I got a phone call tonight from a former student… if you’ve been reading my blog long enough, I hope you can guess who. (Yep! THIS KID.) Unfortunately, the call was heartbreak after heartbreak, but you’re going to have to re-live it with me.
I’ll let you digest all of the things wrong with this picture without too much narration from me. The only context I want to add is to make sure you don’t get the wrong impression of my protagonist himself (but go ahead and be as horrified as possible with the world in this story). This boy is an absolutely wonderful kid who has had a long list of devastatingly terrible things happen to him. He’s violent and tough and can be very disrespectful, but he’s also blatantly only like that because he was too young to know how to handle all of the terrible things life threw at him early. He can be dreadful with adults, but he is painstakingly kind and deeply protective of anyone younger than him, anyone weaker than him, his friends, and girls. He has a nurturing instinct like I’ve never seen… make sure you notice that as you read. Also, keep in mind that I taught him in eighth grade – last year.
I answered the phone and was immediately flooded by disasters.
“Ms. Mathinaz! I just got into a big argument with [our former assistant principal]. I told him I was going to kill him and burn the school down. He told my girlfriend that she needed to get a restraining order against me, but I can’t let her do that because she’s five months pregnant with my kid. Do you remember her? She just finished eighth grade.
“She wants to finish school, so she says I need to drop out and take care of the baby, and she wants me to provide for both of them. But I don’t want to drop out – I’m smart and want to be someone someday. I said she needs to drop out, but she doesn’t want to. She wanted to give it up for adoption, but I told her I’d get a DNA test and stop that. I don’t want anyone else raising my kid. I have some money and no one could raise my kid better than me.
“Remember [sweet, very low kid from our class]? He’s doing really well now. His girlfriend just had her baby. It’s cute but they gave it a lot of names. Don’t tell anyone this, but last year I used to do all of his work for him. Sometimes I wouldn’t have time to do my own and the teachers would get mad at me, but I wasn’t sorry. I didn’t have to do it in your class, because you cared about him and spent a lot of extra time with him. He knew that, so he worked for you and learned a lot in there. But in other classes, he needed that extra push. He needed someone who cared, and no one cared about him, so I did. I’d do all the work on my desk, and then throw all my stuff around the room like I was in a really bad mood. Then he’d always be the nice guy and pick it up for me, and that way he could keep it. I think he’s destined for great things and I just wanted to help him along. He’s doing really well now.
“I’m going to start high school again in the fall. I missed my whole freshman year because I got expelled. I got in a fight with our English teacher because he never taught us anything. He said he would get paid whether we learned or not, and he was just in it for the money. Then he started talking to the whole class about how we were worthless and not going to amount to anything, and he wasn’t just talking to me anymore, but also [a couple of good friends] were in that class. So then I got mad, and I told him, ‘Pieces of shit teachers like you are the reason that kids like us end up failing.’ And then I was going to swing at him, but another kid tackled me. So I got sent to the principal, and the principal told me that I was useless and I might as well just give up now. Another time, he also said that to [another boy I taught], but his mom heard about it and came and got all up in his face. I think he’s fired now. But when he said it to me, I tried to hit him. I got expelled.”
My babies. You never got sex ed, too many adults forgot to love you, all you know is violence, and we sent you on to a dropout factory. We cut off your legs and put you at the bottom of a mountain, and yet it’s just up to you to find your own way to the top.
Honey, if I knew how to make it easier, I’d do it in a second. I swear.