What a troubled little boy

Teaching kids with learning and behavioral difficulties is fun but can be very challenging. Of course you learn how to over the years but it’s still not just your average nine-to-five job.

This year I have, generally speaking, a very sweet group of kids. Sixteen boys and girls, with an IQ averaging between 65 and 80. Of course they are more than their IQ but it gives you an impression of what they are capable of.

Most have a history. Something has happened to them or they have a background of illness.  None of them came to us unharmed, be it by their family background or by the school they came from.  I don’t mean  bodily harm necessarily, no physical abuse but some sort of abuse nonetheless.

They’ve been with us for some years now. I teach our grade 8, which is your grade 7 I think (they are eleven and twelve years old).  Over the years they have learned some skills but for some the difficulties remain.

One of the boys in my class is Mervin. I have definitely a soft spot for him. I had him in my fifth grade class and remember how he was. ADHD to the core. Impossible to concentrate, impossible to keep his mouth shut, very impulsive, communication skills are almost zero, below average intelligence and sometimes quite aggressive. He hasn’t changed a lot.

I also remember how I had talks with his mom (no dad in sight) about what Mervin needed …  help, most of all. Therapy. Mom ignored all warnings, stating he was a little lamb at home. Yeah, sure …

Finally I was able to get through to her – or so I thought – and we agreed she would seek advice at the Youth Help Program in our town. They have doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, therapists and it would be payed by her health insurance.  I gave her all the necessary papers, the address …

She never went.

Mervin went on to sixth grade, seventh grade … mom never sought help. Every teacher tried again, our school counselor tried, our School Welfare tried …  nothing. We were out of options …

Now he is in grade 8. Nothing has changed, other than that we now told her that if she chooses to ignore the help provided again we will call Child Protection Service and get them to take a look at the situation. To get them involved we need to have a complaint. In this case it will be “child abuse by neglect”.

I hate it that we have to take these drastic measures. But Mervin needs help  now, before he leaves our school. This is his last year with us (he will move on to our version of Middle School) and there life will be tougher for him.

In the meantime I try to make this years as nice as possible for him. He is the only boy in my class who really, really is difficult to deal with. And he still needs to learn a lot. But somehow I will make it happen …  he will leave school with nice memories.

Categories: School | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “What a troubled little boy

  1. This is so common, world wide! Who knows really the truth of the home life , the fears and reasoning of the mother, her history or even for being fatherless or not fathered and so forth. Hard when you have to look from the sidelines, hands tied an yet his behaviour affecting your work and the environment of your pupils so much. You have not only to be the teacher but family guidence counsellor – which really is not on your job description. But you have a heart for him and i know without doubt you are an encouragemet and a hope for him. Good onya’ Riete it is noice to see that some teachers see their work as more than a job evenn f often thankless! Maybe one day society will return to the sense of community and these difficulties will be shared not by just a few but all!!

  2. Your teaching responsibilities are unique in a way. Yes, all teachers need to have a bit of psychiatrist in them, but you have to take that a few steps further. Since I have a 13 year old son, one who seems to be benefitting from therapy and even meds, I understand the importance of teachers with your skill set.

    I have only known one person named Mervin — Mervin Spurgeon, the Barney Fife of the little town where I was raised. His family lived two doors down from my family. His daughter, Merleda, is my age. Mervin’s wife is named Leda Belle, thus naming their daughter by combining their first names. Their son is name Belvin. Seriously.

    • Sometimes you hear names and you can’t help thinking, “Poor kids!” LOL
      Dutch names are not so much a problem though. It’s the Antillean names that make life difficult …We have a large group of Antillean people here as the Antilles were (and still are for a part) part of the Netherlands. So we have these names in almost every class.
      Try Shenaiza, or Chenaya or Shavyrinyo … tongue tying names, LOL

  3. Riete, did you ever read “One child” by Torey L. Hayden? It’s a book that has stayed with me for many years. I read it as a teen and it strongly influenced my then desire to work with troubled children. You remind me of her in a way :)

  4. Hindsight is sometimes a hard thing to deal with. Some parents really stick their heads in the sand,for whatever reason, and it’s sad to see how it impacts their children and even the people around them. We say that the children we have at this school are our mirrors, and we’ll keep getting the same kinds of children until we learn the life lesson sent our way. :) Sometimes that’s a hard concept to accept but when you learn the lesson it feels great! Good luck to Mervin. And bless you for wanting to make his year special in a good way!

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