"I Don't Know What To Do With Him/Her"
I no longer know how to respond to the statement, "I don't know what do with him," and I most definitely become flustered at the ridiculous declarations of, "she doesn't act like this at home." Please parents, get real, we can't help if you can't tell the truth. It just isn't possible to either work with a child, or even work with a parent if the parent isn't on board with all of the people wanting to help. We are useless if you don't talk to us, stymied if you don't listen, and even worse, worthless if you can't see the thing staring you in the face.
Over the years I've worked with countless children who for one reason or another have been deemed "just not worth it. Sometimes parents give up, sometimes they've never tried, and sometimes the child just doesn't want you to, but I've never believed that, and I never will. Each year brings a new child and a new challenge, and yet the biggest challenge comes in deciding to meet that challenge head on. Sometimes you get smiles, sometimes you get tears, sometimes you get cracked in the face, and sometimes you get absolutely nothing at all.
Is it worth it? Of course it is. Making the difference in one child's life is worth the ten we can't reach. Knowing that one child is a better person, or that one child can wake up in the morning knowing that there's someone out there who cares about them.......... yes, it's worth it, and how could anyone say that it isn't? They can't, and if they do maybe it's time to wake up and see the world.
My newest challenge is an imp........... we'll call him Charlie. He's six years old, has a knock em dead smile, and he is certifiably TERRIBLE. Terrible may seem like an awful word to use in describing a first grader, but it actually is the nicest description I can come up with. Charlie terrorizes his classmates, beats on his teacher (literally), has temper tantrums that redefine the word tantrum, writes on wall, throws over desks, kicks. screams, and yes, he bites!
My co-workers hear his name, and there is an immediate response that can run anywhere from giggles to horror. Charlie can bring those responses out in most anyone, and even the horror eventually turns to giggles. You have to laugh; everyday gives us reasons to laugh. Unfortunately, Charlie's mother doesn't agree.
She makes excuses; she blames his teachers, she blames the other students, she blames the entire world, and yet she doesn't see herself as a part of the problem. We try the reward system; she buys him rewards for behaving badly. Expensive rewards; rewards he hasn't earned, and rewards that teach him he'll get a toy if he doesn't bite, but that throwing books at children is okay. He can still have that electronic robot on Friday after school. The parents of the other children in his classroom address the administration; they look for answers to the constant distraction he's become in the life of thirty other kids, but there are no easy answers. What do we do?
Charlie has lost some of his endearing qualities; sadly, he's lost them even with me. I love seeing him in the hall; I love knowing that in his worst moments he responds to me, and I hate it that I know until he receives the same message both at school and at home; the message is useless. This year has found me keeping my distance; he sees me an an advocate, as a reward for misbehavior. My entrance into a classroom means that he gets to leave the one place he doesn't want to be, and that he doesn't have to do what he's told because I will take him out of the prison he imagines his classroom to be, and in a sense he has won. He hasn't figured out how to illicit positive attention, and yes, he wants attention, so he he gets it any way he can. Taking him out of the learning environment isn't a punishment; it's the prize at the end of the game.
Will I continue to watch out for him? Yeah, I will. Would I want to be his designated babysitter within the classroom? Absolutely not! Will I ever look at his classmate's parents and tell them to cut him some slack, that there's nothing to worry about? Never! But I will watch out for him, and I will continue to look for the good as opposed to the bad, and I will always tell him when he's doing something I'm proud of, and I will always strive to make him see that being proud of himself is the most important thing he will ever do. At the end of the day; he just a kid; he's just a little kid, and at the end of the day we have to remember that there is something good in everyone. That even if we can't see it, it's there, and maybe, just maybe, we need to dig deep and look a little bit harder.
Every child needs to feel "worth" it, and every child needs attention. So how do we do it while fighting against the odds and fighting parents who don't want to deal? The generation of "no accountability." How do we make them accountable?