Friday, April 13, 2007

Breakdown II

Shalonda was having a tough time getting to work on her paper. She surpised me when she chose Miles Davis as her topic, and I was excited because I knew I could help her make the link to 60s rock & soul, and from there to hip hop. I dig Miles and was excited that some of the other kids would get some exposure too.

It's not unusual for her to have a hard time getting started. She's not a good student and is very social, so when faced with something hard she starts goofing off. After a couple of minutes she just put her head down.

I went to talk to her to help her get started, and she just said "I can't concentrate today, I've got bad problems." After another minute or two of talking those tell-tale tears snuck by her defenses, and pretty soon she and I were out in the hall while she unloaded.

She's pregnant. Again. She had a miscarriage 6 or 8 weeks before. This time her biggest worry was that her dad was going to kill her because she promised it wouldn't happen again. Like most kids, she was convinced that her life was over and she had to drop out of school, and I kept telling her about all the programs we have to help her stay in school. She wanted to keep the baby, the daddy didn't want anything to do with it, her dad was pissed at her, and she doesn't talk to her mom. She's in a tough spot.

She didn't know that there are programs that guarantee her money for college, AND an apartment, AND acceptance to a pretty good college (I can't remember which one) if she just graduates high school and stays in the program.

For a little while, we had a breakthrough. I was able to convince her that every decision she makes has to be about the baby and how she can best take care of it, including graduating high school so she can get a better job, and maybe go on to college.

And it worked. She sat down and got right to work. She needed a lot of help, but for the next two days she seemed motivated to succeed.

Fast forward four days: She came in after a long weekend and blindsided me with a great big hug, saying "Mr. G., I'm not pregnant!" She started bleeding over the weekend and thought she was having another miscarriage so she went to the ER. Turns out that her period was three weeks late, but that she wasn't pregnant.

Crisis avoided, and now she's back to her usual nonsense. She has done almost no work and earned an F for 3rd quarter, and I'm pretty sure she won't pass for the year.

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