SOL: Papa’s Got a Brand New … Rosary?

Break time at the Ed Center is often the time when my old students come upstairs to check in with me, and tonight is busy.  First Benny comes up to ask how my weekend was and to apologize for missing class this morning.  Haila comes for a hug and a kiss, followed immediately by Noemi.  It’s taken me a while to figure out that Noemi wants a hug and a kiss, too, but won’t come at me with arms outstretched the way the others do.  I have to make the first move.  No problem.  I’m happy to hug her.  Then Manny comes in to share his angel smile and say, “Good evening, Miss Stacie.”  (That boy could not be any cuter.)

And then Jeovany comes to the door.  He is happy tonight, bouncy and smiley, styling in a white cable watch cap and his big parka. “Miss, I got something new.” (I am so afraid that when he says something he means girlfriend that I just can’t ask.) He pulls down the neckline of his t-shirt and reveals a piece of a new tattoo.  Then, before I have a chance to respond, he pulls up his shirt and gives me a more complete view.  He has a big rosary tattooed around his neck and down his chest. “Where’s your camera?” (This isn’t a weird, random, exhibitionist question from him.  I am fascinated by tattoos in general, and by my students’ tattoos in particular, and I have taken photos of them in the past, including two of Jeovany’s.  Now, it is true that those photos are of his arms, not of his bare chest … )

Rebecca is in the doorway and asks to see the rosary, so he turns to show her then gives me a hug and leaves.  Rebecca tells me she has eight tattoos. “I keep them hidden,” she says, closing the door.  I think she’s closing the door to tell me more about her very difficult current living situation.  But no, she proceeds to show me all eight of her ‘hidden’ tattoos … which involves baring her extreme lower back, her upper back, her right shoulder and both thighs.  No, I’m serious.  She undoes her pants and shows me the two tattoos she has on her right thigh and the one on her left.  “Excuse me a second,” she says as she unbuckles her belt to get her pants down. I don’t think I’ll be photographing Rebecca’s body art.

This is too weird to me.  True, I don’t have any tattoos, but if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be taking off my clothes to show my teacher! I suppose on the one hand I am glad they feel so comfortable with me … but at the same time, I might like to move the boundary line just a few feet away!

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6 thoughts on “SOL: Papa’s Got a Brand New … Rosary?

  1. molly

    Trust is trust. If they have a health, life or emotional problem, no matter how delicate, they know you are there and you can be trusted. Do you realize how precious that is? Congratulations, and lucky them.

  2. I think it’s great they have so much trust in you. I used to work for a Youth Services Agency as a residential counselor. We were always instructed to “keep [our] distance” emotionally and physically. It was always really hard because I really enjoyed a lot of the teenagers that lived in the group home. And at the time I wasn’t really that much older than them; I was in my mid-20’s. There were moments when I just wanted to give one of them a big, old hug but I wasn’t allowed. It sounds to me like your students really trust and look up to you. I think it’s nice that there aren’t ridiculous restrictions on displays of affection at your school.

    I was thinking, though, a large tattoo of a rosary? Please tell me it was one of those fake tattoos and not a real one. And one of your students has eight already? I have one tattoo and I regret getting it. And now I will really show my age: Kids these days!!!

  3. Thanks, Molly and Gwen. I know how valuable it is that my kids are able to trust me, that they feel comfortable with me. I’m glad that know I’m one of the good guys. Their level of comfort with me is still very surprising, though. (I did draw then line when my former student Valerie wanted to show me the stitches on her nipple after her recent surgery!)

    And the rosary? It’s a real tattoo. Yeah. They’re all inked up, my kids. I can’t imagine it. I hope they’ll still like looking at them 40 years from now!

  4. I don’t get this notion of body art. My young manicurist Molly, offered me a tattoo compliments of her artist friend. She was sure I would be totally into it, after all I loved theater and it was the trademark of Les Mis.
    Nope, I had the t-shirt, why did I need it to be permanent?

    Of well, I can’t get everything…
    But good story Stacie,
    Bonnie

  5. It’s more the number of tattoos that surprises me. I have a total love-hate fascination with tattoos, and — if I weren’t such a complete baby about pain — I’d surely have gotten one by now … and maybe I’d already be sorry about that, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that I’d never have eight, however.

  6. I totally agree on the love/hate attitude towards tattoos. I would NEVER allow my minor child to get a tattoo. On the other hand, if my daughter decided to get one as an adult I would have zero problems with it. I guess I feel that permanently marking ones body is a decision best made as a grown up. Sometimes I question the wisdom of our society in declaring an 18 year old an adult, though.

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