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caregiver9000 posted 9/16/2013 19:08 PM

I work with troubled youth.

I have a teen who is repeating 11th grade English for the 3rd time. Part of the course in my county is a research paper attached to a "graduation project." I suspected that the lack of a paper had derailed him in past attempts for the course.

First step? I asked him to think about a topic he wanted to spend some time with. A few days later I asked for his topic choice.

He chose "Child Abuse." I supported his choice. He was instantly indignant. Said if he'd been "allowed" to chose that topic before, he would have passed the first two times he took this course. I asked why his choice was not accepted? He said because his teacher said it "had already been done."

OK, side rant here. How the heck are kids supposed to be interested in something BRAND new every year? Can't we do a better job at guiding the writing process so we know we aren't getting recycled papers???

I simply answered that we could narrow his focus so that his paper was his, and that it was more important to me that he care about his topic since we were going to spend so much time on it.

This conversation took place with me at my desk and him across the room at a computer. He is the only junior I have at this point. An innocent enough conversation.... That led to him asking if I knew why he wanted to address that topic. And then this 18 year old child that I have known for 4 days, tells me a heartbreaking story of the time he did something, (he is sure that he did something, but he can't remember WHAT exactly, but something. And despite him begging his football coach NOT to call his dad his dad was called to school) and his dad "disciplined" him in a way that made him feel like it might have "slipped over" into abuse. Given that he took a boot to the face as part of the beating, I am pretty sure he is right in that assessment.

I am frozen at my desk, looking at the back of this adult sized male telling me a heartbreaking truth. I don't move. I don't interrupt. I am conscious of the clock, because the class time is coming to a close.

Class change is upon us. I get up and I walk over to stand next to his computer. I say quietly, "I am sorry this happened to you." I manage not to cry. I add that "It doesn't matter" what he did that he can't remember. "No child... NO HUMAN BEING, but especially a child of any age, deserved to be treated that way."

As if that weren't enough?

Today, same student, responds to "how was your weekend?" with "pretty terrible."

His brother was killed in a head on collision Friday night. 20 years old, with a two year old son. His gf (pregnant again) was in the car and is in critical condition and may lose the baby. Four in the car, two dead, two seriously injured.

I got to view the news footage and had all the people identified for me. His eyes were wet with tears as he described crying and crying and then laughing because he couldn't cry any more.

I heard the story of how he learned about this brother. They nearly came to blows two years ago, and when his dad was called to the school, he told the two boys they were brothers.

I heard the story about how his brother didn't think he would graduate but he did. He got that cap and his smile was "so big..."

I heard about the child and the unborn baby who are going to grow up without a daddy.

I heard about how his smile was contagious and you couldn't help but smile too.

I felt inadequate. And I felt privately ashamed. Because I had seen the headline for the "Third accident involving teens" and I had assumed the teens were at fault. Texting and driving. Or just teenaged inattentive driving. But for whatever faults these teens may have had, they were NOT at fault in this accident. It looks like the driver who crossed the center line and struck their car may have been under the influence.

I felt at a loss and bewildered that this man/child was at school in this day of grief and so far from family. He seemed lost, and cut off. (We take cell phones during the AM search.) I offered to take him to check his phone, to see if there were messages. He said he didn't get service in the building anyway...

So helpless. So sad.

metamorphisis posted 9/16/2013 19:14 PM

He so needs to talk . He's just desperate for someone to give a shit. Thank you for doing that. Please keep listening. You are making a difference.

caregiver9000 posted 9/16/2013 19:22 PM

thanks meta. I know he needs to talk. Hell! I need to talk and I just had to listen to it....

It is just too much.

h0peless posted 9/16/2013 19:31 PM

I work with the same population. It's so sad how desperate so many of them are to have somebody, anybody, to talk to and to be a role model for them. It can be so heartbreaking.

jo2love posted 9/16/2013 19:35 PM

(((caregiver, student, and family)))

I'm so sorry for what he is going through. I'm thankful he has you to lean on.

yewtree posted 9/16/2013 19:41 PM

Caregiver, thank you for putting my life in perspective and for making me rethink the topic I was about to post. Thank you for showing this young man that he has value and that you care. Your simple kindness just might change his life.

jrc1963 posted 9/16/2013 19:59 PM


I get it... You know I get it.

Take care of yourself so you can keep being there for them.

Dreamboat posted 9/16/2013 20:00 PM

He so needs to talk . He's just desperate for someone to give a shit. Thank you for doing that. Please keep listening. You are making a difference.


Even though you may feel inadequate, the fact that you are an adult listening to this man child is making a world of difference to him. You may be the first adult who ever really listened to him.

Caregiver, you name says it all


authenticnow posted 9/16/2013 20:34 PM


You have made a huge, meaningful difference in this young man's life (and I'm sure many, many others).

Yours is not an easy job. Those kids are lucky to have you.

Pentup posted 9/16/2013 21:18 PM

Thank you seems so inadequate. But thank you CG. Thank you for being there and telling him that he did not deserve that. Hugs to both of you. Keeping you both in my prayers tonight.

Sad in AZ posted 9/16/2013 21:36 PM

I'm glad you were there for him. No amount of caring is inadequate. What you did is head and shoulders above what anyone else has done in his life. Now take care of yourself. (((((caregiver))))

ThoughtIKnewYa posted 9/16/2013 21:41 PM


Hugs to all.

hexed posted 9/17/2013 00:52 AM


OMG! Whoa...just too much

cmego posted 9/17/2013 07:01 AM you realize how much of a difference you may have made in his life??? To have one adult show him compassion will stay with him forever...I have a feeling you were meant to be there at that moment.

My xSO suffered horrible childhood abuse, and I would listen to some of the stories and realize I was holding my breath. I couldn't imagine what he survived. But, I think that sometimes he just needed someone to listen to him. To know not all people abuse and neglect and use other people.

You are such a great teacher

tushnurse posted 9/17/2013 08:05 AM

Sometimes kids grow up as a product of their environment, but sometimes on rare occasions when they have a special teacher, leader, or mentor reach out, and show them the way, they can grow to be wonderful people that become who they are despite their environment, sounds like this kid has the potential to be one of these.

The grief he must feel, and you as well. Hugs, peace, and strength to you both.

Kajem posted 9/17/2013 14:20 PM


(((((((((Man child)))))))))

At a loss for words.

caregiver9000 posted 9/17/2013 16:42 PM

I read many of the posts last night before I went to bed. I started to respond then, and decided to sleep first.

I appreciate the kudos and the idea that I "did something." I am not minimizing teaching at all, because I believe it is an enormous job with loads of responsibility and potential to make a difference.

But.... I don't see this particular moment as HUGE. Maybe because it wasn't a huge thing to do. It was a "simple kindness." And that is all it was. Something so tiny and costless. It took nothing to be there, to listen and to CARE.

I don't understand why there are not more moments like this for children. I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that too often people are too busy, too caught up in worry, themselves, a task (or CURRICULUM) to have this type of moment be commonplace...

I am glad that moment occurred. I am glad that connections between people still take place in this digital world. I will try to slow down every day to allow for such a moment in case it is needed.

This student was in school again today. I did not have a chance to talk with him because I was in a three hour meeting this afternoon about DATA. But when I saw him this morning, I did wonder that school is where he chooses to be on these days.

Thanks for the support and hugs and prayers. Y'all help me keep being who I am in the classroom by feeding my soul and spirit here.

Kajem posted 9/17/2013 22:15 PM

This student was in school again today. I did not have a chance to talk with him because I was in a three hour meeting this afternoon about DATA. But when I saw him this morning, I did wonder that school is where he chooses to be on these days.

I wonder if he's running from the pain by keeping busy. I hope the rest of his senior year is kind to him and you.


[This message edited by Kajem at 10:16 PM, September 17th (Tuesday)]

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