Hokey Pokey (What this blog's all about)

A writing challenge I've given myself to write every day for six months. After some posts, I'll put in a comment with a brief explanation of the inspiration for the piece. Some posts will be practice for bigger projects: character sketches or settings. I don't really know what all will happen which is why I'm doing it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Day 59

I worked on an assignment for grad school which was really emotionally taxing.  When you write your memories, you relive them, in greater detail and over a longer period than the actual scene was at times.  I tried to clip through sections here and there to present a whole, tightly packaged scene.  So I cut out a lot that flooded into memory.  I'm gonna go ahead and do some dumping of what got cut.  These are about kids I've taught in residential treatment, which is where kids who struggle to function in life, much less school, are educated(ish.)

I remember a little girl with big brown eyes and long shiny medium brown hair.  She was always dressed like a princess and followed all the rules in school.  She was a good student, but significantly smaller than she should have been.  She had a Russian accent even though she had no memory of the Russian orphanage she came from.  She'd been adopted and then dumped back into the system when her problems were too big for any normal parent to navigate.  I was once in my office, late in the evening.  It was probably 7ish.  I'd gone home, eaten, and come back to finish some work.  The school was long ago closed and the kids were at the houses on campus where they spent their evenings.  This girl suddenly appeared in my classroom.
"V?  Is that you?"
She smiled and said "Hi, Miss Mitchell."  in her cute little Russian accent.
I had her come into my office and we chatted.  She claimed nothing was wrong and was her usual upbeat self.  I told her I'd need to call her house and let the staff working know where she was.  She was fine with it.  I picked up the phone and dialed.  It began ringing just as the twentyish staff member with big, pretty blue eyes, and long healthy black hair came in.
The doe-eyed sweetpea, maniacally laughed as she sprinted toward her, leapt into the air, grabbed fistfuls of black hair and hung from them.  She continued to laugh and squirm.
The next day at school, it was as though it had never happened.  That is an attachment disorder.

There was a 17 year old mentally disabled boy that I pulled out of classes in a group of four for intensive reading and math instruction.  One day, two of the other three from the group were missing so it was just the two boys and myself.  While I stood at the board, the other boy interrupted saying "Miss, I'm sorry but J has his hand in his pants.  I just thought you should know."
"Yeah, so you're going to need to get your hand out of your pants, J."
J wrote an apology note in his disabled way that included the phrases "I'm sorry I put my hand in my pants in your classroom," "I promise never to put my hand in my pants in your class."  and probably said "hand in my pants" about four more times in various forms.

My sister-in-law briefly worked for the symphony and got us some free tickets.  I talked about going the next day at school and many of the boys I worked with not only had never been but didn't know what the symphony was.  Because they were institutionalized, I made arrangements for them to go to a formal dress rehearsal (rather than a regular performance.)  I remember being absolutely terrified something would go horribly wrong.  I'm sure I snapped here and there in an attempt to keep them on their absolute best behavior.  They did just that.  They had a fantastic time, wrote beautiful thank you notes, and didn't put a toe out of line.  It was one of the best things I've ever done.

At one of my jobs, I didn't really make quite enough money, so sometimes I picked up extra shifts in the evening working at the houses where the boys lived.  I remember going back to the house after school and having enough free time that I offered to take the boys for a run.  It wasn't a major, planned outing but they really appreciated it.  We jogged around this normal suburban neighborhood while they chatted and just got to act like normal (albeit slower-running) teenaged boys.  I was seen as somewhat of a tough staff member.  So they were sent into hysterics when we came upon a snake and I screamed like Jamie Lee in a horror movie.

I remember the day a boy broke my aquarium in a fit of anger, sending glass and African water frogs all over the floor.  I wasn't there but it was something I didn't do well at forgiving.  I never was good at forgiving animal abuse and told therapists not to tell me if that was an issue a kid had.

I remember getting flowers from the boys my last day working with them and that they each thanked me for some way I'd impacted them, something we'd done.  Each one said something different.  It was the only time I remember crying in front of students.  It remains possibly the most meaningful moment of my professional life.

No comments:

Post a Comment