Saturday, December 01, 2012

The New Math

I've got a fifteen-year-old living at my house. He's my son. He worries about passing Chemistry. He wonders if that girl he kind of likes will sit next to him on the bus. He hopes that he gets an X-Box 360 for Christmas. He's not that different from a lot of fifteen-year-olds. He, like so many other kids his age, is alive.
A fifteen-year-old girl and her sixteen-year-old companion are not. They were found near Brookdale Park in Oakland this past Sunday morning. They had been shot, and were pronounced dead in a hospital a few hours later. I mention the park, not because the girls came from that area, but because I ride my bike past it every day on my way to work. At a school. Where I teach kids, many of whom will grow up to be fifteen-year-olds.
Or not.
Just down the road in San Jose, there is a fifteen-year-old whose fondest Christmas wish is probably for a good attorney. Adonis Muldrow will be tried as an adult on charges he was one of two people responsible for a November 16 crime spree that killed a Campbell man and ambushed and wounded a San Jose police officer. These two crimes don't have a connection beyond their rough geographical location and their ages. Or maybe they do. I find myself wondering if I am finally old enough that I look back at the generation I am watching in my rear view mirror and wondering how they will survive. 
Kevin, a third grader at my school, came up to me the other day and asked, "Mister Caven, do you remember my sister Krystal?"
I told him I did.
"She has a baby."
And now I found myself working harder to remember Krystal. Pretty girl. Good at math. She had been promoted from our school just a few years ago. "How old is Krystal?" I wanted to check my own calculations.
"Fourteen. The baby is seven months old."
I appreciated him filling in that other blank. "That makes you an uncle. How do you like that?"
"It's okay," Kevin was done with his sharing for the morning and went off to play four square. I'm guessing he wanted to do that a little less than he wanted an X-Box 360 for Christmas, but more than being in jail or being shot. He's only eight.

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