Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hey, That's Mine! - Part 1

During my years as an Assistant Principal, in addition to running the day-to-day operation of the school, it was my job to encourage students to always be on their best behavior. Of course, being adolescents in this world, there were often issues that were brought to my office.

I suppose that I dealt with everything, including a broken pencil, missing homework, insubordination, fighting. theft, truancy, and sadly, the more nefarious acts of drug abuse and drug selling.

I had been working closely with a student named Bill. Bill always seemed depressed, withdrawn, always loitering with the wrong crowd, and seemingly always about to do something that he should not do.

As you might have guessed, Bill was always in trouble and he became a frequent visitor to my office. After I got to know him a little better, Bill shared with me that his mother had left the family several years ago and that his dad was mean. In short, he believed that nobody cared for him.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to keep Bill on the straight and narrow path, he would sometimes engage in behavior that would get him sent home. Every time that I called his dad, I was met with a verbal barrage of profanity and complaints about Bill. It was obvious to me that Bill’s dad was just as angry and depressed as Bill.

Over time, and after way too many phone calls home, I believed that I was making some headway with Bill’s dad. He began to soften a little bit and he began to share some of his struggles with me. He loved Bill, but he was still angry with his wife for leaving and he was always concerned about money.

Based upon his consistent behavior, I sensed that Bill’s dad had long ago turned to drugs or alcohol for solace. I believed that he had become more withdrawn from life and from Bill, thereby providing some of the roots for Bill’s feelings.

Despite many hours that I had spent with Bill and his father, one day I learned that Bill was in possession of marijuana. The soft part of me wanted to look the other way, thereby sparing Bill from a suspension and possible verbal abuse from his dad and I wanted to spare his dad from further bad news.

However, the responsible part of me took over and I launched an investigation. Sure enough, Bill had the goods and I had to haul him to the office. When I asked Bill why he would ever be in possession of marijuana, he told me that he was mad at his dad for ignoring him and this was his way of getting attention from his dad. He also shared his concern over the impending verbal abuse and possible physical abuse.

Primed to call the Police and Protective Services, I assured Bill that I would speak to his father and that everything would be O.K. I told Bill that if his dad made any threats, I would call the proper authorities.

(Please come back next Saturday for the conclusion).

Paul W. Reeves

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