This is my second “The Love Below” post. Ever wondered how kids are interacting romantically in public school right now? Read here.
Two weeks ago (or was it last week? All of it is getting rather blurry to me), I broke up a fight between a really strong 16-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl who wasn’t quite as big. Being one of the only males of the school, I once again found myself breaking up another fight. This one was different; they were tugging at each other’s hair, and when I finally broke them up, he said, “I don’t hit girls. What the fuck, man?”
What? The hell you don’t. I’ve seen you my damn self!
Yeah I know “her” sordid history. For some reason, kids seem to be comfortable enough to tell me all their business. Well, most of it anyways.
They tell me the basics about who they like, since when, and maybe even what they did. For example, last year, I had to talk to one of my girls about the appearance of a condom popping out of her jacket. Again, I always tread on this taboo stuff, but I speak earnestly and know what I’m getting into (usually). With Valentine’s Day coming up, I’m already starting to hear about the buzz about who’s going to ask who to what. I’ve already confiscated drawings, candy, and love letters, most of which had deplorable spelling errors (yes, I’m being tongue-in-cheek). Everyone’s dressing a little nicer, and even the boys have decided to actually smell appropriately for public settings. It’s wonderful really.
Yet, I can’t help but be bothered just a smidget about what’s going on with them. I often feel like with their minds on every and anything else, they’ll never find a way to balance out those parts of their lives with the work that, for their futures, needs to get done. And I don’t just mean my class work. It becomes hard to instill the values of education into my students when so many of them are more concerned with the girls they’re going out with (and in some cases, the girls they’re sharing), the freshest outerwear, or in general, acting like they’re part of a gang or a set when they’re not even close to gangsta.
What worries me most is the lack of examples they have for what constitutes as love. As I’ve recently found out personally, the past definitely comes back to haunt you in your relationships. So here I am, listening to them talk about each other behind their backs but in such loving tones, it gives me hope that they’ll learn to have real and positive relationships with each other. Then, I walk down the street at night and see a guy beating up on his girl because a) they don’t know how else to address their angst and b) because that’s all they’ve ever seen. He’ll “smack a ho” for “talking shit,” but when they were small children, like the ones I’m teaching now, they were putting their head down on a desk, crying their eyes out for another girl who they broke his heart.
My sincerest hope when I see them out there, looking at each other lovingly, slapping each other and making kissy faces at each other, is that they remember the abuses their mothers suffered through, that they’ve seen in their own neighborhoods, and step far away from the gloomy examples of their present day. Girls that look up to Rihanna and boys that want to dance like Chris Brown need someone that’ll show them what a real and successful relationship looks like (Chris Brown himself hasn’t really had that).
Love changes definition in time for our kids, but the feeling becomes a much easier feeling to understand when real love takes over …
Jose, who thinks domestic abuse jokes are completely unfunny …