Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Three Little Girls January 22, 2010

Filed under: Teaching — Jen @ 5:56 am

I had lunch with three of my students today.  One is particularly sweet and basically a perfect child.  Let’s call her Ashley.  Another one is really sweet and I think gifted but often does her own thing, and I have suspected there are some issues at home.  Let’s call her Karly.  The other girl is like a 16-year-old trapped in a 6-year-old’s body.  She has the biggest attitude I’ve ever seen in a young child – always rolling her eyes at me and smacking.  She is pretty consistently in a bad mood and is often mean to other kids.  Let’s call her Kenyatta.

Innocent questions about their families turned into this conversation:

Ashley:  My daddy doesn’t live with us.  He in jail.  He broke the law.

Me:  Do you get to visit him?

Ashley:  Yes.

Me:  How’s he doing?

Ashley:  Good.  He gets to play basketball and football behind his school.

Karly:  I never visit my daddy in jail.  …He was selling crack.  And weed.

Kenyatta:  Oooooh, you said two bad words.

Me:  Karly, how many brothers and sisters do you have?

Karly:  I had three brothers.

Me:  How old are they?

Karly:  One is seven.  One is 13.  And one is dead.

Me:  Oh no, how did he die?

Karly:  He jumped off the roof.  He was fixing the roof.  He was 19.

Kenyatta:  My brother was walking to the store and someone shot him in the back of the head 17 times.  He was 18.

Karly:  Someone shot my baby sister all up and down her body.  She was bleeding everywhere.

Me:  But she’s okay?

Karly:  Yes.

Me:  Who shot her?

Karly:  My daddy friend.

Karly:  My sister was kissing a boy.

Kenyatta:  Yeah, my momma saw her kissing a boy.

Karly:  Everyone say she had sex with that boy.

Kenyatta:  Oh that a nasty word.  You cain’t say that!  Not in front of the teacher!

Karly:  (completely unfazed)  They say they had sex.  He say they did.  She say they didn’t.

Me:  How old is your sister?

Karly:  Eleven.  That boy is 15.

I live in a different world than these kids, only 15 minutes away.  In many ways I feel like I adapted to Mozambican culture more easily than this culture.  I don’t understand the world they live in.  I don’t know how to begin to understand what it’s like to be six and know these things about the world.  And I don’t know how to respond.

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2 Responses to “Three Little Girls”

  1. Kacie Says:

    Wow. “little” girls. Amazing.

  2. Brooke Says:

    i know it feels really hard jen. but it makes me feel relieved that they get you to be their teacher – that it’s you sitting by them at lunch hearing all this. i know you can’t fix any of it, but just being you and being their teacher – that’s something meaningful right there. you have His spirit in you (God’s, btw, not MLK Jr’s) and that MEANS something. i will try to pray for you in this job my dear friend.


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