Thursday, October 22, 2009

L & S

L smashed S's face against a wall this week. He'd been provoking him for the last few weeks, but I hadn't seen this coming. Resorting to physical violence in addition to psychological mischief is - I suppose - a final cry for attention (and dominance) in the same vein as self-harming.

S is older (and bigger) than L, but he chose to take the hits to his nose, cheek and lips. There was already a lot of blood by the time W raised the alarm and they both looked a mess because when S finally gave in (and pinned L to the ground) he stood over his face, bleeding.

S is the most harmless creature you could imagine, but I think that is exactly what threatens L. He envies S's quiet (probably inaccurately construed as "stable") nature and his position in Phase 3 (L was relegated to Phase 2 after his latest expulsion from school).

L is at a crucial stage in his life. Not only is he entering adolescence (as if that isn't enough grief), but this week marked his first full year here. He remembered to the day. A childhood marked by relationships temporary and sporadic: abandonment before ten, followed by various four month stints in state-run homes. Is it any wonder that he is struggling to develop "normal" relationships with those around him?

I was due to look after the boys following the lunchtime incident, and I tried to ask L about his motivations. He behaved well and we had an enjoyable time together, until the moment he put his hand to my nose and said proudly "that's S' blood".

At the disciplinary meeting the following day, he showed no remorse. Back sharply arched in his customary way (it's a habit developed on the street) he refused to accept any responsibility, although it was clear from the testimony of observers that he was solely to blame. Staring at the floor, one of the team told him how much he was loved and reminded him a little about his past and how his mum had abandoned him. He nodded slowly, eyes red with the beginning of tears. "And who will never abandon you?" she asked him. "God will never abandon me" he said in a broken voice.

L hugged each of the team and he then apologized to S. He was given a discipline for the following week. Let's see how it goes.

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