Thursday, February 17, 2005


life is about balance and somewhere in february my see-saw tipped over. i'm interpreting today as a wake-up call. i think i've been really self-absorbed lately. my stress level has peaked and this causes me to brainstorm over whether teaching is my future and the benefits and drawbacks of teaching. swept up in the tide of testing, status, and teaching ideology, i fear i might leave my students behind.

people are fallible and everyone has problems. my kids included. my kids eat drugs like candy and are pretty shitty with the idea of protected sex. but i don't think these issues are solely related to my kids. rich kids take lots of drugs too. in fact, they can afford the expensive stuff. yet, my kids get caught up in the system because they don't have lawyers or money to bail them out or to cover up their messes. they get steered through juvenile courts like cattle. many of them think it's inevitable. and with the glamorization of the ghetto, some of my students earn merit points when they get "faded". they even make up stories about it. not all of my students want to "be ghetto," as they put it, but some work really hard for that status. sometimes it's hard to take them seriously when you know that they've got two really hard-working parents and, despite the ass-sagging pants and the red or blue shirts, they are pretty good kids. they're faking it.

but tragic stories do unfold. we've all heard them. this kid's whole family is in jail, this kid saw his mother get shot by his father, this kid lives with her grandparents because the parents are dope feins. we've also got a lot of foster homes in our area. those kids are fucking depressing. i've noticed, and granted i've only been teaching for a year and a half, but lots of my foster kids end up in rehab or the state hospital. it's really really depressing.

today mikey came back to class. he'd been hospitalized after being beaten over the head with a tire iron. six boys jumped him and his two friends (one being a girl who fought three boys) and broke his jaw and fractured his skull. his eyes are still cloudy with blood and his face is swollen. what touched me was his need to talk to me, to reach out for help.
this kid has probably been in my class for a total of four weeks all year. he's been expelled and sent to the alternative learning center for most of the year on drug charges. but i've always liked mikey. he's a really sweet kid and he's really been dealt a difficult hand.
in the past mikey has always kept to himself so you can imagine my surprise when he spilled his guts. he talked about his family and how cps is getting involved and he's eighteen but still classified as a sophomore but he needs to get a job to support his family since his mother and father are in jail now... and whew. i'm looking at this kid and i want to lay out a step-by-step plan to help him. i want to be able to change things for him. i casually remind him that violence breeds more violence and he might want to think about the people he hangs around. but come on. his buddies are all that he's got. he's not going to give them up. i think he's been pushing drugs. but i honestly believe him when he argues that he's trying to put food on the table for his sisters and mom. he doesn't strike me as an extravagant kid. i don't know. i promised him i'd talk to his counselor about taking the g.e.d.

i've got another kid who's getting death threats because he's been deemed a racist. apparently rumors are flying that he's part of the KKK and, whoa, that's enough to start a riot. he was shot at the other day and yesterday another girl told him to "watch his back for what he has coming." i want to scream at these kids. LOOK. violence is not going to change anyone's views. if anything, this guy is going to start hating black people because he's getting the shit kicked out of him for views he doesn't hold. it's a no-win situation. and unfortunately, it's continuing to escalate.

i actually had a few more disturbing conversations today but i don't feel like writing anymore. i know this sounds naive, but i want closure. i want to fix it. i'm amazed that my kids can sit through lectures and projects about old, white, dead people when they have so much shit going on around them. stuff i never dealt with when i was their age.


Blogger Pigs said...

What's "faded"? I'm out of touch.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Mad Hatter said...

i just learned "faded" the other week. it means you got caught by the cops or, maybe just searched. it has to do with the cops.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Mr. Babylon said...

Where I'm from "faded" means highly intoxicated.

3:55 PM  

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