Today I was reminded why I want to spend my days with adolescent brats-- They aren't all brats.
One of our biggest "at risk" students or intentional non-learner student, or most likely to be sluffing/smoking/lying from last year did a complete turn around this year. I remember when she wanted to sign up for chemistry. We all scoffed at the idea. She, the straight F- student insisted, we finally relented to give her 1 term and then we would change her schedule to a more remedial class that she could perhaps pretend to care about and still not pass. Grades went out this week. She had straight A's. And almost perfect attendance.
Complete turn around.
I will admit that I was not thrilled when I realized that she was in my part of the alphabet. Tuesday I checked her grades and attendance and noticed that she had been marked unexcused abscent last week. I called her down to ask about it because that was uncharacteristic for her. Now if it had been last year? I would have been surprised if she had one day without an unexcused.
She has been court ordered to attend every single class, every single day and can only be excused with a doctor's note. She never cared. She would be in class for the week before she had to see the judge and show him her attendance record, then she would be gone again.
Life has thrown her some curve balls lately. Her home life is crumbling down around her and her parents are not being very mature about it. She has dealt with her mother's issues her entire life and she has had an attitude to prove it. And no one has ever been willing to help her or care because of it. I have made a point of telling her how proud I am of her change and how well she is doing. And I have cut her a little slack at times as a reward and let her know that it is only because of her efforts.
Today she called me from home. All that crashing life was too much today and she needed to stay at home and lay in bed and cry. I told her I would see what I could do because I was not sure how to excuse her absence without a medical note. But because I understood that she needed a break I would see what I could do. At one point in our conversation she, this tough "I don't need nobody" girl broke down crying because "finally someone gets is and isn't telling me to suck it up and get over it and cares about my feelings."
I tried. I really did. I talked to the vice principal. I checked her records. We chatted some more. He wanted to excuse it if she would promise to take only one day and then push through tomorrow. And he had no problem with me just excusing her if we did not have a copy of the court order. We had a copy of the court order. Legally I could not excuse her without a doctor's note.
I really did not want to call her back and tell her, but I had to. She was not happy about it, but she didn't swear, get mad, yell or even hang up on me and last year all of the above would have happened. She came up with a solution that while not the best thing, I think will work. She had been to the doctor the day of that unexcused abscence and she needed to call him to get us a note to excuse it. She was going to ask him to write one for today as well.
Here is what she is learning, her choices in the past are messing up her here and now and her future as well. And she is having to pay the consequences. But she is learning it and making wiser choices now. I am not sure how I feel about her asking the doctor for a note for today. In the strictest sense of the word, it is not completely honest with the judge. On the other hand, she needed a mental health day and those are just as important as physical health days. And she has been working so hard. I just wanted to reach through that phone and pull her into a hug, something I think she has not gotten from a mother for most of her life.
And she needs a mother that cares. (she asked me to find out about options for what she can do do help her mother with her "issues" and I know what they are but am deliberately not stating them- they are issues that no kid should ever have to deal with and shame on mom) I was willing to call her case worker and see what we could work out, but she is afraid that she will be removed from home if I do. I didn't feel that she is in harm's way by staying because mom has moved out so it is daughter and dad and newly returned missionary brother (a big influence in her turn around).
I need to chat with her counselor tomorrow, but I am not sure how much help he is going to be, he is of the suck it up and get over yourself type of counselor with everyone- no matter what.
But her needing help and learning and growing and asking for that help reminded me that I am willing to spend my days with adolescents.