Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Get Out While We're Young

We all put in our hours. And it wasn't just the teachers and staff. It was the boys themselves. They came to us at the beginning of the year, having registered in our office on a day I happened to be stopping by over the summer. Last summer. While their mother signed forms and filled in blanks, the boys looked around their new school. I introduced myself as the computer teacher, and sometimes PE coach. They would be in the third grade, but not together. It was never a good idea to have siblings together. With Mark and David, this was especially true, but I couldn't have know that when we met.
They seemed so enthusiastic and well-adjusted. Most kids do on those first encounters in the office. Whether they were on their best behavior because they had been counseled to do so or maybe the truly were overwhelmed by this fresh start. It would be difficult to say what kept those first few moments together so pleasant when just a few months later we would all be scratching our heads and wondering what we could have done differently. How could we rein in the holy terror unleashed on a nearly daily basis by Mark or David. Or both at once.
They were rude. They were aggressive. They were defiant. They were loud. They were trouble. In and out of the classroom. They wouldn't calm down once they got stirred up, and it didn't take much to get them going. Sometimes they would set one another off. On any given morning, there was a call being made home on the behalf of one or the other. Mark and David's mother, who had seemed so happy to have found a new place for her boys to continue their education, quickly fell into a pattern of denial, and then avoidance. Those phone calls didn't amount to much more than the periodic early pickup from school when one of them had pushed the bounds too far.
Too far was where, most days, you would find Mark and David. They would show up early, and if there wasn't a screaming match coming from the kickball diamond, there were curses being hurled at four square, or pushing and shoving at the front of the third grade lines. The boys' teachers stretched their patience and their curriculum to make room for their challenges. Other teachers made room for them in their classrooms for those times when Mark and David needed to be anywhere but where they were supposed to be. And little by little, we all did what we could to help them find ways to express themselves in healthy ways. We worked to give them a place to learn. About themselves and all the reading and writing and arithmetic they had been missing while storming out of the classrooms where they were supposed to be. We had begun to break through, and the anger was on the cusp of being managed.
Then they were gone: transferred to another school. With just a month left in the school year, mom had gone to another office somewhere else in the district and signed the boys up to finish up there. I assume there will be that honeymoon period I experienced, however briefly. All smiles. Summer's coming. Another summer.

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