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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Asking The Tough Questions

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

     Once the bell had rung, signalling the end of the day, I invited Liam Prescott to sit opposite me at my desk. I had been noticing his odd behavior for a few weeks now, with him struggling to maintain eye contact with me during my lectures and not immediately leaping to answer every question that I presented like he used to. At the beginning of the semester, he was so full of life and eager to learn. Originally, I had chalked the change up to anxiety over the end-of-the-year finals. It’s not uncommon to see students getting nervous when a big exam or a project is on the horizon. However, I felt that something about this was different, due in no small part to the fact that he didn’t even bother to carry himself in the same way, slouching whenever he walked and slumping over in his chair during class. I decided to talk to him in person about it before calling his parents, just in case unresolved family drama was the reason for Liam’s behavior. “Can I help you, Mr. Diaz?” “I wanted to talk to you about your… behavior in class as of late.” I wasn’t sure of how to phrase it, but I didn’t want the kid to feel like he was being interrogated. Liam chuckled nervously. “Oh! That’s, uh… that’s nothing, really. I just have a lot on my mind.”. I decided to challenge him on that. “Oh, really? Well, I know that the school year’s about to end, and college is just one year away. It’s alright for you to be stressed, especially with final exams coming up an-” “I get it.”, he interrupted. “I appreciate your concern,” he said haltingly, picking at the sleeves of his jacket, “but it’s nothing, really. It’s just about, you know, college stuff…” There we were. I saw an opening and took it. “What about college? Do you not know where you want to go yet?” “No, I do. It’s just that…” Liam paused for a solid few seconds, staring down at his shoes while I studied him. He seemed so frail, almost physically struggling to get the remainder of his sentence out “My parents won’t like it very much”. My prediction was on point. I never would’ve guessed that the young man sitting in front of me would’ve been dealing with problems with his parents. I met them once at an Open House, and while they were a little uptight, they seemed to be very nice people. I wondered what they were like at home that made Liam so afraid of upsetting them. I did my best to not be too invasive with my questioning. The worst case scenario was that I was the only one that he could turn to and screwing this conversation up could inadvertently ruin this kid’s future. “I’m… so sorry about that,” I told him softly. “Do you mind… do you mind telling me more about it?” Liam closed his eyes for a while and continued. “My parents aren’t, you know, abusive or anything, alright? They’re not assholes, but… they don’t like my hobbies very much. Like, I like to draw in my free time, and I’m starting to get pretty good at it. There’s this really cool art school a few hours out from here and I would really like to go, but… my mom and dad feel like anything that isn’t related to science or law or whatever is a waste of time. They hate it when I focus on anything other than homework and I just try to do what they want but I hate it but I don’t want to let them down and I just can’t-” I put my hand on his shoulder and I told him to stop and calm down. I don’t think that he even noticed that he had started shaking and tearing up. “I’m so- I’m sorry, I just… what the hell am I supposed to do?” He lamented between sniffles. I wished that I knew what to tell him. I obviously couldn’t just tell him to stick it to his parents and to move on with his life, but I also couldn’t tell him to suck it up and that his parents knew what was best for him. I needed more time to think. I let Liam sit in his chair for a minute or so before continuing. “Liam, I want to help you, but I don’t even know if there’s anything that I could do”. He blew his nose into a tissue before responding. “It’s ok. I shouldn’t have broken down like this. Jesus, this is embarrassing.” he chuckled lightly. I was glad that he was still able to smile, at the very least. “No, it’s not ok. You shouldn’t be forced to do something that you don’t want to do!” “I told you, it’s ok. Like you said, you can’t do anything about it, so why try?” He started to slowly get up to leave. I wanted to stop him, but I felt that his mind was set. “Thanks for talking to me, Mr. Diaz. I’ll see you around!” With a weak smile, he grabbed his backpack and headed out of the door. I was stunned. That boy was going to go back to a house full of people who didn’t understand him, and I just let it happen. No, I thought to myself. I have to do something. I opened my laptop and looked Liam up in the student database. I found his student information right next to his profile picture. He looked so much more cheerful there, at the start of the school year. I wondered if he was just better at hiding his struggles back then. I found his emergency contact information, including his mother’s email address. Was I seriously going to do this? Would Liam still trust me after I told his mom everything? Well, I thought, I won’t tell her about her son and I’s discussion. I didn’t want to make him out as some brat who was mouthing off behind his parents’ back.I decided to only write about my observations of him in class; the moodiness, the lethargy, etc. Before I started typing, I closed my eyes and hoped to God that this wouldn’t make things worse. Liam was all alone in that house. Maybe the email would start a dialogue, but maybe it would also escalate things further. Was it worth it? I stared at the blank document for a while. I thought about how empty that kid looked and sounded. I thought about how broken I would feel if I wasn’t allowed to follow my own passion. I then answered my own question: Yes. I smiled as I began to type: Dear Mrs. Prescott...

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jenripet
06 ene 2020

This was definitely my favorite! you have to have a Part 2, so we can see what happened

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