Sunday, April 26, 2009

Don't Let The Odds Beat You


Today I had to attend one of those heart-breaking meetings that, as a teacher, I must attend from time to time. One of my students was being expelled for an illegal action that occurred on school grounds. This young man had been in my class for two years. He was like so many other young people I know. He is a young man who is a follower because he desperately wants to be a “good friend.” The best way I can describe him is to say that if his three best friends were getting ready to jump off the highest cliff, he would watch as each one plunged to their death and then would feel that he then would also have to jump or risk not being a “real friend.”

These are the kinds of young men who wind up serving time in prison because their friend committed a felony and they were tagging along. Their friend might say, “I’m going to go rob that gas station tonight want to go with me?” Immediately their answer would be “Yes.” There is little to no impulse control and they don’t seem to carry the thought or action out to its logical conclusion. Much of it is youthful inexperience. Some of it is societal pressure. You want to fit in and fitting in might mean proving to your friends and quite possibly a female that you are “straight up gangster”.

I wanted to cry as I sat in the meeting. His mother sat there tears welling up in her eyes. When I spoke to her son I said, “I have been so proud of you lately. You were making straight A’s in my class. You were acting so responsible and really seemed to want to change your life.” Upon my saying that to her son, big heavy tear drops began coursing down her cheeks. I wanted to jump up and hug her. I told her son how proud I was that he had done so well on the High School Graduation tests. I said to his mother that it was breaking my heart that we are all here at this meeting but offered that perhaps this could be the starting point for her son. This could be the point where he realizes the people who he thinks are his friends really don’t have his best interest at heart.

As I said the words, I wanted to believe them. I also heard that they might sound shallow to someone who is watching her son’s future slip past him because he made bad choices. As a mother of two sons, myself, I wondered for the hundredth time, how was it that my boys were able to escape this destiny? After all I too had been a single mother. I had been on welfare for a period of time. How was it that my boys escaped the statistics that bode so poorly for kids in this situation. What had I done differently? Why was it that when my life was spinning out of control as a young girl did I not wind up in jail or worse?

After the meeting was over, I headed for class. A few minutes later the student and his mother appeared at my door. The young man hugged me and said, as he had a hundred times before, “I luh you Miz Cope.” “I luh you too. Please keep in touch. One day you will want to get a job or maybe go back to school and I’m willing to write you a letter of reference.”

His Mom stood off to the side. I apologized to her for having met her the way I did. We talked for a few minutes about what we both knew about her son. He, like so many other youths before and after him, will ignore the advice of adults who have been there before. He will have to learn things first hand and often more than once before they finally make a lasting impression on him.

I watched them leave through the side door. It felt sad watching him exit our school for the last time. He exits the door as another statistic. I just want to cry but I pray that I’m wrong. I pray that somehow he will turn this around and not stay a statistic. I want him to be a man who has beaten the odds and not a man beaten down by the odds.

The Mother's Day essay contests are starting to appear. I entered the 1-800-Flowers contest twice. In the past I've always been a finalist for this but not this year. I'm feeling pretty sad about that. I also entered this Mother's Day Essay contest:

The nine contest winners – one for each castle – will be announced on Friday, May 1, 2009.
The winners will each be awarded four tickets valid through Dec. 30, 2009.

I won an essay contest for Medieval Times earlier this year. We had an amazing time.

Here are the blog contests I entered today:

Prize: Five coupons each good for one free Häagen-Dazs 14 oz. product or package of Häagen-Dazs bars.

Prize: Bride Wars DVD and $25 Paper Shouts gift certificate.

Prize: Mixer gift basket with Betty Crocker mixing spoon, spatula, measuring spoons and cups, whisk, liquid measuring cup and Betty Crocker Magazine.

Prize: $50 gift card.

Prize: Crayola prize pack (ARV $80).

Prize: Saturday Night Live: The Complete Third Season DVD set (ARV $79.95).

Prize: Copy of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

Prize: $50 Photofiddle custom artwork gift certificate.

Prize: Kodak photo frame (ARV $800).

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