Friday, November 27, 2009

When Parents Stick Their Heads in the Sand

We have a girl on the team who has incredible potential but is probably one of the most messed up kids I've seen in a long time.

The fact that I didn't even meet her until the fifth day of school, because she was in ISS during the first four days, was an indication of trouble to come. Academically she should be an A and B student, but is getting by with C's and D's.

The kids all think she's nuts. They'll come right out and say it if you ask where she's at (often I see her in the morning, but she'll do something to get in trouble and end up in ISS).

"Oh, Crazy Girl, she's up in ISS," they'll say to my inquiries. "She's nuts! She's just crazy." Now, in middle school, when your peers think you're crazy, chances are that there's something off somewhere.

We had a meeting, called by Mom, early in the year which was a bit odd in itself. Mom is going to college so she isn't home a lot, but Crazy Girl has both parents (biological dad is in the picture which is almost unusual these days), and they live in an area in the rural part of our county along with a lot of their kin in the same neighborhood. "She's never by herself," Mom assured us. "She has lots of love and support from her parents, her grandparents and lots of aunts and uncles." Mom didn't understand the dark eye makeup, the defiant attitude, the refusal to do work, the mood swings. Mom nervously giggled during the entire meeting and Crazy Girl sat there and sulked until we asked her to leave so we could talk to Mom in private. Mom didn't seem to get that there were problems out there, much more than academic.

Like Crazy Girl's obsession with the really bad boys in school - she's drawn to the kids that ooze hatred and trouble. Her latest was a boy she met in ISS (and passed some incredibly graphic notes to explaining the various sex acts she was willing to do with and for him). He's been sent to alternative school and she's been trying to get there ever since. Prior to his removal, she ended up in ISS a number of times for groping and kissing him in the hallway.

Another weird habit of hers is that she hangs on kids. It's kind of hard to explain without a picture, but she'll literally drape herself over her friends' backs and hang on them. She's very touchy - always grabbing at her girlfriends, hugging, holding hands, and hanging on them. So much so that Mrs. Social Studies asked me in the hall one day if I thought that perhaps Crazy Girl was a bit confused over her sexual orientation.

And then there are the days that she's absolutely wild and manic prior to lunch, and then almost falling out of her chair, woozy, and incoherent after lunch. Substance abuse? Stealing mom and dad's meds out of the bathroom? Hard to say, and I simply type up another referral to guidance to have the counseling pros check it out.

And she's a cutter.

I had heard from guidance that we were getting a few kids who had had issues with cutting in sixth grade. From what we were able to tell, most of these kids had stopped cutting and were dealing with life a lot better. Not Crazy Girl, however. She has, from the first day I've seen her, cut herself, on the face, of all places. You actually have to look fairly close to see the cuts, but they are there and they are definitely caused by a razor blade.

So, this last week, Crazy Girl cursed out a substitute teacher and ended back in guidance and Mr. Enforcer finally decided that she'd earned herself a ticket to alternative school. Where, I hope, she and the boyfriend don't get put in the same room together - however, if they do, it won't take long before they do something really stupid and find themselves expelled. Crazy Girl spent most of the day in guidance waiting for her parents to come in and meet with Mr. Enforcer.

Which gave the Guidance Goddess and Guidance Diva a lot of time to observe some really odd behavior.

"I think that kid needs a therapist in the worst way," said Guidance Goddess. "She's crying and sobbing one minute, giggling and laughing the next. And every time we gave her something to eat, she'd go into the bathroom and throw up. Heavens she's probably bulimic."

I had to agree with her. This is one troubled kid. I checked with Mr. Enforcer at the end of the day to find out what was going to happen with her.

"She's got 30 days in alternative school," he said, shaking his head. "Her parents are just clueless about what's going on with this kid. It's so sad. Do you realize that her mom thinks those cuts on her face are from the family cat?"

This absolutely stunned me. Those cuts look nothing - nothing! - like cat scratches. And they've been there for months, in the same exact place.

I feel so bad for Crazy Girl, and for her parents. They want to believe that everything is fine because all their other kids are fine, they have a nice nuclear family, and everyone is fed, clothed and cared for. However, something is missing in Crazy Girl's life, or she wouldn't be engaging in such self-destructive behavior. I hope and pray that she gets some help soon, because she's on a dangerous path.

But if parents keep sticking their heads into the sand kids like her won't get the help they need.


Elizabeth said...

This just breaks my heart. I hope that her parents, since they seem to be supportive, will get her some real help. I would wonder if there wasn't some sort of sexual abuse (past or present) going on, based on her odd and extreme behavior.

ChiTown Girl said...

This is one of the saddest things I've read in a long time. I pray she gets the help she needs.

C.L. Smith said...

I just discovered your blog and am reliving SO many heart-rending moments from my own teaching experiences (when I was still teaching, of course!!). Love your writing style and the stories you tell!

Ms Characterized said...

I agree with Elizabeth...are there any more steps to take for this poor girl? I hope she gets help.

HappyChyck said...

Wow! She is one hot mess. How do these poor kids get so messed up? I have to wonder what Elizabeth is wonderings, too.