Friday afternoon, just after lunch, the school counsellor asks me to drive with him out to a home visit. (This is not a picture of the home, but an example of what a nice home in our neighborhood looks like. Fresh coat of paint, flowers, grass, glass in the windows--these aren't things you see on every house.)
In the future, he says, we should probably make home visits before lunch because gang members aren't awake then
Hmm, good idea.
We head down the street, two white nicely-dressed adults in my little-too-new car, and start searching down 7th Street in San Bernardino. Interesting fact, he says, I once served on a jury for an attempted triple-homicide by the 7th street gang
The street dead-ends
before we get to the house number so we jog around through a few alleys. Shouldn't be too much longer, now.
Back on the street we're looking for, numbers are getting closer, and I only see a couple of house numbers painted on cardboard strips next to the front doors. What house number is that?
"Beware of Dog," I read.
A group of four big guys in undershirts are sticking their heads in a doorless Honda. I go past them, then make a U-turn in the street to head back towards them. We roll down the windows and the counsellor confirms, Yep, those are the twin boys we're looking for.
They've been truant for 32 school days. 33, the boy wearing the shorts from his PE school uniform corrects him.
What, they keep track?
A mother comes out of the house. She makes these faces of meth
look gorgeous. My daughter has more teeth than she does. Her upper lip is swollen, sagging, and purple. She looks like she is in her early seventies but is probably not even 40.
We shake hands and explain the law about students being truant.
Yeah, I was reading a letter from the school, she says, but I didn't finish it.
Right. She wants them to go to a different school because she's afraid they'll get jumped at ours.
These are big boys. I wonder if they didn't try to jump a few kids themselves.
A girl wanders out from the house, about 15, dressed in sweatpants and fuzzy blue slippers. She's going to the store. Here's two dollars.
I wonder if the toddler trying to run into the street is hers.
The counsellor makes an appointment for the mother to meet with the principal. Time to get back.
Well, boys and girls, let's review. Stay in school. Don't use drugs.
Next week we'll talk about teen pregnancy and how to solve two-step algebraic equations by playing West Side vs. East Side. Have a good weekend.