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Year 3 Day 58- Reliving the good times….

by admin on November 10th, 2005

Home and hospital is a program I’ve been a part of for almost 6 years now. The program is designed for kids who are injured and have to be away from school for extended periods of time. I, being the teacher, get their work, deliver it to them, and make myself available for up to an hour a day to help them, and see to it they don’t fall behind. Students can be on this program from 2 weeks, up to an entire year depending on the severity of their condition. Kids go on this program for any number of reasons, from broken legs, and arms to bi-polar disorder, and depression.

Over the course of my 6 years in this program, I’ve had my share of all types of cases. I’d like to take today to share them with you. First off, I need to give you what the key points I’ve noticed over this time.

– about 85% of the kids on this system stay on it far longer than necessary
– about 90% of the kids on this program live in squalor
– about 70% are special education in some fashion.
– as a teacher in this program, you actually go to these kids HOUSE, and sit there an hour a day, 5 days a week. You learn how they live.
– The money they pay me almost isn’t good enough to endure what I see, and it’s $28 an hour.
– Most of the kids on this program have issues, not easily fixed with a cast, or surgery.
– 50% of the kids tend to be lazy, and not do their work.

Here are the highlights of the kids, and situations I’ve dealt with over the past 6 years.

BIG DOG

There was one kid who had a 200 pound Rottweiler that would bark and growl at me viciously, until they came and got him… then when I was in the house, he would bury his head in my crotch, and make these snuffling barks. I was so afraid of being bitten in the privates, I never stayed any longer than was required to drop off work, or pick up completed work. The student’s mother was always trying to tell me her pleas of how bad her son’s teachers were, or the plight of the mentally disturbed people she worked with. I dreaded her calls at school, because inevitably it was going to be a 45 minute detour of a call. The lady had a knack for talking forever. I was glad when the assignment was over.

YAAAAAY!!!

One of the more memorable home hospital kids I had was a severely retarded kid. I can’t begin to tell you the degree that this kid got dealt a bad hand in life. He was in 6th grade, but mentally he was functioning at the level of kelp, my pre-K son is achieving at a higher level than he was, and he can’t read. I have had some experience dealing with students like this, but I’m not expert that’s for sure.

The first thing I did was go talk to his teacher; she informed me of his level mentally and physically, and what types of work he was doing. Basically, he didn’t DO any work, they tried to get him to do some, but most times he became combative… and wouldn’t.

The words ibecomes combativei never sound good when you know you’ll be dealing with someone on their home turf, trying to get them to do work.

Despite my apprehensions, of dealing with a violent retarded kid, I still took the case, got his work, and proceeded to call his mother, and set up an appointment. She gave me the same report on her son. After much discussion on the best way to deal with his situation, we decided to go ahead and try more life skill teaching with him and less sit down work.

I showed up for the first day, everything seemed fairly normal. The house looked like most houses I’ve seen, not too nice, but not a single wide with missing windows. I approached the house, and began hearing a high pitched whine… coming from somewhere on the front porch, (which by the way had been converted into some weird child sized-kitchen, full of toys, and dolls, etc)

iGggggggggggerk Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeffft!!! HA HA HA HA WEEEEEEEEGGTi

When I got a little closer, I saw my student, barefoot, clad in sweats, and a grungy tank top, hiding behind an old mattress. He squealed some more, and ran off inside the house, locking the door behind him.

iGreat.i I thought… iThis is going to be a real treat.i

I knocked on the door, and his mom finally let me in. We decided that one of the things we’d work on for life skills was going to be cooking, measuring, cleaning up… etc. The first day I was fortunate enough to make macaroni and cheese with this kid. He managed to spill crap everywhere, and was constantly leaving the room and going to ihide.i

iFFFFFFFFFFFFFFREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!!!i He’d squeal, and scamper off.

The mom would retrieve him, scold him, and then bring him back into the kitchen, saying things like. iYour teacher is here, you need to pay attention, and work… i

The kid would squeal/shriek, fall on the floor, and the two would struggle like a cop and convict for several minutes before he would be forced back into paying attention; Needless to say, once the macaroni and cheese was finished, he changed his tune… and sat and ate for the rest of our hour… spilling most all over the floor.

The next day, the mom suggested we try more outdoor activity. iHe likes jumping on the trampoline.i She said, imaybe you two could go do that for a while.i

iuh… … … … … … … … .what?i

iYeah, he needs more physical activity, Doctor said that his muscles will begin to deteriorate faster if he just sits… so he needs to get out.i

iWell, ok then… let’s jump.i I said, and went outside with the kid to go jump on the trampoline.

The kid had NO coordination, and very little sense of an acceptable space cushion. He spent most of the time trying to knock me down, or punch me in the crotch. It was extremely uncomfortable. iOk champ’ let’s not touch me… ok, OK OK OOOOOH KAY don’t grab me, it’s not- don’t gra- Hey let’s not try and HIT me… .HEY, I’ll get off… we’ll stop jumping. Is that what you want?i

iSGHEEEEEEEEEEHTT!!!i

I was always afraid that his lack of good judgment was going to cause him to fall off the trampoline, and break his skull. Despite the silliness of the whole situation, we spent most of the days playing on the trampoline, or wandering around the yard looking for acorns.

Finally, one day the mom said we needed to focus on more educational stuff, like reading, and writing-because he wasn’t working on it when I wasn’t there, like he was supposed to. I was willing to try, although, I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. I also knew it would be very difficult, being as the kids couldn’t talk in any thing other than shrieks, or squeals.

But I tried.

I would sit there and trying to get this kid to focus on the writing and pictures on his worksheets, but he was too busy looking at the ceiling, or hiding under the table.

iPay attention buddy… Hey let’s get out from under the table… ok, let’s not grab my feet..i
iWehehehfffft hee hee heeei

The mom would get annoyed with his behavior, come in, and start getting irate.

iIf you can’t sit and do your work, we’ll have to strap you in your wheel chair.i

iBBBBBBBBBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRAHHHHHH!!!!!i He’d shriek, and then take a swing at his mother.

She’d grab him, and the struggle would be on. Again. Him swinging on her, and her grabbing him, pushing him down, to try and get him in his wheel chair, to be strapped down… the whole time, he’s shrieking and squealing.

Needless to say, it’s really uncomfortable for me to watch. This happened on a regular basis too. It was always hard to get the kid to do work anyway, let alone after he and his mother had gotten finished with 3 rounds of ultimate fighting.

2-weeks passed and for some reason the mom wanted a different teacher. I was so happy to oblige. While I did like getting paid to jump on a trampoline for an hour a day, I was glad to avoid having to see everything else I saw.

TRAILER FUN… .

The next few kids I had were interesting. They lived in trailers. One was battling a broken arm, and shoulder from fighting. The other was dealing with a broken leg, from trying to jump an immoveable object with a motorcycle, and coming up considerably short.

The first kid tried hard, and I’ll give him credit… his parents seemed to put forth a decent effort in making sure he did his work. He wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer though. His main problem was talking about fighting, and how he was going to fight the kid who hurt him again as soon as he was healed.

iAhm… kick that kid’s ass when I get better… maybe sooner.i

iWhat if you hurt your arm more?i

iDon’t care.i

And sure enough, he tried, and hurt his arm more, and was out for 4 more weeks. This kid didn’t hack it in the school when he finally returned, and was eventually sent to our school, for getting in too many fights. While at our school he got into 3 fights, threatened to stab our principal, and was expelled for good. What a fitting ending.

The second kid, with the broken leg was a different story. I asked him how exactly he broke his leg.

iTried to jump that lil’ trailer out front with a dirt bike… friend told me he’d give me a pack of cigarettes if I did. I hit the top and fell off, snapped my leg in 4 places.i

He lived in a trailer park that was so run down it was just waiting for a tornado to hit it, and put it out of its misery. His place was SO unkempt it was scary. It reeked of stale cigarettes, and the overflowing ash trays everywhere explained it. There was a TV from 1960 sitting on the floor, in a huge wooden crate, and it was always playing the Christopher Lowell show. The couch I sat in every day had 1 cushion, and no springs… so my knees would be by my ears, and I could feel the wood in the frame.
Pounding in my back, and legs.
One day as I was sitting there, I noticed a jar sitting on a shelf by my head. I looked and was shocked to see it contained several black widows.

iuhm… why do you have a jar with black widows in it?i I asked

iThey’re pets.i He said very normally.

iPets?i

iYeah we feed eem crickets, and moths n’ sh** it’s badass… i

I was convinced at that point, I was sitting in the most white trash place in the world. His house was a germ factory, and he was always sick… which eventually led to me being sick… for the 3 months he was in my program, I was always sick. One of the iperksi of the gig. Eventually, the kid moved to his dad’s house, which was slightly better, but also out of our district, so I was forced to drop him from the program. I never did find out if he brought his black widows with him. Every now and then I see him riding his bike around, it appears he healed fully, at least physically.

Hell Hound

I mentioned that a lot of kids abuse the system, and end up staying on the program for entire years. I have a student like that now, and had one for almost 2 years…

He was listed as being out with a leg injury, but for 75% of the 2 years I saw him… he was walking just fine. He lived on a hill, in a gated compound, that housed 3 or 4 different families, of the same core family. The worst part about this place was one of their dogs. It was half Tasmanian-devil, and half wolf… I think… but for whatever reason, the dog was very against tires on moving vehicle. Every time I would drive in, the dog would violently attack my car, and bite my tires. He would bite so hard I could FEEL him clamping down on them. One time I accidentally ran part of him over. I had to… he wouldn’t move, and I was going so slowly, that I thought he would move.

The dog was the worst thing outside, but inside was full of lizards… as well as assorted dogs and cats, mingling about together. I was always afraid the chuckwalla was going to eat the Chihuahua. There were many times they came close to having issues. Their cat was always close to having issues with the lizards as well… but strangely I never was fortunate enough to see a lizard on mammal battle.

After almost 2 years with me, the student finally returned to school, and actually did graduate from high school… which is impressive.

The Good

I have had several students who were actually pretty decent. They, unfortunately, aren’t very interesting to discuss. I showed up, they always had their work done. The parents were friendly, and they really appreciated me taking the time to help. One of them gave me soda when I came, and the other bought me a $40 gift card for a restaurant when I was finished.

Youngsters

Sometimes I get students that I don’t even understand why they give to me. One time I was given a 1st grader. I don’t really know much about elementary school kids as far as how to teach them. I tried… but it was always awkward. The kid always talked about princesses, and horses and what not… and I was at a loss. The work was really easy, but I couldn’t seem to convince her to get it done, and when I tried… I was always speaking over her head.

Current Affair

The student I have now takes the award though for the most disturbingly dirty house, and weirdest situation. The place is a bacteria playground… I’m getting sick now, and I KNOW it’s from this house… the kid is coughing out a lung everyday I go there, and they STILL haven’t cleaned a damn thing in there. I still can’t figure out who the random guys I see wandering around are. I know who the dad is, and he’s interesting himself… but there all these other guys just randomly there. It reminds me of the movie Salton Sea, where that house full of loadies were just hanging out. I know that at least 2 people sleep on couches there as primary places of slumber.

I am awaiting the day the cops bust the door down looking for smack, and I’m in there. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit. I know that eventually, if I keep working at these run down dirt houses, I’m going to be there when drug enforcement runs a sting… and I’ll get cuffed, and have to explain my way out.

I wish I could string together some sort of musical montage from all my home school places, and put it up for all to view… that would be both entertaining, and funny, but I don’t have the footage of me jumping on a trampoline with an angry retarded kid, or sitting in a broken couch with a jar full of black widows.

Sorry.

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2 Comments
  1. Paco permalink

    Classic! Reminds me of some of the awful “homes” I delivered pizza to. Except I didn’t have to spend an hour inside those places, more like 5 minutes.

  2. Eduardo permalink

    This has to be one of your best posts ever… That was awesome.

    I’m glad I didn’t read this while eating lunch at my desk, because I would have chuked something out of my nose.

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