I pulled out my notebook and pen while my class was writing essays today. I sat with two of the younger men in the group, hoping my very close presence would help them get a little focused on the work. The two students, Joseph and Eduardo, have a hard time staying focused on any task, but yesterday I noticed that Joseph worked quite well and easily when I sat right next to him talking with him about the math. So I wanted to see if that was some wacky fluke or if one-on-one might be a key that would work more than once. I sat beside Joseph, but it was Eduardo who perked up when he saw I was writing. As soon as he saw my pen and paper, he wanted to know what I was going to write.
“I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet.”
“You should write about me.” This is Eduardo, a shy, shy young man who reveals so much of himself even as he works so hard to stay hidden.
“What should I write about you?”
“About why I haven’t been coming to school.” Which is true: he hasn’t been in class much lately, hasn’t responded to my phone calls to check in on him.
“But I don’t know why you haven’t been in school.”
“Oh, right. Yeah, I need to talk to you about that.”
The thing with Eduardo is that he seems very sad. When he writes in class, it always breaks my heart. He has written things like, “When I’m in a crowd, I wish I was invisible so no one would have to see me,” “I’m one of those people who never had support from his family, and that’s hard on a person.” So I shouldn’t be surprised when he comes to talk with me after class and tells me his attendance is so bad because he has started to feel stupid, to wonder why he bothers when he’s never going to learn anything anyway.
The two-second conversation about why he’d been out of school turned into a 30-minute talk about all the reasons he should come to school, about all the ways he’s already shown me that he isn’t stupid, about talking with the support counselor when he’s feeling so down on himself (or whenever).
So I’ve done what Eduardo asked and written about him, but I’m frustrated that today was our last class for the week and I won’t see him until Tuesday.
Check out the rest of the slices of life over at Stacey and Ruth’s.