“He NEVER had a chance” Part 3: Fighting Pit Bulls
As mentioned in the previous post (“He NEVER had a chance” Part 2: General Bad Ass), little second grade Dahvie could be quiet a terror in school:
“He was squat, short for his age, but powerful, pit bull-powerful. He was a lot like a pit bull, the kind people claim are so sweet and wonderful until they rip the baby’s face off.”
Dahvie’s behavior issues at school led him to be diagnosed with a disability, which put him in the care of Mrs. Christina. Her description of the special education system at the school is very telling:
“I was a special education teacher, working in a resource room designed to meet the needs of students K-5th grade, an impossible task in a ridiculous system. The sweet little kindergarten kids who were experiencing developmental delays to the frightening, mean 5th grader who was reportedly already hearing voices and threatening to kill people, a kid you didn’t dare to turn your eyes from. When the little ones would report to my classroom, it always reminded me of the lamb led to the slaughter. Oh the joys of teaching special education!”
I see this flawed special education room as “The Pit”: as long as these kids are out of the main classroom, it’s a “out of sight, out of mind” situation. And to think that parents rely on schools to educating their special-needs youth, especially low-income parents who send their kids to public school special education—this might be the only specialized care their kid gets. With conditions like this, it isn’t surprising that things weren’t getting better—they were getting a lot worse.
Sick as a Dog
Dahvie was diagnosed with a disability, but Mrs. Christina contests this diagnosis. In her opinion, Dahvie wasn’t sick:
“Dahvie was diagnosed with a disability but I never believed it for a minute. He didn’t have a disorder. He had a mangled family tree replete with violence, poverty, drugs, crime, and the like.”
Her reasoning is, what with the violence of Dahvie’s neighborhood, his unstable home life, fragmented family, and impoverished living situation, how could you really expect anything else from a second grader?
She continues to nail in this point:
“It was painfully apparent to me that Dahvie’s only real disability was his misfortune to live in a depressed neighborhood with a sick, unemployed grandmother. I just knew that given other circumstances in a different neighborhood, Dahvie’s true potential would be realized. He could become a gifted athlete, a powerful leader, an accomplished student. I could see it. I could feel it. I just knew it.
And I was powerless to make it happen.”
The dreams that Mrs. Christina had for Dahvie cuts my heart. I just think about how many youth are left like this, swelling with potential, ready to burst, but caught without the opportunity to realize that potential. Instead, they’re marked with a “disability.”
Fighting Pit Bulls
One example of the horrible situation Dahvie was in is truly harrowing:
“I never lived in a neighborhood where the adults wagered bets on which family canine would prove the victor in a staged fight. And when the adults tired of the animal fights, they would pit the kids together in battle. Dahvie would excitedly report the victories and the surprising defeats…”
That’s…that’s something. I just can’t understand that. Dog fighting is what it is…not that I support it, but it is NOTHING in comparison to making children fight. How horrible. I just…I’m sad and angry. I want to cry, to yell…I just can’t get over that people would do that to kids.
I really don’t know how Mrs. Christina kept her head through all this. She noted that:
“He would marvel over a recent outrageous neighborhood occurrence regaling me with all the details. I would hold my breath in an attempt to summon up the correct response, wondering if it best to simply listen or was it better to provide constructive input, instructing him as to the wonders of a world I simply did not know.”
What could she do? Sitting there in horror as she hears about a world that she’s never encountered…what advice could she give Dahvie? That he should be the peacekeeper in a dog eat dog world? Tell him not to participate, when this is his community, his world, his life? His way of learning how to be strong? His means of survival? I just…I don’t know. I really don’t.