Friday, July 31, 2009

Nervousness About Camp

Some of the questions the littler boy has asked me. He's never been to camp; before and is a little nervous.

  • Do they have toilet paper?
  • Can I only go for one day?
  • Can I bring my DVD player?
  • Can I skip camp so I can watch my TV program?
  • Will they feed me?
  • Do they have Gatorade?
  • Are there girls?
  • Can I bring a chair?
  • Can I use your sleeping bag?
  • Does my brother have to go?
  • Are there bears?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

And.... Another Bad Decision

I had a lovely birthday dinner/dessert celebration tonight (birthday's on Monday) and was about ready to go to bed when I got a call. The 14 year old kid of the family I've been working with has been arrested. For drinking and driving. At age 14. (Barely).

His mom is, understandably, freaking out. She's been working as hard as she can to keep the family together. They have nowhere to live after August 31 and no money to find somewhere. She doesn't have a bank account or credit history so most places wouldn't rent to her even if she did have the money. She's a recovering addict trying to stay clean through both of her boys watching their friend be murdered, be in danger themselves, have to relocate, and deal with the anger/fear/guilt that comes from seeing a friend be killed. Now her oldest one is in bigger trouble.

I'm so angry at him, because he knows better. He took the car keys when she was sleeping and went with his cousin who was staying with them after the two of them had been drinking. He was driving without a license, at 14, while drinking, and drinking while underage. In a car that probably has no registration or insurance, and which his mom had just bought so that she could work and not be dependent on welfare. The consequences for this are going to be far-reaching.

I'm furious with him and I'm worried and I feel guilty, although I don't know why. I can't do anything and even if I could bail him out, I wouldn't because I think he needs to know the consequences but I'm really really worried. And I'm worried about what the family is going to do with no job, no money, nowhere to live, no car, and now this to worry about.

If you pray, please pray for this family and this kid. They need help.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Decisions children should be able to make:
  • Which outfit to wear on a particular day (if parents have bought the clothes)
  • What to eat for snack (if parents have chosen the options)
  • Which TV show to watch (with parental approval)
  • Which sport to play
  • Which flavor of toothpaste to use

Decisions children should NOT be able to make:
  • Which guardian to live with
  • Where it is safe for them to live
  • Which school they are going to go to
  • Whether they should go to school or not
  • If they get a cell phone or not
  • If their mom gets a cell phone or not
  • If they should be punished or have any consequences for being rude
  • What their parents should buy for them
  • If they should go to counseling or not

Guess which set is the set of decisions that I've seen kids make over and over and over. And over.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Poison Oak

That's the nickname of the younger kid I've been working with, "Luis." He's been going to the science day camp program at Chabot Space and Science center, and it is incredible. He wasn't sure he wanted to go last week, and his brother totally flaked out. Poison Oak, however (it's fun to type that) made it, although a day late. He had a stomachache on Monday, which I suspect was an excuse to not try something new/nervousness. On Tuesday, he was really nervous but he went. When I picked him up, he talked the whole way home about how much he loved it and how he couldn't even imagine being mad because he was so happy.

On Thursday, Luis told me he wanted to go again next week. I told him that we didn't have the money (my friend and I paid for half of the camp and Chabot gave him a scholarship for the other half) but that he could go next year. However, the next day, the director offered to transfer the amount paid for his brother so that Luis could go for another week. He loves it. He loves the science. He loves building robots and learning about dinosaurs. He loves being called "Poison Oak." He loves his teacher. This is a kid who does not love easily. If it were not an incredible program, he would let us know in no uncertain terms.

How often do you get to see a kid from the ghetto enjoying science camp with kids who go to a variety of private schools? It's pretty awesome.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Do They Teach You in School?

I've been watching some old Weeds episodes (don't question my taste in shows, it's entertaining) and I had to share this quote:

Uncle: Now, what do they teach you in school?

Kid: How to pass the weekly standardized tests to get the school more funding?

Oh, I wish that wasn't so funny for being true.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Something Good in the District

I promised I'd include a link to the trip to DC that was taken by my new favorite middle school in the district. Sounds like it was a great experience for everyone involved!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

WHEN are We Going to Stop...

...teaching kids who aren't white that they are worth less than white kids?

If you think this isn't affecting children, or that I'm a crazy liberal who's making too much of it, I suggest you work with children of color for a year and then report back. In the eight years I taught at the school in the inner city, I heard countless - and I actually mean countless - instances of kids complimenting each other on light skin, lamenting dark skin and kinky hair, talking about "good hair," talking about wishing they were white, commenting on how much prettier white people are, how much more money they have, how it's better to be white, how the police would treat them differently if they were white, how the school would be better if they were white kids...

I wish they were wrong.