The Struggles of Some Boys – Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the struggle of a boy in Allendale who cannot read and understand.

Here’s the story of another young man who has a different challenge:

Struggle with His Emotions

On the same day I was dealing with the young man above, another boy the same age was having serious attitude and respect issues. I can put up with kids talking and getting loud (to a point), but not with disrespect to leaders. I had pulled him aside after he smart-mouthed to a volunteer, but he refused to talk to me, or even look at me.

I could not get through to him. I explained that I was going to write him up, and if he still refused to engage us in dialogue, he would be suspended. After 5-10 long minutes of my best efforts, I finally got a slight acknowledgment out of him. Progress!

(This refusal to talk is common among the kids at the Club, especially with the boys. When they get mad, they often storm off, refuse to look at you, or even pull their shirts over their face and clam up. In the heat of the moment, they’ll do everything but talk to you. And after writing the first draft of this post, I read an article about how young boys especially need help dealing with negative emotions.)

When this boy was getting picked up, I was about to tell his dad about the issues we had with him. But when I walked up to his truck, I heard Dad yell things like, “Get in the back seat or I’ll beat the _______ out of you! Boy, you heard me; get your ______ back there! Don’t make me slap the ______ out of you!”

Okaaaaaay. I kept my mouth shut. I saw all too clearly why this boy could not communicate his emotions. He had never been taught how to, or seen a healthy model.

The Rest of the Story

The first boy comes every day (except for being suspended for the time he hit another boy – “He hit me first,” was his reasoning), and continues to try to do his school work, but to little avail.

The second boy has not returned. The interesting thing is that this boy is one of the handful of members whose parents earn more than $40,000 per year. Obviously, money does not solve all problems.

I don’t know what the future holds, but if I had to bet money, I would say that neither of them are going to “make it.” If a boy cannot read close to grade level by 3rd grade, he probably will not catch up. If a boy isn’t learning to control his emotions at age 9, will he learn on his own by age 15? Nope.

What does their future look like? Well, I think they are doomed to fail.

That is, unless God rescues them.

The only hope for these boys, and for all the children inAllendale, is in the power of the gospel to rescue and to change. Pray for God’s mercy on this next generation.

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10 responses to “The Struggles of Some Boys – Part 2”

  1. Terri says :

    Joey,
    I have a book I think will shed a lot of light on the culture & mindset of children coming from an impoverished background. Have you read Ruby Payne's “Framework for Understanding Poverty”? When I started volunteering at Frazee, a friend shared this with me, and it opened my eyes in a big way to why these kids respond the ways they do and how their culture has trained them in a way that is so different from the way many of us were raised. It is written largely from an educator's point of view, and I am NOT an educator by any means, but it explains these principles in a way that a non-educator can grasp.

    I'll bring the book (and 2 others by Payne) to church tomorrow and send them home with Elijah. Will be very interested to hear what you think after reading it.

  2. Michelle Castle says :

    Joey,
    I came across your blog through a list of CM blogs recently. I subscribed because I run a small afterschool program at our church, and I can identify with a lot of what you write about the Club. God bless your ministry!

  3. Joey Espinosa says :

    Thanks, Terri. I look forward to those books. Sorry we missed you Sunday. We were all down here in Allendale.

    Thanks, Michelle. I know that you, too, have a crucial ministry. May God bless yours as well.

  4. Kristen Belflower says :

    Lindsey told me about your blog, so I came to check it out. Great job, by the way. I look forward to keeping up with it.

    When I read this post, I immediately thought about Ruby Payne – that will be some insightful information for you. I also recently took a class on educating boys. One book that was recommended was Teaching the Male Brain by Abigail James. I haven't read it, but the teacher referenced it a lot. We learned that boys' brains are often several grade levels behind in reading until they hit 2nd or 3rd grade. The situation you are describing obviously has more issues, but with boys being behind girls developmentally, schools often set them up for defeat. Hopefully this boy's situation will improve. I know sometimes it feels overwhelming.

    Good luck with all you're doing. I know they are thankful to have you!

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