‘My cousins want me to get a job so I can move out.’ she offered as we walked towards the corner store.
Angel is a junior in my fashion class.
‘How old are you? 16?’
Angel : ‘I’m 17, I’ll be 18 this October‘.
My mental calculations did the math; she would be 18 in the beginning of her senior year.
‘Are you being told to leave?
Angel ‘No, but my cousins think that it will happen as soon as I turn 18. It’s really crowded in my house..’
Angel came in today, on a Wednesday, when NO student has to report for classes, she came in. THIS is a flag.
A- Student would rather be in school than home
B- Student is sooo dedicated that they will use their FREE time to invest in their work
C- All of the ABOVE
These are the signs I look for.
‘So, do your cousins work?’
She laughs, ‘No!‘
‘Oh! So they want to tell you what to do, without KNOWING what to do?!!‘
The truth was that while she was in the classroom, while she was trying to finish her work, her phone kept her distracted by the constant notifications.
The dings, the calls, the interruptions.. and she couldn’t finish because of the bombardment.
I walked over to her and while I was present, she ignored those distractions and she completed her drape… I was so proud…
But I knew that if it weren’t for my PRESENCE, she wouldn’t have finished.
She wouldn’t have found the courage to IGNORE those distractions and focus on the job.
Kind of like when you ‘work extra hard’, because your BOSS is present? (Industrial Psychology, look it up)
I had her take pictures of her finished drape as evidence of work.
Angel has many classes to make up.
Since the pandemic, there has been a myriad of students that have experienced difficulties, not being able to get online, not possessing devices, lack of technology, not being able to manage academically, socially, emotionally..
And while too many people lived in oblivion, ‘this is a 2 week thing’, ‘it’s not that serious’, I foresaw the impact.
Even posted the reckoning on my Instagram .. How it will obligate us to rethink education.
Maybe my Grad work in Informational Technology had A LOT to do with it, and somehow I knew our children would be the little hostages of that situation. Yet THAT would only exasperate the current situation.. the reality that is, under-served communities/families, childhood neglect , child abuse.. and the DOE’s answer? NX.. ‘no harm grading’.
Give an NX to every class on the high school level (thats my exclusive experience) for any class they couldn’t complete. The NX was classified as NO HARM grading.
Don’t hold them culpable for reasons they have no control over. BRAVO!
Yet we must do what we can to get them to complete these grades, and this was Angel’s reason for being in my class on a Wednesday… she wanted to complete her NX or just be out of her home…
‘So what’s your relationship like with your mom?‘
‘We’re distant.‘ she responds
Somehow I knew her answer before she would offer her sincerity.
She was among the few that would turn on her camera when in virtual class and the little I saw and heard allowed me to frame a better picture of her reality. There was an inaudible level of sound and little ones crowding the view alongside her, this was a ‘full house’.
It was indeed, a ‘crowded house’. There was no wonder why she would rather be in the building than home.
‘I know what that’s like. My grandmother wasn’t the warmest person. And I moved out as soon as I graduated high school, but I had a plan. I moved out because I knew what to do. I want you to have a plan and MOST IMPORTANTLY, do not worry about it UNTIL you are there, I know that your cousins care BUT it’s ultimately up to you. And it shouldn’t consume your thoughts until you’re closer to the finish line. Why worry about something you can’t do anything about? ….. Right now? Worry about completing your credits so you can graduate and be successful.’
To think this child has her classes to think about, her NX classes as well in order to be on track, add the probability of becoming homeless because she may not be wanted as soon as she turns 18, yet still enrolled in school.
Truth is that Angel at first glance looks like she could be an adult. She fills her skin beautifully and if it weren’t for her shy demeanor and limited knowledge when she expresses herself, you wouldn’t guess she’s a young girl in need of guidance.
And like her there are hundreds, thousands more that ‘look’ as if they are ‘grown’ yet are not. They have been born into situations where they are held hostage. Hostages because even though they cannot control their environment as all other children, in their case, compassion and love is lacking.
Compassion and Love warms the heart of the captor and allows, even compels them to approach, treat and care for the prisoner. While this isn’t even questioned when it comes to ‘normal’ parents, sadly there are parents that lack compassion and healthy demonstrations of Love towards their children. That famous scene in ‘Precious’ when the mother sniffles ‘who’s gonna love me?’; the ultimate sign of selfishness that should never exist in motherhood.
It takes more than shelter, food and clothing to produce a productive human being.
Regardless of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need’s which states they are the basic needs yet, as we evolve into a more AWARE society.. everyone clamoring for ‘feelings’ to be at the forefront of communication, let’s think more consciously about our children.
Are you raising an asset to the future society?
Or are the little ones in your life little hostages of your environment?