Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Take Care of Your Kid, Already

Every day my fifth period class comes into my room, puts their things down on the tables, and then we line up to go to lunch. And every day Lunch Boy is standing at the head of the line, and just a bit to the side because his job (for some reason) is to "walk with Mrs. Bluebird."

I'm not sure where this comes from. In the past (last year comes to mind when I had the Lunch Group From the Very Depths of Hell Itself) I've used the "walking with teacher" bit as a way to control a kid who can't control himself or herself in line. It's either shape up or walk with Mrs. Bluebird. It usually works. For some reason, this year Lunch Boy has decided that he needs to walk with me, and not with the class, on the way to lunch. I think, honestly, that he wants a grown up to talk to.

Because his parents don't give him one bit of attention. At all.

Our conversations usually run like this.

"How's your day been?" I'll ask him.

"Oh okay," he'll say. And he'll mention something that happened in math or some gossip about some other kids (I learn a lot from this kid).

I'll then ask about lunch. "So, you have money in your lunch account?"

"No, not today. I asked them (them being his parents) for money last night and they forgot again."

"So, what are you planning on eating?" I'll ask. "Did you pack anything?"

"Oh, probably nothing," he'll say again. "Mom won't make me a lunch." At this point I'll remind him that we have crackers and apples for the kids with no money or lunch and all he has to do is ask the lunchroom aides for help and they'll take him aside and at least give him a piece of fruit.

This is a daily ritual with us. He never has lunch money in his account. He currently owes $9 in charges on his account and has been cut off by the cafeteria management. We have sent home several forms to request free and reduced lunch and although Lunch Boy says they've been returned, no one has any record of them ever coming back. (We doubt they've been returned. In fact, we doubt they've been filled out. We suspect that the family may not qualify.) Mr. Math, his homeroom teacher, has called and left message after message about the fact that Lunch Boy is not eating lunch and needs money in his account, and has never, ever received a return phone call.

And the Lunch Boy will make comments about his mom playing video games. "Oh Mom was busy playing World of Warcraft again yesterday," he'll say. "She's too busy playing on the computer to give me lunch money."

I am so sick and tired of this nonsense. It is absolutely ridiculous that this kid is going hungry. If his parents can't afford to feed him, there's a program out there to make sure he's fed. In fact, none of our children in school should be going hungry. So really there's no excuse for the fact that every day this kid is not eating lunch (and goodness knows about breakfast).

If the reason he isn't eating lunch is because mom and day are too busy playing video games, then that's just insane. And irresponsible. And just downright beyond belief.

But part of me is thinking that it just might be the truth.


Unknown said...

If he's really not getting money or food, this isn't just "Take Care of Your Kid". This is neglect. How has an administrator not been informed and then called or gone to the home? This is neglect. These parents should be reported. This is tragic.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Ah, The Principal is involved, as is guidance, trying to get to the root of this. Problem is, this doesn't qualify - yet - for a DSC call on several levels. The kid is clothed, clean, isn't malnourished - he just owes a lot of money to the cafeteria and parents aren't paying so he isn't eating cafeteria food. He says he does eat at home. My experience, sadly, is that unless a kid has actual physical/sexual abuse, DSC won't even make a phone call. They are simply overwhelmed.

Invisible Teacher said...

In CA, you can call and make a "Report of Information". This is just information that starts a case file. The purpose is to build evidence when there isn't enough to justify a visit by a social worker. When other people call in as well, they will already have a file started and will be more likely to investigate. Maybe your state has the same thing? (I don't know where you are...)

ChiTown Girl said...

This is just ludicrous! I wish Principal could leave them a message sort of like, "If you don't remedy this situation immediately, or at least call the school to speak to me, I WILL be placing a call to DCFS!" I know he can't, but wouldn't it be great if he could. Maybe then the slugs would get their lazy asses up from the computer and take care of their kid!! Ugh! Stories like this infuriate me!

Sarah said...

So sad! Why do people have kids and not take care of them? I see it way too much too!

Margaret English said...

That is utterly heartbreaking. What sort of people are his parents? Selfish, lazy bastards. He is probably a nice kid and you are right when you say that he needs some attention from an adult.