FILTHY…

Several years ago, Molly and I were at Wal-Mart. I stopped and embraced an unusually dirty young man. I hadn’t seen this kid for several years. When we parted, Molly innocently asked, “Mom, was that guy homeless?” I laughed. “No, he just was at work.” At work… I was so happy to see him; to know he had a family; he had a job; he seemed happy. I first met this kid when he was in junior high. He was quiet, angry and seemed untouchable.  He disappeared pretty quickly- he was transfered to an alternative school. I had his brother the year before. I had a rapport with him. He started his school year right after being in a car accident that took the life of his friend. The friend was supposed to be in my class too. They had taken his father’s car for a joyride and wrecked it. I tried really hard to help him that year. Where do you picture yourself in 5 years? “Prison…” unfortunately he was right…The young man I hugged at Wal-Mart came back to my class his 8th grade year. He had long hair, was quiet, and not angry, but he refused to do his work. He had a smart, sweet girlfriend, but school didnt motivate him. After a few weeks, I dropped a note on his desk. He read it. I know things have been pretty rough. I want you to know that I care about you and your siblings. I am here if you need anything. I will do anything I can to help you graduate, but you have to try too… slowly he started to do his work. I was kind to him. He never talked to me as much as his brother had, but he was trying.  All the 8th graders had to write graduation speeches.  They used numbers instead of their names so the judges would choose fairly. I know his girlfriend probably wrote his speech. I encouraged the kids to ask for help. They just couldn’t copy a speech from someone else. He was chosen to deliver his speech at graduation. Some of the teachers were horrified….I should have never allowed his speech to end up as a top contender. He was not an example of the type of kid who delivered the graduation address. I was tickled pink! I ran up to him to deliver the good news. He was very nervous, but he gave the speech that night. Never was I more proud. Later when he was in high school, I received a letter from him thanking me. I also received a letter from his brother from a jail in southern Illinois.  They both recognized and thanked me for caring. The brother in jail apologized that he didn’t do better with his life. They had a rough childhood. It was up to them to try to crawl out of that hole. I was just a little piece of it. I don’t think the majority of us have any idea how awful some of these kids truly have it…

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