“He NEVER had a chance” Part 4: My Heart Cracked
Soccer Mom Car
As was very clear from the past few posts, the cards were stacked against Dahvie: a home life lacking basic needs, a violent neighborhood, behavioral issues leading to a mental illness diagnosis. He had to be “General Bad Ass” to help care for his sick grandmother and tough as a pit bull in order to navigate neighborhood fights.
Mrs. Christina felt that Dahvie’s behavior could improve if he was provided a safe and loving home. She would dream of kidnapping him:
“I wanted so badly to hurry Dahvie to my tidy soccer mom car and tuck him in the back seat, carefully secure the safety buckle around him and take him home with me. He could share a bedroom with my same aged son. They would become best friends and brothers, I mused. I wanted to provide Dahvie with a comfortable bed with fresh linens, hot nutritious meals, and love, lots of love. And protection. I wanted to nurture the pit bull out of him, transforming him into a well-disciplined, powerful man designed to achieve greatness.”
What’s so powerful about this for me is that’s my husband she’s talking about—the same aged son. A boy who never worried about his next meal (well, maybe he does now, now that I’m cooking…), or had to participate in neighborhood fights, who always had his own bed, who was supported through his schooling and athletics, who went to college…
In second grade, your world is still open to you. You could be so many things. And it’s overwhelming to think about how different their paths were from this point.
Mrs. Christina could never realize her dream of adopting Dahvie, and, what’s more, her time educating him was to be ended:
“At the end of that school year, the special education committee met to discuss Dahvie. It was decided that his behavior would be best served in a self-contained classroom at a different school. A worse school. A nightmarish school. It was the kiss of death as far as I was concerned. I hurriedly excused myself from the meeting for a quick break as guilty tears stung my eyes, feeling as Judas. I had failed him.”
For how bad her own program was, it amazes me that there could be a worse option for Dahvie. Her own guilt here breaks my heart. She couldn’t do anything about it—if she had had any say in the matter, I’m sure things would have been much different. I sit here wondering—if Dahvie had stayed at the school with Mrs. Christina, someone who was willing to devote extra time, energy, and what’s more, real love to this kid—would things have been different? It’s such a depressing spiral, thinking of what could have been.
Their farewell is touching and heartbreaking. I’ll give it to you in Mrs. Christina’s own words, because, try as I might, I couldn’t convey her love and sadness:
“The last day of school the principal asked me to keep Dahvie in my classroom as the rest of the school assembled for the end-of-the-year awards assembly. She was concerned Dahvie would cause trouble, and I had no doubt she was right because he never passed up a chance to get the entire student body’s eyes upon him, there would be no awards for him, yet he would ensure he was the center of attention. It had to be expected. He was General Bad Ass, after all.
He walked sheepishly into my classroom kicking at the floor, embarrassed. He was struggling to find the words to explain why he couldn’t be trusted at the assembly. He seemed to believe that I was completely unaware that he was a nightmare in large groups. I welcomed him into the empty classroom with a big smile and outstretched arms. I took this tranquil opportunity to present him a gift, a school year book. He stared at me in wide eye shock. He looked as if he had just won the lottery. I didn’t even worry how the other students would react. I silently watched him as he excitedly flipped through the pages searching for photos of friends and squealing when he saw his big smiling mug.
The tears stung my eyes. I tried to push them back but he saw them. He asked me why I was crying. My voice was catchy and I choked out the confession that he wouldn’t be in my classroom the next school year. He queried me, pressing for details. He fell mute with the full realization that he was being transferred to another school. He didn’t get ugly or overreact. He resumed studying the yearbook. Eventually, he said, no way -- no way was he going to that other classroom. I imagined he was already scheming a way to retain his reign as General Bad Ass, knowing he would need that position of power even more in the new school. He seemed to shrug as he pushed it further back from his mind as he busied himself with the new book.
The vice principal collected him after the assembly. He casually waved his hand in my direction as he ducked out the door with the yearbook tucked under his arm. I wanted to scream “NO! Don’t go!” and grab him up in my arms and hold on forever, but instead, I shared a fractured smile and returned his wave with a crushing pain in my chest.
My heart cracked, a deep resounding crack that remains with me to this day.”