So I have this habit when I go to court. I make boys cry. Yeah. It happened again today.
Ok, so I guess I should explain somethings first. I work at a residential facility that works with juvenile males that have committed a crime. Now my students haven’t committed small crimes. No, my students are the ones that make the front page of the news paper or even the front page of the latest gossiper. They are the ones you typically want to see go far away for a long time and only come back if they have convinced everyone and including their mother that they have changed. My role in all this is to design, monitor, and report on their treatment. I go to court representing my job to testify how the student is doing and make an official recommendation if a student should be discharged or not. Most of the time, they are coming back and they need more help. Trust me, don’t feel bad for these boys because if you read their files you would agree with me about 101% of the time. In fact, I can count on one hand and I wont need all of my fingers either, that a judge didn’t agree with me and went against my recommendation.
So back to my habit. I make boys cry. See many of these young men go to court with the hopes of getting discharged. Of going home, of seeing their family and friends! Some of these terrible ideas come from their parents, public defender, and/or both. They start thinking that if they say the right things to the judge or act a certain way things just might be different this time around and they can convince everyone that they should go home. Now, I’m not a heartless bastard, ok…maybe just a little bit, but I do talk to the students before court and quite plainly explain to them what I am recommending and why. I even have their counselors sit down with them and explain what will happen at court and what they should expect. Not to mention we typically have a group and the all the older students give the other students feedback on court and what to expect. So, they don’t go into court not knowing what to expect. In fact, they know full well and still… somewhere there is a tiny glimmer of hope that this time will be different.
Of course it isn’t. Thus the tears. Thus the hugs from mom, dad, step-dad, step-mom, grandma, pop pop, auntie, uncle bob, crazy aunt Margie and a random cousin no one knows. Here’s the kicker tho, I like that there is hope. That they hope against all odds that things will be different. Why? Because I like to see their worlds come crashing down and a total look of despair cross their face? No…ok..maybe just a little. Seriously though, its a good thing because if they thought the whole thing was POINTLESS, then they would give up. They would stop their treatment. They would not talk to their families, they would stop trying. I’ve seen kids, hell even adults, be like that. Its not good. The kids that think things are pointless are ones that get physically restrained over and over because there is no hope. They go to court and they know their fate and they don’t care. They are the kids that get bounced around from facility to facility for years. They are the ones that become so ingrained into the system that once get out, they almost instantly commit another crime so they can go back in. I will say this, that the hearings aren’t all bad because the judge, probation officers and even myself give the student even more hope for the next time. We give them a guideline of what they need to do to get better, to make changes, what they need to work on and accomplish for next time so that maybe…just maybe…they’ll get discharged.
Too often I find myself a realist, a cynic. The problem with being a realist/cynic is that there isn’t much hope. Not blind hope like my students have. I analyze each outcome, thing of all the possibilities and then fully expect that the worst possible outcome will happen. I do have moments of hope. I look at Toby and I know I have some outlandish ideas of what he can do. At the same times I look at him and see him smack his head off the couch because he has box on his head and simply shake my head. It is good to have hope. I look at my students and see what happens if we don’t have hope. Hope can change people. I have to believe it or what I do as a profession is pointless. Now that I think about it, it’s all based on hope. We hope the student changes, we hope the student does not re-offend, we hope things will be different this time. Even if we look at a situation and “know” that none of those things will happen, we still hope. We still try. We still do the best we can. If we lose hope, then its easier for the next person to lose hope. Its easier for the student to lose hope. To turn into that kid.
I know personally, I need to hope a little more. In what? I’m not sure yet. Hope in myself? Hope in others? This is going to be a personal stretch. Recent events and life events have shown me that it doesn’t pay to hope in others or even myself. Hard to trust either of those things. I have to hope though. I don’t want to totally lose hope because if I do, I turn into that kid. That kid that has lost all hope and just does whatever the hell he wants and doesn’t care about anyone else. I have hope in Toby. At the moment, it seems to be enough. I know that quite honestly, I’ll need to begin to hope in others including myself. I need to have a little more of that blind hope like my students…because who knows….