Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Jason generation

Tired... so very tired... been slacking off homework all week and now feel vaguely guilty and yet also vaguely satisifed...

So, in a previous post, I mentioned two of the very few black kids at our child care center in Oregon, AR and KI. The latter was a great kid with very few problems; AR was another story.

His mother apparently let him listen to gangsta rap and watch whatever TV shows he wanted. He was from a low-SES family like all the kids at VOA, and like a lot of kids raised by a single mother in poverty conditions, he had poor self-control. This, combined with his mother's... uh, permissive parenting style, made him a rather wacky handful at times.

His mother told me how, once on a bus, he turned to her and said excitedly, "Mama! That woman looks just like Snoop Doggy Dogg!" She tried to hush him, but he just kept on louder, trying to make his mom look at the lady. Hilarious.

Slightly less hilarious was when we needed to physically restrain him. Now, this was (and I'm sure still is) strictly against VOA policy, but let's face it, policy and reality are so often at odds. Officially, we were forbidden to restrain in any way a child who didn't want to be held, even if the child was putting himself or others in danger. Yeah, right! Sometimes, it simply needed to be done, and I was willing to take full responsibility for my decisions. No, we didn't do anything horrible like tape him or lock him in a bathroom or anything else that could reasonably be called abuse. We were calm and professional and gentle and just held him in our arms or lap so he wouldn't hurt himself or others.

When I would hold him, usually at nap time when he'd decided he wanted to walk around and step on his classmates, he would grow very resentful. Typically, he'd shout something like this: "Goddamn motherfucking let go! I'm gonna kill you and shoot you and slit your eyes with a razor blade and pour alcohol in your eyes! I'm gonna get my pet falcon and pet tiger to claw your eyes out! Fucking let go of me! I'm gonna shoot you with my gun and stab you with my knife and pour alcohol in your eyes and make you drink poison!"

A four-year-old.

No, I'm not exaggerating or putting any phrases in his mouth he never actually said.

It wasn't his fault. I loved that poor, crazy kid who needed some firm and intelligent guidance. His mother, I'm sure, meant well, but she worked long hours. AR --- at VOA for nearly 12 hours a day --- saw little of her; when he did, she utilized a very unfortunate blend of neglectful (not setting boundaries for his entertainment) and authoritarian parenting. Most of the time, AR was sweet and calm. He would tell me he loved me. He participated in the activities. (He would also insist on taking his shirt off to go to the bathroom, which was weird, but harmless.) So what made him that way? And I wonder what he's like now?

A child watches 1500 murders
Before he's twelve years old
And we wonder how we've created
A Jason generation that learns to laugh
Rather than abhor the horror
-Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, "Television, the Drug of the Nation"

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