Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Lost Boys (and Girls)

I didn't need 35 minutes on Tuesday to make home contact because home contact has become part of who I am. I was once instructed to teach special education, and though in addition to being totally unqualified I was not very good at it, I learned a lot. The first thing I learned was that home contact was not optional. I've carried that with me, and my kids know that whatever language they speak, someone who speaks it will call their home if they break my heart. I'm very sensitive, so that happens often.

I hate it when kids come late to my class. I think that's something left over from my years in the trailer, when the bell would ring and I'd have to run like hell. I (almost) always made it, so I don't feel all that sorry for 15-year-old kids in better shape than I am who can't manage. Actually, once in a while anyone can be late. But when it's regular, I don't buy it. If I can do it, so can you.

Sometimes I discover odd things when I call. I find that kids live with guardians. Sometimes it's an uncle or a sister, and that's usually not a problem. Other times it's someone who's paid to care for the kid. What's odd in these cases is that people who take money to do this job often fail to find the job interesting enough to do. People ask, "What can I do?" I suppose they could stop taking money. It's tough to deal with teenagers. If you can't do it, you shouldn't take money for it.

Sometimes I find that kids are in group homes run by religious institutions or religious leaders. I'm particularly horrified by this because it seems to me if you're presenting yourself as religious you ought to have a higher standard. I've called places like this that simply do nothing, and are shocked when I call making demands on them. I've spoken through translators with lackeys, who tell me about all the important things the religious leaders do and how they haven't got time to bother sending kids to school, or checking where they go when they leave the place.

But whether the place is religious or not, it's pretty basic that if you take money to care for kids, you care for kids. Some people will say well, the kids are grown and ought to take responsibility. That's fine. But what if they don't? There's a reason we don't call kids adults until they're 18, and like it or not, plenty of kids fail to magically turn adult on their 18th birthdays.

I understand that there is this concept of the American Dream, and that a lot of people come here for it. I honestly do not understand sending your 14-year-old daughter to live with strangers and hoping for the best. I know a lot of people pay a lot of money for such services. But unless their kids are incredibly mature and intelligent, it's an awful idea.

I feel like calling up the parents in their home countries and telling them they aren't spending their money wisely. I wonder whether I'd get in trouble for that.
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