Thursday, February 26, 2009

HEART SICK

I tutor one student who kills all the hope in my heart. After two weeks of missed sessions, someone actually answered the door when I knocked last night. I walked into a kitchen filled with the detritus of half eaten food and strewn garbage. The kitchen chairs had disappeared and there was too much junk on the table to consider using it to teach someone to read.

Stepping over the garbage with the lazy nonchalance only an adolescent can muster, my student led me to the living room, which was just as bad as the kitchen. Empty pop cans crowded the end tables flanked by sentinels of heavy drinking; beer and whiskey bottles. Cigarette butts littered the room like confetti and the stale smoke invaded my lungs. During our session, a Glade air freshener sprayed every thirty minutes, like a sigh of regret, in an effort to make everything smell like roses.

I perched on a wooden chair and my student threw himself on a slumped couch that had probably witnessed the premiere of Miami Vice in the 80s'.  We used a broken kitchen chair as a table and over the next two hours, my student demonstrated an astonishing capacity to forget everything he had learned. More than a month of tutoring and he was stuck at a pre-primer reading level, still trapped by dyslexia and learned apathy.

He wants to go to college to major in wrestling. He has not picked up a book since...ever. The gaping canyon between these two facts feels insurmountable.

And then things got worse. The run-a-way sister breezes into the house with her boyfriend. In a back room, they have a loud discussion about baby names. She appears to have met her goal of not coming home until she was pregnant. She is sixteen.

"When is your sister due?" I asked.

"August."

"That must be exciting, " I said because what else do I say about a life that is doomed before its first breath?

At home, I stripped off my clothes and immediately threw them in the washing machine wishing I could wash off more than just the stench of cigarette smoke.

7 comments:

septembermom said...

It must break your heart to see a child trapped in that kind of environment. There are too many children in those kind of horrible living situations. I worry about how their very childhood is killing their spirit to grow, learn and love. Commend yourself for trying to help someone so trapped.

Midwest Mommy said...

Wow, so heart breaking! I feel so bad for that unborn child.

Jenners said...

I can't even imagine living this way. I can't even imagine the life of the baby that will soon be born. I admire you for trying to work with this child -- you never know, it might somehow make a little difference somewhere down the line. I offer up a little prayer for them and all who are trapped in the same hard sad life.

Mrs.Flabby and Unfabulous said...

The good thing about hope is that no matter how small the spark. It tends to linger. Sometimes seemingly hidden, yet it is there. If your student let you in, there is hope. If he tries, there is hope. Perhaps you are his hope. While you feel there is none, perhaps to him you are what he hopes for.

The very fact that you try and don't give up on him is enough. Keep trying and watch for your miracle to manifest. It will.
Mrs. F

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