I did not have a good day today. Pinball Boy has found himself, despite my best efforts to work with him, headed towards alternative school.
I hate it when kids I adore end up going to alternative school. (Long time readers (all two of you) may remember Stoopid Boy.) It breaks my heart. However, there comes a time when it's out of my hands and, as Mr. Enforcer said, "I've got to think about the other 24 kids in the class."
We had been, I thought, making headway. Mom finally got him on some medication so the hyperactivity was under control (no more crawling on the floor and leaping through the hallways which was huge). His grades were improving. He was staying out of trouble - finally. However, January came and something happened. Instead of being the sweet, loving kid we knew, he was getting smart, surly, and argumentative. He stopped trying in school, and he told us all that the meds were out at home and he didn't know when Mom was going to get more. He was talking back and generally finding trouble anywhere he could.
This week he not only missed after school detention (which is an automatic suspension for one day) but gave two different substitute teachers fits when Miss Reading was out with the flu. It was the straw that broke the camel's back.
I was in guidance working on some grade stuff (I'm having to stay out of my room a bit so Mrs. Jayhawker, my student teacher, can teach without the kids thinking she's not in charge) when Mr. Enforcer came looking for me.
"I need your help with a hysterical kid," he said, with a pained look on his face.
"One of mine?" I asked.
"It's Pinball Boy. He's going to alternative school and he's having a melt down."
"So you want me to play mommy?" I asked.
Oh good gracious. Pinball Boy was a shaking, quivering, crying, sobbing mess. It took us quite a while to get him calmed down. He begged and begged and begged for just one more chance (honestly, he's a likable kid so he's been given a lot of chances, more than most, already). I ended up spending nearly an hour with him, getting him calmed down, talking with him about the pros of alternative school (the kids usually see a huge improvement in grades so he'll pass for the year), and how if he's really, really, really good they might send him back early (hey, it's happened).
What I really wanted to know was what happened last month that caused him to cease being the kid I knew and loved and turned him into a snotty little brat who didn't care about anything. And I finally - finally - got it out of him, in amongst the tears and the wails.
"My step dad got put in jail in January and mom works all the time and I never see her and I have to take care of all the little kids and I don't see my real dad enough!"