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at the high school i subbed at yesterday (warning: painful)

Discussion in 'Parents Off Topic' started by czardoust, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. czardoust

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    I subbed for 12th grade english. Wonderful bunch of kids. The last period of the day, in came this tall giant of a boy, I'll call him "J." Within 5 minutes of class, I figured out that J was the kid that everybody chooses to punk, pick on, degrade, be rude to, and all around make feel like slime. J was having some ADHD, anger/behavioral issues and was definetly not on meds, or they had worn off (probably the latter because it was the end of the day). After 5 more minutes, it got heated to the point that J wanted to fight, and not just one but all of them (who were all less than half his size). I needed a student to take the attendance roll to the office anyways, so I asked J to take it, give him an excuse to cool off.

    I met him in the hallway on his way back in, and he didnt skip class at all, he came right back. I told him that I understood him, first off, I used to be him, I was the one who was picked on all the time, the one who was chosen as the punching bag. Generally, nice quiet kids are, especially if they are smart. I told him things would get better, he would graduate in just 3 short weeks. I reminded him that if they are being that rude and mean, that they probably are spoiled, shallow people who havent felt any loss in their life or felt any real pain (at least enough to make them stop and think what they are doing to others). He came back in and then after everyone finished their work, I let them talk and listen to the classroom radio. He walks up and shows me his poetry notebook (he likes concrete poetry and he is very imaginative). Its dark, sad, gripping, painful to read but very good. He's dealing with death issues. I flip thru the whole notebook because he said it was a notebook full of poetry, and come across a story he has written (he likes japanese anime, art, quotes). How sad it was, it made me think of the book I had just been reading (because it was on the teachers bookshelf and I had been reading in planning period) called A Lifetime of Secrets by Frank Warren. Anyone ever read this book? Its simply a collection of postcards people have sent to the author, anonymously giving away their darkest deepest secrets, releasing their fears, anxiety, pain, hurt, anger... very healing, I sobbed like a baby, squalled that whole planning period! :rolleyes: anyway, I started showing J some random pages, like the one with the lion in a cage, and the secret was "I feel caged. I have to be sedated to be in public to be normal." The next one I randomly flipped to was a picture of insulin supplies, syringes, lancets and a typed piece of message glued on it, that said "I want to get my childhood back from diabetes." I blurted out about this one affecting me so much because of my daughter, it was the one that really sent me squalling. We talked a little about the anger expressed in all the photos and messages. He mentioned he made a youtube video of him and his friends, so I mentioned about Kats video. Then he said "oh wow, she has diabetes too? my mom used to have that." I said "really? "(thinking used too....) he said "yeh before she died." I said "well when did this happen?" "two years ago, I was 16... yeh I was 16." I asked him "had she been sick?" he said "no, it just happened all of a sudden I dont know why. I just feel so bad because my little sister was only 4 and I broke down and cried, I shouldnt have done that, i shouldve been there for her." I said, "J, you did a perfectly normal thing. You reacted in a way that anyone would have." He went on about how it was wrong. I asked him where he lived, he said with his grandparents because his father left the picture when he was little. I didnt pry into what kind of diabetes she had, that wasn't important, and i got the feeling that he didnt know.

    I talked to him for the better part of an hour. And it went ON, past what I have said here. I think by the end I got him to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and he was able to breathe, which I swear he had not done before, he was so angry at the students who were taunting him. He needed a connection to someone who understood what he was going through. I was at the right place at the right time, and I think its awesome how the universal powers that be line people up for that. I am hoping that J does not choose to go Columbine in some way on his classmates before he graduates. He would be one that I would worry about because he has no fear of the consequences, he wants death, and loves/connects with violence and death. he also has no friends, no outlet except writing and anime. I'm thinking on how to handle it, because i do think someone should know, but I dont want J to feel like "oh, the one time someone gets it, they rat on me." i just hope he was helped in some way....
     
  2. Dad of Daughters

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    Good for you for taking the time to care for this young person. For you as a substitute teacher to take this much of on interest in this child's well being is a great thing. Thank you!
     
  3. Kalebsmom

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    I can not thank you enough for taking the time to talk to J. Kaleb was bullied pretty bad starting in 6th grade. We had just moved to our town and we quickly realized that 6th grade is NOT the best grade to change schools. Kaleb had a teacher that took him in a little while he was at school. The bulling went on for a few years. Kaleb was very smart then and kids hated him for that. He was made fun of because his eyes were too blue, his nose was too big ( his dad is Italian and Irish ), he smiles too much and on and on.

    I was not there so I do not know how scary J really is. However, I hope that maybe you got through to him. I am not sure if I would say anything to anyone. I am sure they already know how he is. I doubt you know anything they don't. It sounds like you are the only one that would listen to him and I think if you betrayed that trust it may just make it worse.

    But, I think you need to go with your gut.
     
  4. saxmaniac

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    I distinctly remember feeling in high school that the teachers barely even knew I was there, because I wasn't a troublemaker. Nobody ever talked to me like that. You did a great thing.
     
  5. Barbzzz

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    Carolyn, bless you for coming to that boy's aid. He really needed someone to just "listen," and yes, I too believe that that's why you were there. Thank you. All our kids need someone like you.
     
  6. Gaia

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    You sound like a great teacher. You listened and maybe thats just all he needed. I hope he feels he can come to you again. I wish all teachers were like you. :cwds:
     
  7. StillMamamia

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    You are so right. This was meant to happen.
    I can only think maybe focusing on his writing talent and encouraging him to try different styles and subjects;), using the excuse that you believe in him and would love to read other things from him. Maybe you could give him subjects for him...you know..."healthier" subjects.
    Kudos to you for taking time for this person.
     
  8. wdhinn89

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    You are TRULY, TRULY a wonderful person. God Bless you and thank you!
     
  9. shekov

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    How awesome! I wish ANY teacher had noticed me in high school. I bet he gets ignored until he acts out like that and then gets lectured at rather than listened to. You are amazing and I'm sure that J. will remember you forever.
     
  10. hrtmom3

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    Caroly,

    Thanks for sharing your story and thank you for caring enough to put forth the effort in making a difference in this young man's life. May he be blessed by what you shared with him and you for doing so.
     
  11. Eve

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    You are a wonderful person to take the time for J. It sounds like he really needs to talk to someone. The world is very cruel at times and it's nice to know there are people that want to help others. You definitely get a gold star for that one!! and I hope J will be ok.
     
  12. grantsmom

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    Carolyn,

    What a heartwarming story...I am so proud of you!

    You may have made just a huge huge huge difference in that young mans life
     
  13. BCmom

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    Oh my! You are an amazing teacher, mentor, person.... thank-you for being so sensitive to him and I hope you managed to bring him some light and hope...
     
  14. LJM

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    You may not even realize it Carolyn, but you very likely could have made a huge impact on this young man. How wonderful you took the time to listen to him.
     
  15. zimbie45

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    Carolyn
    Thank you so much for doing what you do! and for doing it well.. I often feel the teachers job is not just about teaching whats in a book,. THere is so much more to it. For " j" you are what he needed. 25 years ago my mother was killed, i was raised by my aunt. I was only 6. It was hard. very hard. but i had one teacher in the 4th grade that made a BIG difference. I often still think of her to this day! Your story touched my heart, thank you for sharing!
     
  16. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

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    Kudos to you for reaching out. If you feel he is in danger of hurting himself or others, how would you proceed? Did you get those feelings based on his writings? Often we are afraid to ask if someone has suicidal or homicidal thoughts, plan, ... but it's important to explore it or get someone who can. Trust your instincts. If you think the situation needs follow-up, please don't hesitate to seek the right persons to do so - or if you feel you can go and ask him the tough questions, can that be arranged?
     
  17. czardoust

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    i've been thinking about it. if he had been an obvious threat i would have said something that day. what prompted me to worry was a combination of his drawings, his writings, and his behaviour towards others. honestly, his lack of inhibition/concern/desire for seeking revenge made me wonder if he had frontal lobe damage. but i think he is just a child in need of help.
     
  18. bisous

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    I'm grateful for your compassion. I hope this child gets what he needs. Adolescence can be so hard, we need all the loving people in our lives that we can!
     
  19. Ellen

    Ellen Senior Member

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    This raises a very big red flag. But I wasn't there so you'll have to trust your instincts, or consult with someone who may be able to provide him with more support.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  20. 2type1s

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    I'm so very touched that you reached out. I really hoped you gave him some hope to cling to. High School is not fun for those who are not "normal".

    Ellen sparked a "red flag" for me as well, though. My husband works for the crime lab here. He had to work a famous case about a serial "fast food" murderer. Psychiatrist testified at one of his trials (he killed 7 people, I think at 3 different restaurants) that he had frontal lobe damage. He was declared mentally competent, however and knew right from wrong, he just didn't care. That's chilling to me.

    What I pray is that you helped turn his ship around and go a different path. You will be blessed for reaching out to him.
     

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