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Entry date: 12-9-2023 – Don’t Even Share It (the Bet) – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Yesterday, the cocaine baby and I had a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting. It stemmed from more asinine behavior over the course of the morning. He’s not happy about something at home and he’s been taking that out on the class all week. It could be his broken tooth. For all I know, the little dude is in more pain than he’s letting on.


Either way, I think he and I are closer to being on the same page than we have been so far. It won’t solve his problems and it won’t save me a lot more sleep, but progress was made. In fact, I would say that a lot of progress was made in helping the class understand him more, too.


These kids deal with a lot of pain. Out of my 29 students (that I have now), I would say that a dozen understand trauma really well. These kids are survivors, too.


I’m not sure the cocaine baby is ready to embrace empathy, but there will probably be a lot more of it directed towards him after yesterday.


After he got ratted out by his classmates for the third or fourth time by about 10:45AM, it was time for the meeting. I asked him why he thought many of the other students, even the ones he gets along with the best, were so quick to rat him out. He said, “They don’t like me.”


It was time. I asked him why he thought that, and he said, “I don’t know.”


He was lying. A blind person could see his tells. Luckily for him, he’s a terrible liar. He is positively Trump-ish in his propensity for non-truths but unlike the Comb-over Cantaloupe, nobody believes him.


We got into it, though, and I went over the class norms that his classmates had created in the first week of school. “We have a contract,” I explained. “We behave and we take responsibility.” Out of 29, I’ve got about 25 who are doing just that at this point. 60% of the time, it’s 100% effective.


I asked the class, “How many of you would be happy to forgive the cocaine baby and be his friend if he would just treat you the way you want to treat him?”


20 or more hands went up.


The cocaine baby pointed at one of the kids who didn’t raise his hand.


“See! They don’t like me.”


“Cocaine Baby,” I said, “You need to look at the other twenty or so people who want to like you.”


It was like a little light bulb went off over his head. While he wasn’t perfect the rest of the day, he did try to be kind. That’s a start.


Another goddamn start.




Neither Paul nor Marcy got a good night’s sleep. Both were tossing and turning and though the house seemed still at 2:38AM that morning. It wasn’t.


Winny’s visit with Jonathan seemed like a distant memory as Winny snooze away in her room, which was down the hall from her parent’s bedroom. Like many a urban/suburban-style home, the hallway was lined with pictures and art. Each family member got to pick what they wanted closest to their door.


Billy’s room was closest to the stairs on the north end of the hallway. He chose to put a poster of Iron Man on his door. It was the cover of one of the early issues from 1968 where Iron Man is battling The Crusher, who looked like a muscular skinhead. Billy loved that it said “12 cents” for the price.


The family had gone to a Comic Con at the Civic Center downtown and Billy had spent seven weeks of allowance on it. Marcy got it framed for him as a surprise a few weeks later and much to her chagrin, it looked really good. Everyone kind of liked it and it was clear that Billy had good taste. Paul attached it to Billy’s door while he was at school one day and it had been there ever since.


Family pictures adorned the wall between Billy’s door and the bathroom door. One was of Paul, Marcy, Winny, and Billy and the other was of Marcy’s parents from a cruise they took to the Bahamas. It was a bit lower than you might expect. This was also at Billy’s request. He wanted to be able to see “Turbo” and “Beak” better.


Billy had named his grandmother “Turbo” when he was about 18 months old and was really starting to add to his vocabulary. Nobody was sure why this name stuck for him, but it did. Winny called Marcy’s mother, Betty, “grandmom” and her grandfather, “granddad.” Granddad’s name was Harry, but due to his rather hawkish look, Billy called him “Beak.”


Beak and Turbo were rather proud of Billy’s names for them, and he was rather fond of them.


Winny had chosen a picture of a tree she had taken when she was seven as her wall art for the hall. The tree was outside of the Grand Canyon National Park at a rest stop they had pulled into so Marcy could pee on their way to see the “big hole in the ground” as Paul liked to call it. He had worked there two summers while he was in college and loved the place. Winny loved the tree.


It reminded her of what had been a really good day for them. Every time she noticed it, it made her smile. That was the day her dad had told them the story of how he had met their mom.




See you tomorrow.

Maybe not this one, but it would be cool to have Iron Man on your bedroom door.

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