There is an ancient Chinese belief called “double happiness.” Originating during the Tang Dynasty, the belief speaks to how joyous occasions often occur simultaneously in everyday life. Or simply stated, how all good things come in pairs.
Three days before we let out for Fall Break, I found out that two more students were being added to my class. Both boys, Cody and Ashton, will start with me when we return from the break. I met with both of their families, and honestly, I don’t see Cody being a problem. Yes, he has already spent three days in juvenile detention; yes, he has a court date coming up and has already racked up two more charges; yes, his behavior has been so disruptive at home that his dad is preparing to file an “unruly child” charge against his own son; yes, Cody is lazy, unmotivated, and doesn’t seem to take anything serious–but he sat in our meeting with shaking hands and scared eyes and left the office speechless. It’s not that kids like Cody are uncontrollable, it’s that kids like Cody haven’t figured out yet that life is not a game and that they are not above life’s consequences. I have faith that he will learn quickly now that he is in our class.
Ashton, on the other hand, may turn out to be a different sort of challenge. His dad, who he idealizes, was just sentenced to 13 years in prison, and his mom, who he hates, now has full custody. His life seems to be characterized by his two greatest passions: skateboarding and smoking weed. In fact, he was kicked out of a court appointed “boot camp” for youth last summer because he failed their drug test two days before graduation. The judge assigned him a drug and alcohol class, which he has deliberately skipped, as well as 200 community service hours, which he has refused to complete. His mom claimed that she has tried her best to get him to cooperate but that he blames her for everything—his dad in prison, the divorce, his failing grades, his time in juvenile detention, even being placed in our classroom. I only had one question for him: “Ashton, what is making you so bitter?” He turned his back to me, swept his long hair in front of his face, and remained silent.
I’ve got one week to rest, and then it’s time to start digging. I hope the ancient Chinese knew what they were talking about.