John Samuel Tieman: From “Ghetto Hawk — The Diary of Publius”
I held Sam after class today. He stared out the window and cried.
He tells me that he just wants to go home. We discuss his behavior. Sam knows his behavior is disruptive, but he hates his Ritalin because it makes him feel dead inside.
A week or so ago, his first decision was that he wouldn’t take his meds on Fridays, so he could have fun with his buddies after school. I warned him against this then.
But Friday was so much fun that he decides, for this whole week, he will not take his meds at all.
I ask about his folks. His mother kicked him out of the house and placed him in foster-care. The problem is that the current foster-mother is a drunk. Sam and his new foster-brother wait until she is asleep, and get into her liquor. Last night was the first time he had ever been drunk. He really liked it.
He’s 13. And he mourns the loss of his birth mother with a pain that only God can measure.
I just found out that Sam got busted for stealing a car. He is to be suspended for 180 days. I call this ‘the death sentence‘.
On an impulse, the other night he goes out and steals a Mercedes. (Why bother with a Toyota, right?) Then he goes home. After a hard night of ripping folks off, he oversleeps. He panics the next morning, but remembers he’s got a car. So he drives to school, and parks in the faculty parking lot. It is, after all, where everybody parks. Since impulse control is not Sam’s strength, it did not occur to him that the security guard might question a 12 year old driving.
Where does this kid get a break? His parents abandoned him. Foster care fails him. Now we expel him. And this kid is so clearly, clearly treatable.
After school, I see him outside, across the street, just looking at us. Just looking. I call to him. Sam says something in reply, something blurred by the sound of traffic. We smile. Camouflage smiles. But our eyes betray the depth of sadness and a distance, just a street, which our sadness cannot bridge.