Oh my good. I walked sweet pea up to the dam this morning for a dam walk and the irresponsible attack akita owner drove past us just as we got to the top of the dam. Without even looking directly at her I did not cross over towards the dam and instead headed towards the crumbling bridge to stroll the closed off street on the other side of the bridge. I was fuming for a while, which somehow made me sad and nostalgic and I started to think about the kids I had in my class the very first year I taught school. This kids are totally grown now, they're probably in their late 30's and I would love to just get a report on a them. I don't want anything from the kids (now adults) I would like to know they grew up okay.
This morning I was thinking about a boy named James. He was a big lug of a kid, pleasant enough, had no academic skills, could barely understand a word anyone said and clearly needed to be in a special ed class. He was one of about 4 or 5 kids in his family and the only kid in the family not in special ed. His mom really had her hopes pinned on poor James, maybe he was just the sweetest one, but there was no way this kid was going to make it in the general ed population. James was in my third grade class and he didn't know the alphabet. I think he had already been held over twice so holding him back was not an option. I knew James hated going down to lunch and used to let him come to the classroom for some extra help. One day I realized that James could not differentiate between rhyming letters, like B C D or E or A J and K and I asked "James, can't you hear the difference in their names?" And then James told me he had some kind of problem with fluid in his ears, which his mother was supposed to take him to the doctor to get them drained and never did, so mostly he could not hear me.
I went and got a sign language book and James finally, at age 11, learned the alphabet by signing the letters. The poor kid was so proud of himself that one day he walked me to the bus stop so we could keep signing the alphabet. At the bus stop there was always this tiny shriveled looking older guy who appeared to be homeless except he had a broom and would be sweeping the sidewalk outside the bodega which was right there behind the bus stop. The sweeping old guy stopped and observed James and me signing and singing the alphabet and he exclaimed something along the lines of "My son knows the alphabet! I never did get that down!" I was shocked that this was Big baby faced James' father. He looked like he could be his great grandfather. As far as I knew there was no father on the scene. James didn't even acknowledge the guy. It was weird.
Anyway, now that James knew the alphabet I figured I could unlock even more for him and I was so very excited. I'm pretty sure that James was excited too. I was ready to spend every lunch hour with this kid and looking forward to bringing him closer to speed. ( I had reasonable expectations) Then, not long after James' big breakthrough, one day when I was absent, James showed up at school with a switch blade razor thing that his older no good brother had given him. It turns out that James had been involved in some kind of long standing argument with a kid who would have been James' classmate if James had been in the special ed class where he belonged. At some point during lunch time recess in the school yard James pulled out the blade and tried to slice this kid's face open. Luckily for the kid he turned his head just in the nick of time and James only sliced open the hood of his jacket.
When I came back to school the next day I got an angry reception in the office where they showed me the sliced open hood. No one had ever mentioned any problem at lunch time to me, so I told them so, and also pointed out how I could not have possibly known about the weapon from my bed at home.
I never saw James again. He was declared a threat the other kids and banned from the school.