Sometimes children are known for exaggerating circumstances, especially those children in middle grades. Hormones and peer pressure can do strange things to a child’s brain. You really have to listen carefully and try to discern what is true and what is not. Even if you have years of experience you can be completely wrong in your assessment. I know I was.
I had a young man about eleven years of age in my class, I will call him Tim. Tim is kind of scruffy looking, often wore the same clothes, really thin. He often made decisions that would get him in trouble. One day I asked if he wanted me to call his mom about his attendance. He said it wouldn’t matter. It would just give her another reason to hit him. I just looked at him, but I didn’t call.
Usually when a child has two homes, mom’s and dad’s, more often they will live with mom. Usually, dad is out of the picture and has another family. In this case, both parents are well educated and they share custody.
On another occasion, Bill told me that he was glad he was able to get lunch at school, because his mom never had any food in his mom’s house. Bill would laugh and cut up about how he couldn’t stand to visit him mom, because she didn’t care about him. Again, he mentioned that she like to hit him in the head.
I don’t get some parents. Children should be something you want, not a by-product of sex. There are many ways to not get pregnant. But, if you have a child and the marriage ends in divorce, it is not the child’s fault. Even if the child reminds you of the other parent, they are not the cause of your problems.
Tim came in this past week and told me that his mom took away his phone and locked him out of the house. He was only wearing a t-shirt and jeans (no shoes). This was December and the temperature was in the low 40s. He finally got a neighbor to contact his dad and his dad came and got him. The police came and arrested his mom. I asked what his dad was going to do and he said that he went to court and was trying to get full custody.
Hooray for dad, but why didn’t he see what was going on before now? Why didn’t I see what was going on? I only see him for forty-five minutes a couple times a week, but why couldn’t I see it?
The more I teach and the more I deal with the foster care system, the less I understand about people. Everything is more important than their children: their addictions, their drugs, their alcohol, their other families. Kids come in last in most cases.
In the foster care system, the average time that a child is in the system has gone from 1 year to 2 years. This is due usually to extra chances for the birth parents to make some right decisions. It doesn’t work
We really need to come up with a system to deal with parents who abuse or neglect their kids. What we have now rewards the parents. When are we going to wake-up? No one seems to realize it, but the kids are our future. They learn to treat people by the way they are treated. We have to do a better job of raising our kids.
***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.