The Boy In The Ripped Jeans


I met this boy at the beginning of the school year. A new student from another city who began as a 7th grader. Not an easy grade to start a new school.

His clothing, hair style and even mannerisms were different from the rest of the kids in the city. Back then, he smiled. He doesn't smile anymore.

As months passed his isolation from the others became more apparent. I noticed he never had a snack or lunch. His head rested on his desk during class and worse he made no friends. Eventually he left during lunch hours as the boys would gather all their desk together and he would be sitting at his. His isolation was even more noticable then.

His home life was tragic and because of confidentiality I can't say more than that.

He used to talk to me before but eventually shrugged off any advancements from staff. I felt helpless.
School staff have involved themselves in trying to make life better for him but it's like he's given up and he's only 12 years old!
Not fair! I have a feeling I will read about him in the papers someday.

Today, he stayed behind at lunch while the others went out and he spoke to me again. He did take an offer of food when the others had gone outside. I feel a little more hopeful and just wanted some good thoughts and positive energy sent his way. My heart breaks for this kid. I just needed to vent.

I hope he continues to let you in....positive vibes for him as he struggles through this.

Do you have any boys in the class who are sensitive souls? Anybody you could engage - I'm envisioning a "partners" assignment where you pick the partners and they work together? Long shot..just the first thing off my head.
Marianne - thank you for caring so much. I think sometimes most people underestimate the power that a teacher can have, both positive or negative. I am sure that even in times when The Boy has not felt like talking, your concern for him has not gone unnoticed. Continue to make yourself available in this way and when he is ready he will come and talk to you. Maybe he was waiting to make sure he could trust you? I'm not sure, of course.

I like the partners assignment if such a person is available in the class. Just believe in him, that will make a huge difference. Sometimes that's all we can do....
Just keep showing him your kind and caring self Marianne, even if he doesn't show a response he will be remembering your kindness
He probably has an interest in something maybe music or art, soccer, animals or whatever. Perhaps you could find out what it is & get him into a club where he can meet like minded kids. My drama group was literally a life-saver at that age, with a turbulent home life & alcohlic parents it was my once a week refuge & kept me going for 4 years until I felt strong enough again.

Best wishes to him Group hug
What about a mentor? Like a Big Brother/Big Sister, but at school. Start with one. That could let you get to know his likes and interests to approach him from there.

Our demographics at school have changed dramatically over the last five years. So many needy kids with sad home situations.
Maybe he likes animals and could volunteer at the shelter or help with rescue. No better listener than a dog. Puppydog Eyes
Marianne, If your heart gets any bigger it won't fit in your body!!!
I think that if anybody can "reach" this boy, it will be you!!!
I like the idea of helping out with animals. One of my good friends from our basset rescue is a mental health case worker for youth. She is in northern MN - low incomes, indian reservations. She regularly takes groups of kids out to do dog stuff. They love it! Very Happy
Wow I feel for him. My son is the same age and things are much different went new kids come here all the kids are trying to meet the NEW kid. EVEN when I went to school here. BUT this a boom/bust town so we see lots go more then come. I will be think of him. I still remember when this boy(New to town) came over to play and Dax. This boy was huge I was thinking maybe 3 years older, later tht day Dax ask if he can sleep over... ahhhh how old is he and WHAT grade... SAME AGE Dax was actully older. Rolling Eyes Reminded me of moose off of the Artchies (spelling)But they became best buds and he is one of the best kids around here and welcome in my home son is good on getting the attention of bullys ... with Jody around I do not have a problem Wink

Thanks for those that have confidence in me but this boy has been hurt so much, he's closed himself off to attempts of help. You can literally see the pain on his face. He went missing the other day and my heart hurt thinking of him.

Due to red tape (can't say too much) I'm unable to take him out anywhere, but will continue to work away at it. I'd love to treat him to dinner, a trip to the mall and perhaps a movie. However, I'm unable to because of the "red tape".

I thought the one role I could play is a "mothering role". I notice he's embarressed to be on the lunch program - (the only one in the class). So I bought containers and now go get his lunch early, heat it up, add extra goodies and leave it on the front table where other parents leave their kids hot lunches. That way no one notices and it's not in the tell tale lunch program bags. He has been eating them.
Another thing I did is bring him some clothes and leave them in the medical room for him so he chose a few things today.
I stuck a chocolate bar in his desk and he must have realized it came from me as he mouthed the words "thank you".
Hopefully with time if I continue the "mothering" he will feel like someone cares. Many at the school are concerned about him..not just me but are at a loss of what to do as he's closed himself off to all of us.

I wish the kids had been more accepting of a new kid in class and I'm suprised they weren't friendlier. He's the only one of this race at school and I suspect this has something to do with it. A clash of cultures and kids too immature to fully understand the impact. The kids aren't mean to him, just indifferent or ignore him completely as if he's invisible.

ej- I remember when my son was thrilled that a new kid (also HUGE) started hanging out with him. Said it was like having a big body guard! LOL Wish we had one of those kinda new kids at this school. :O)

Anyhow, thanks for listening as this is really hurting my soul is the best way I can explain it.

I work in a school and see these kind of things all the time. It just breaks me heart. And sometimes I see that it is the parents fault and it makes me angry.

But it sounds like you are doing a great job at helping him cope with his problems. Many of the children like him just need a person they can talk to and to be a friend with. I always go out of my way when I see a child that is a discipline problem and just needy as he is.
Talking and making friends with them seems to help and when they need someone they come looking for me to talk to them or maybe just waving in the hallway at me is enough for them to get them to make it through the day.


That is so shattering to hear. I have no doubt it's hurting your soul. But don't ever underestimate the difference you may be making to him. Just because he appears to be shutting down, don't give up. Kids like that need to hear positive encouragement and that they are important, they matter and have things going for them. Support as such, that you would get if you lived in a loving home.

Is it possible there is some type of movie that could be shown to the class about not ostricizing others? Movies are a good way to learn and fun for kids. Even Pay it Forward is a good movie if allowed and then maybe a chat of how to pay it forward in the classroom for example teaching the kids how they can help each other and also to allow everyone to be included. Is there a way to combat the desk situation at lunch? Maybe have the entire class arrange in a circle or have meet new people day or something.

Maybe some kind of curriculum about getting to know fellow students. That is such an age where you can really wake kids up about living consciously.

That was also a good suggestion about a buddy system. Maybe you could have buddies that could switch up every few days so everyone gets to know him and he has a shot at friendship. Maybe with curriculum teaching about buddies and friendship and lessons about what makes a good friend.

Good luck, Marianne, you have a humongous heart. You inspire me all of the time so I have no doubt how much you are doing for this poor child! Please keep it up, I really believe you will come up with just the right thing. Thanks for caring so much Exclamation
I am truly touched by your word Marianne.
I was always a new kid because my parents moved around alot..internationally..
It's hard because you go to a totally different country and you don't even know how to say "yes" or "no" in that language.

But I remember EVERY single person, whether it was a kid, or a teacher, or an upperclassman who tried to welcome me into the scary new place and held out a caring hand. I even remember a girl from 1st grade who handed me a cupcake... and it was her birthday.. so everyone got them.. but I felt "IN"

The boy you mention may be shutting himself, and perhaps it's partly due to what happens outside of school as well. But know your efforts will be of great influence.
Marianne, you are making such a big difference in this kid's life. He will always remember you. I'm praying for you both Group hug

If only there was less 'red tape' and more people like you!
Thanks again for all the comments and suggestions everyone.

I've just been heartsick over this boy and ironically I realized it was similar to when Panda came into my home and had to learn to trust people again. Sometimes for every step forward, it's one step backwards. I'll keep plugging away and just let him know I'm here if he needs me.

I haven't discussed my role with too many people at school as often I find sometimes in situations like this people are a bit too condesending, "aww you poor little kid", type of thing. I want to preserve his dignity.

Thanks for keeping him in your thoughts.

Thank you for your effort with this boy, Marianne.
I am sure you will be able to make a difference for him.

I could have hugged my co-workers on Friday! A group of us worked together behind the scenes so that very few were aware of what was going on. The wonderful lunch lady who daily takes the extra time to bring his lunch in the staff room so that I can repack it and place on the front table so that it looks homemade from the telltale lunch program bag. My wonderful friend at school who although had children of her own , purchased three brand new pairs of jeans for him, another friend who left me money to purchase McDonalds lunch for him as a treat, and lastly the secretary who made sure my cupboard was stocked with nutritious snacks and juice boxes. I stick them in his desk before school so the other children are not aware. The other staff were not aware of the behind the scenes stuff either as again we want to protect his dignity but there are now 7 of us working together. (The school is large and has a staff of over 50).

Friday, he sat with the other children at lunch and I saw him smiling!

I'm realistic in knowing that while this won't change his current situation and he is dealing with stuff many of us as adults would find difficult. At least we can try to ease the pain somewhat and let him know people care.

Marianne, you are making a difference in his life. Sometimes, the best times in a child's life are the hours spent at school.

Does your district offer a summer school program? We have both academic and fun classes for kids to take. Our PTA will help us offset the cost for some of the needy kids - they don't know the names or the exact situation. He might ike something like this.
It sounds as though things are progressing. Doing things quietly, to preserve his dignity, and to give him a chance to feel comfortable will do wonders. Eventually, he may open up a little with kids and form some real friendships.

You can never know how much small acts of kindness can affect someone's life. How wonderful you and others at your school are.
keep doing what you are doing... he will remember... He is thinking of you too, I bet on it.
Wonderful!! Keep up the great work! Cheering!
Marrianne, Great work Exclamation Exclamation I had a similar situation when I picked up an extra job as a lunch lady at our middle school caf. One little girl who did not quite fit in, she was adorable. She was very poor and could not afford the extra treats the kids have to buy, so the other lunch lady and I would by the extra treats and tell her that she won this or that for being the best behaved in the lunch line. We would make up contests that only the other lady and I would know. We would also stick little gifts on her lunch tray, such as earings and bracelets that the other girls had, telling her we did not know where they came from. We did this without the other kids knowing. When I knew we were having some of her favorites, I would pile on extra's telling her we did not want to have to save for leftovers, telling her she was doing us a favor. She started smiling, laughing , and made friends and became more self confident, I felt that I was rewarded ten times over , hoping I made a little bit of difference in her life.
What a wonderful story Loried! Just heartwarming and shows a little caring goes a long way!!
You have a good heart and I agree the rewards to make a difference, gets paid back tenfold.

Thanks for the story!

PS - We had a grade 5-7 Valentine Dance at the school last week and of course boys on one side, girls on the other. Only four brave boys crossed over and asked girls to dance..he was one of them!

That is AWESOME, Marianne! Very Happy
Ohhhhhh YES!!! Isn't that SO wonderful??? I hope the girl he asked danced with him!! That has to be absolute proof right there that what you are doing is really paying off.
Not only did she dance with him but it was a slow dance and so they "waltzed". It was magical!
Awww! How sweet! hearts
Aw! That makes my heart soar!!!!!
Marianne, That makes my heart smile Very Happy
Marianne & Loried... you've given these kids such a beautiful gift. Very Happy
Compassion, hope and self worth. You're making their world a much better
place through your kindness and the way you've chosen to express it. Thank
you for caring SO much and doing something to help redirect their futures. hearts


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