The father of one of my girl’s son, (her baby daddy) was killed today.
She was so sad.
She had such sad sad eyes.
When we started the class she was sitting on the side estranged from the group.
You could see that something was going on.
You could see the trauma in her face.
We worked with my puppets again, and as the girls were creating scenes she slowly came closer and closer until she eventually pulled her chair up close to one of the groups.
“Do you want to join the scene?” I asked her.
“No I'm good,” she said.
I sat down on the chair next to her, and put my arm around her and said, “I'm really happy you came to class today. I appreciate that you showed up.”
She opened her eyes and looked at me and said, “Did they tell you what happened?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Oh,” she said.
“I'm so sorry for your loss,” I add.
“It's ok,” she answered.
Actually, I thought, it is so NOT ok.
These kids are so used to people being torn out of their lives that it might seem that it is ok.
As the class continued she slowly started to participate, she loosened up but her eyes still stayed so sad.
I am trying to get the entire group permission to come to LISTEN next Sunday.
It seems like they will only allow four out of the eleven.
This puts me in a horrible position.
I will be giving a huge treat to less than half the group.
Part of me thinks that maybe I shouldn't take anybody, but then that's not fair for the ones who are allowed to go out.
I always try and believe in being completely transparent with these kids, so I tell them my conflict.
I tell them how bad I feel, and I tell them what I tell them again and again and again: this is why you do not want to be here, this is why you want to come to my program once you get out.
I tell them, “I do not read your files, I asked for all of you to come.”
Probation told me that based on what the judge wrote about you, they will decide who they let come.
Two girls immediately say,
“I am not going the judge hates me.”
I smile gently, “well I don’t hate you,” hoping that makes them feel a little better.
“I am a bad person” one says, “they are not going to let me go.”
“I am a situation,” the 5-month pregnant one says, “I sure as fuck aint going.”
“Hold on,” I say.
“YOU are not a bad person,” you maybe did something bad.
“And you,” I look at the pregnant one, “you are not a situation, you have a situation going on,” and I point to her belly and for some reason that makes everyone laugh.
We are back on track, but I feel so incredibly sad.
I used to be able to bring snacks every session.
They now do not allow it, and probation is coming down really hard on me.
But they don’t know middle-eastern women; we do not go down without a fight.
I've been calling and begging and asking.
Now they are willing to let me bring snacks at the end of the 10-week session.
This too I must tell the girls today.
I soften it by saying, “hey you know what, if I'm allowed to bring food only once we're going to make that one time count.”
“Not just pizza,” I say.
“I will bring in really good food.”
One of the girls asks, “Chipotle?”
I giggle and say, “maybe.”
“Let’s think about it and make it super special.”
I sound like I am 10 years old. I am trying so hard.
It's not an easy day.
One girl got bad news, and I am the bearer of no good news.
Yet the scenes are hilarious, they do the writing exercises, and all in all it is a good vibe.
“Write three things that make you happy,” I ask them.
- my son
- my family
In the final ending circle someone says, “Ms., you look sad,” and I say, “I'm not sad, I'm just really tired and I'm frustrated that I can't bring all of you to the show in the 30th.”
Sad eyes looks at me and smiles.
“Can you bring us something from the show?”
“Like what,” I ask?
I didn’t even think of that.
“A t-shirt?” she asks.
“Yes!” I say. I can do that, and I am so happy.
“I can also bring you the playbill,” I add.
“What's a playbill?” one asks.
I explain, and I tell them that it’s a paper that the names of the performers and singers and dancers will be on.
And I add, “You know some of you will not be there but you will be there in spirit, and in the playbill I will write the date of your final presentation and invite people to come to camp to see you.”
I am loving my new idea.
“Do you think they will drag their asses up here to see us?” someone asks.
“I don't think they will, I know they will,” I say.
Little does she know how worried, stressed, and hard the entire Advot Project team is working to get people to the Broad Stage on Octoeber 30th.
“I promise you they will come,” I say.
“Can you bring us wristbands?” someone asks.
“Yes, I can do that too,” I say.
How the hell she knows that we will have wristbands, God only knows.
Then one says, “did you know Ms. that it's my birthday today?”
We sing happy birthday.
I sing it in Hebrew, and they love it.
On my way out I ask and plead and beg the director to let me bring birthday cupcakes next week.
She says yes. What else can she do at this point?
I hug and kiss her, she pulls back a little, afraid that my crazy might just be contagious.
As I am walking out I see my sad eyed girl.
She says, “don't worry Ms. the show on the 30th is going to be fine.”
I look at her and say, “sweetheart you will be fine too.”
“I know,” she says.
We hug, and in that moment I know exactly why I do what I do. And why it is so incredibly important.
You see this is why you must come on October 30th, because this is how we will make it fine. Actually, this is how we will make it better.
Join me, and The Advot Project on October 30th for LISTEN at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
Click here to donate, purchase and/or sponsor tickets: advot.eventbrite.com