Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tell Me, Where Did You Sleep Last Night...?

I participate in a men's bowling league.  It's a nice temporary escape from reality and helps sharpen my conversational skills with men who spit a lot and neglect bathing.  

The other night a guy a few lanes over came in with a couple of kids.  I won't pretend to know the whole back story.  I assumed they were his children, but I suppose it's equally possible he was 'watching' these two kids for someone else.  He bought the children some soda, a pizza, and hoped they'd leave him alone while he rolled.  

A bowling alley on men's league night is about as appropriate a place for children as a strip joint.  The language would generally make most sailors blush, and alcohol, tobacco, & personal shame flow like water.  As I am not beyond belting the occasional expletive after leaving the fucking 10 pin (again), I wasn't overly thrilled to have two small children ear shot from me.  This is after all, my night off from being a dad and an educator.  

Around 9:00 pm, the older of the two kids (I'd estimate 3rd or 4th grade) went to sleep on some coats along the back wall roughly between the beer counter and the 'not responsible for lost items' coat rack.  Seeing a kid sleeping on the ground upset me....and then my mind went back to my day job.

What happens at school the next day?  This little girl has spent her evening, basically by herself surrounded by loud noises and strangers who smell like a perfect blend of Camel Wides, lane oil, and BO.  She was sleeping on the floor, in public, while her teacher perhaps assumed she was in a warm bed (and had been there since a reasonable time).

Will her teacher assume she's studied for her test?  Will she give her a second chance to prove she has learned the material if she fails because she's tired and couldn't study because she wasn't at home though it was beyond her control?  Will her teacher scold her in the hallway for not having done her homework?  Or will the little girl cheat and never learn the material so she's isn't punished by grades and lectured by her teacher?  Will the little girl thoughtfully explain to her teacher that she was couldn't work on her poster board because she was at a bowling alley and didn't get home till after 11:00 pm when her daddy stopped drinking and woke her up to ride home?  Or will she lie or not mention it because no kid wants to ever believe their parents are losers no matter how obviously it may be to others?

Are there perhaps kids in this little girls class who have it worse?  Is sleeping at a bowling alley better or worse than trying to sleep while parents fight (or party) late into the night?  Do teachers, particularly of young children who have little/no control over their time, stop to consider the above questions/scenarios when they are making sweeping decisions about grades, learning, and possible punishment?  My fear is not nearly enough.  

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