, most of those folks weren't in the right mindset to do their jobs as parents/relatives/etc. and this is what happens. It's like you just want to shake these kids and tell them to use their powers for good rather than 'evil.' They obviously have some skills or they wouldn't even be able to do the illegal things well.


I hope you get to visit them and that whatever you share with them starts to make a dent in the armor they have put on themselves to protect their hearts from the hurt that was their upbringing.

Vypergirl said...

This just makes my heart sad. Almost everyone I went to high school with have become teachers and several of them are dealing with the kids who seem to have been "forgotten" by someone in their lives.

Good for you, Erin!! I think it is awesome that they know they can still come to you when they need support. I hope that you get to go see those boys soon.