Years ago when I was teaching in Questa, NM, I was on morning bus duty when a fight broke out between two girls. Although both girls had steady boyfriends, one girl had been seen holding hands with the other girl's boyfriend - hence the fight. After escorting the girls to the office, it dawned on me that the boyfriends would be getting off the buses soon. I ran the length of the school, down the hall to the bus area. Sure enough I got there as one boyfriend took a swing at the other boyfriend. A male teacher caught one of the boys around the waist and held him while I grabbed the other and dragged him away. I sent him to my office to wait on me.
I didn't really care much for the girls, but the boys were two of my favorites - all time favorites. The boys were as different as night and day. One boy was from an old, well-to-do Questa family. He was smart and fun and always pleasant. He has done well in the world - as I knew he would. The other boy from a broken home, poor, on his own, but charming and easy to like. His life would always be hard, but I felt like with encouragement, he could make it.
It was the second boy that I sent to my office to wait on me. It was his girlfriend who had cheated on him with the other guy. When I got there, there were big tears in his eyes, and he said, "I just wanted someone to love me." It broke my heart. I wanted to take him home and mother him and love him as his mother should have done. But I couldn't and didn't, because he was a grown man. I still think of him often and worry about him.
Last Friday a fight nearly broke out in my fourth hour class. Silly talk went from silly to mouthy to fightin' words very quickly. I wanted them out of my classroom since they were a danger to everyone in the room. I called the office and told the principal that I was sending them to him. And off they went. My adrenaline was pumping - probably not as much as theirs, but it took a while to settle everyone down.
One of the boys is the deputy county sheriff's son. He is big kid. I like him well enough. The other kid is from a druggie, broken home. He is on his own doing the best he can. He is smart and charming. I like him. But I worry that he won't make it. I worry that he will be swept away by the awfulness in his life.
It was the second boy who came back to my room. He apologized. He cried. I encouraged him to keep going - that lots of teachers want to see him do well. I don't know if he will make it. It's tough to be on your own. When both of your parents are losers, there is no one to teach you a better way. Teachers, counselors, administrators, etc, try to encourage these kids, but there is really only so much we can do. After all, those kids are not ours. Kids are only with us for a few hours a day. Ultimately, they have to make the right decisions on their own. Very few make it like in "The Blind Side." It breaks my heart.