Monday, March 28, 2011

Time to Grow Up

During my service hours this week I learned a little about the personal lives of my scholars. Learning more than the answers my students give to the academic lesson helps give me a better understanding of what kind of person they are. The little details that I know about them helps me view the way they see the world. I therefore will be able to relate to them better and teach them things that they can better relate to. Though I thought that the typical middle school student’s interests consisted of recess and dessert, I was surely wrong.

When teaching my group of scholars a literature lesson I noticed that two girls were off on the side not paying attention a 3-4 page handwritten letter. I asked one of the girls about it later to find out it was a letter that she stole from her sister written by her boyfriend. I didn’t ask anything else and she went on to tell me that her sister had a baby. She told me she was 18-years-old and they baby boy lives with her, her mom, and her sister. She continued to tell me how the boyfriend isn’t around often which I assumed what the long letter was about.

I immediately thought how careless this girl was and how she was not brought up right because she was irresponsible and got pregnant at such a young age. It confused me because I had so many questions. I wanted to know how two people could be so careless? How a father could not want to be involved in his child’s life? And what was going to happen to a baby being brought up by a child herself? I then realized I assumed these awful thoughts because of the way I was brought up. I grew up in a town where it would be the biggest news if a girl got pregnant in high school. I was taught the correct order of my life was college, career, marriage, and then children. The poem, Directions for Resisting the SAT’s written by Richard Hague focuses on not following norm and breaking the rules a little to stand out. I don’t think I could never have the strength to stand out and disobey rules I have been taught like what my student’s sister did and raise a child at my age. She was not afraid to take the plunge and care for a newborn even though it was not the plan. I looked at this girl whose family has probably been through so much and my heart went out to her because sometimes the directions in life take a wrong turn and you just have to go with it like Richard Hague says.

As she continued to talk about her little nephew I was happy about this birth instead of more concerned if it was morally right to have a baby at 18. I was rejoiced that this family was nothing like that in “A Father,” written by Bharati Mukherjee, where a girls own father killed her unborn child. This student’s family is a good family because they accepted the fact that there was going to be a new member of the family rather than reject it like this father did. It is better to the teenager who stands out by raising and loving baby rather than have a father figure who does not know how to love.

After reading some of the letter I thought more about the situation. I was not there to judge these children and their families. I was there to help and to make a difference. I relate my aiding to those from the “Serving up Hope,” written by Stephanie Shapiro, story. These two restaurant owners take in drug addicts off the street who have not had such great pasts and give them a chance to turn things around and get back on their feet. I am here for these children to turn them around if they are on their way down the path of making mistakes in life. I am scared for this student because I hope that she doesn’t follow down the same road as her sister. I am there to teach these girls that college is the ideal choice for and 18-year-old woman not caring for a newborn.

After understanding this situation I can see how much my input is necessary for these students. These kid’s interests are maturing by the second and it is scary to see how fast they want to be adults. Their actions are similar to those in the poem “The First Practice,” written by Gary Gildner because they know their life starts now and they are anxious to begin it. Whether it be with boyfriends/girlfriends, driving a car, or being independent, they are ready and heading full force to do it all. With guidance from their mentors they hopefully will start it off in a smart way. Learning this student’s story gave me a better idea as to what maturity level they are on. It gave me an insight into their world and how fast they are growing up. This has helped me because I know that I can relate to them on a more mature level. They are itching to be adults so I am just here to help they grow up into the best person they can be.

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