The want of a dollar.

As I mentioned, I had lunch with a group of the Charmer’s friends three days in a row last week. It should have only been two.

Tuesday during lunch, the Charmer mentioned not wanting to come to my school next year. This was a surprise. He’s not in our district and he and I have been working on getting him choiced in for next year, so to hear he suddenly didn’t want to come back was unexpected. I asked him why right at the end of lunch and he gave me a look and said that I knew why.

I had no idea why.

I asked if he and I could have lunch one day to talk about it. He said sure. I asked Wednesday or Thursday. Whatever. Seriously, I asked, Wednesday or Thursday? Choose! He said he didn’t care, either was fine.

Wednesday I went to get him. Not today…he wanted to have lunch with his friends today. Okay, then, tomorrow? Sure. Then his friends asked if they could eat with me. I said they could come but he didn’t have to. He came too. At the end of lunch, I reconfirmed for Thursday. Totally, he said.

Thursday I went to find him. Absent. Instead BB Bob and the Chowhound came, which was fine, but I was perturbed.

The Charmer’s attendance sucked when he first came back to school this year. He would miss about a day every week to week and a half, which is absurd. Once I started mentoring him, it got a lot better – he and I looked at his attendance (I don’t think he realized how bad it was till he saw it on paper) and talked about the issue, and then we managed to get him a bus pass.

For about 6 weeks, he was there every day, then it dropped off again. Not as bad as before, but not good. One day he told me that he hadn’t come because the weather was bad, his jacket was at school and his sweatshirt was at a friend’s house, and he didn’t want to wait for the bus in the snow. That’s all the warm clothes he had – a jacket and a sweatshirt. And I couldn’t argue with him. How am I going to tell a kid to wait outside for the bus in the snow in a t-shirt? So I asked him to call me if he was going to be absent and we’d figure something out. He agreed, and for about three weeks he was there every day. And then he wasn’t. Long story, but he told me something that led to the social services call. That was two and a half weeks ago. He’s missed two more days since then. The first he said he’d had a dentist appointment, mom doesn’t have a car, a friend had to drive them, he couldn’t come…I didn’t push it. The second was Thursday.

It really pissed me off that he wasn’t there on Thursday. Honestly, I thought it might be kind of a fuck you to me – he and I had an agreement to talk, he and I’d had run-ins before about his attendance...this struck me as possibly intentional. I told his friends to tell him that we needed to talk. They agreed, and the Chowhound said he didn’t know why the Charmer was absent all the time, but that he should come to school more. He rambled about that for a minute, till all of a sudden BB Bob blurted out that the Charmer didn’t have a bus pass.

“What?” I said.

“He doesn’t have a bus pass right now. That’s why he’s not here, I think.”

“Why doesn’t he have a bus pass?” I was skeptical, wondering if he’d given it away or something.

BB Bob shrugged. “I don’t know. That’s just what he said.”

Later that day his counselor came to talk to me about something else. I mentioned his absence; she confirmed it and brought up that his bus pass had come that day. Apparently she’d gotten a nasty message from mom about it, but couldn’t really do anything about the situation. He’d get the bus pass when he came back to school, whenever that was.

So it was true. He wasn’t coming to school because he couldn’t come to school. Bus fare is only a dollar, but they didn’t have it, I guess.

I wish he’d called me like he said he would. He lives a few miles from school, but it can’t be more than a ten minute drive – I could have driven to his house and given him the money to get there. And now I’m guessing that’s why he doesn’t want to come back next year. I’m guessing he doesn’t know how he’d get to school, and so he doesn’t want to deal with it. Hopefully he and I will get to talk on Monday, and I can confirm my guess and try to work around it.

The want of a dollar – what a sad reason to miss out on your education.


"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
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