I have a girl in one of my classes who is pregnant. She also has little – very little, by my understanding – siblings at home. She also has a mom who works and no other adult in the house. And so, as is too, too common with kids in less-than-awesome situations, she’s called on to babysit her siblings while her mother works, even if that means she has to miss school to do it. Add this to times that she misses school for doctor appointments, and you have a young lady with already too many absences in the fourth week of school.
I talked to her last week about it and she said, “Well, I talked to my counselor about it and they said that if I miss more than five classes and I’m still passing, I’ll be OK, but if I miss more than eight classes they’ll drop me. And I just think that’s too bad, you know? I mean, I do the work, but if they want to drop me, that’s their problem.”
And I said, “No, honey, that’s your problem. It’s not a matter of them wanting to drop you, it’s a matter of you needing to be in school in order to pass classes and graduate and the fact that the state requires students to attend a certain number of hours. You need to do that. Your baby girl needs you to do that.”
“Yeah,” she said. “I mean, I am doing the work, even if I’m not here. But if they want to drop me, that’s their problem.”
Sometimes, there’s no getting through to people, you know?
Anyway, today I’m talking to my class about these short essays they’ve been working on and we traded them for peer review. Mama raises her hand and asks what I’m talking about. As it turns out, she was absent the last two days when everyone else was typing and didn’t check on line for the work. So today, while everyone else is two steps ahead of her, she’s finally writing her essay.
I am sorry for her, really I am. I’m sorry that she’s stressed about school and that she’s pregnant before even turning 18 and that she has life stuff at home that she has to take care of and I’m sorry for my role in this situation. I know that she is in a position to be mad at a lot of people that aren’t her and I know that she feels targeted and like no one is giving her a chance or a break and that things are harder than they should be. And to a degree, she’s right.But she’s also wrong, in that she made the choices that got her here and her mother made choices before her that got her here and those choices – all of them – are things I can’t change and can’t fix and can’t do anything about.
In the end, she will likely be dropped from at least my class – maybe more. And since the baby is coming at the end of next quarter, my guess is that means she won’t return to school next quarter…or probably the quarter after that. Maybe we’ll see her fourth quarter? Maybe she’ll come back next year?
These are the things I wish I could fix, could have some power to change.