Friday, April 5, 2013

I am not Superwoman....

....but I wish I was. Here's a quick list of the things I see and deal with every day at school, and keep in mind that all of these kids are 11 years old or younger:
-learning disabilites
-developmental delay
-fetal alcohol syndrome, or other prenatal drug exposure
-post-traumatic stress disorder
-unspecified psychological disorders
-DiGeorge Syndrome
-speech/language disorders
-oppositional defiant disorder

Additionally, several of my students have past histories of:
-premature birth
-physical abuse
-emotional abuse
-sexual abuse
-extreme neglect

Many of my kids have or do experience more than one of these, and one in particular, more than half of them. Some have a parent in jail. Some don't know who their daddies are. Some are foster kids. One first grader's mother died a couple of months ago. One has been in the hospital for a month due to complications from heart surgery. One stares blankly into your eyes with no acknowledgement at all that she hears you speaking. Two or three have hallucinations.

Have I mentioned that this is at school, and learning is supposed to happen at some point during the day there? Can you imagine telling a child, "Honey, I'm sorry Satan is following you. Let's go take your spelling test." I've learned a lot about a lot of different kids since August, and it makes me wonder how much has been going on under the radar that I've been missing--especially since many of our kids aren't capable of telling their middle names, let alone explaining their feelings or experiences. Some of them I want to hold and snuggle and listen to all day long, and others I desperately wish had a mute button, and sometimes I feel both at the same time for the same kid. Most of all, though, I wish I could take away all the terrible things that have happened to some of my babies.

Not all of them have such sad stories, and some whose stories start sadly have have bright spots, such as adoption from foster care. But their problems are not over. I love and appreciate all of my students, including or in spite of their quirks; however, it's hard not to wonder what could have been without the head trauma. Without the drug exposure. Without the neglect. Without the things that could have been prevented. I want to take away the hurts, make the flashbacks and nightmares and hallucinations and doubts and fears go away for good. These are my babies, and I want to hold on and never let go. I want to protect them from the world and from themselves.

When you ask me what I'm doing this weekend, don't be surprised to hear me say I'm going to nap. When you ask me what I'm reading in my spare time, don't be surprised to hear me list books on child psychology. Don't be surprised to hear that I don't know how many weeks, days, or hours until school is out--we go one day at a time. Don't be surprised to see a snot stain on my butt. Don't be surprised to hear me go from 0 to Teacher Voice and back before you can bat an eye. And when you ask when I'm going to have kids, don't be surprised to hear me say I already have 23.

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