Year one in the Bronx, over and done. Hard to believe. It takes me back to a simpler time, three supervisors ago (that’s right, three in one year) to my first week.
Two cases stand out in my mind. One of those families, I met for the first time at a school visit. The “Problem Child” had gotten drunk at school, and taken off with a couple of guys. So I met with the mom, the previously mentioned Problem Child, the principal, a teacher, the guidance counselor, and three out of four siblings. I asked some homeless guys if they wanted to come join, but it seemed that they were busy.
At that meeting, it was revealed that this girl might have been sexually assaulted. So mom, Problem Child, siblings, and myself headed off to the precinct.
The cops took a report and told us to take her to the hospital. So I rode in an ambulance with Problem Child. I waited with her until her mother and the rest of the crew arrived. I bonded with the family while she spoke with doctors and hospital social workers, and got home around midnight.
A couple of days later, I got a call from another client I had just met. Other Mom and Other Problem Child came in for a meeting. OPC stormed out, went home, started cutting herself and tearing up the house. This included throwing things at the eight month old grandchild living there.
OM called 911. We all ended up in the psychiatric ER. If you’ve never been to a psych ward in the Bronx, you should really check it out. Simply breathtaking.
OM declined to have OPC admitted. The next day, OPC did it again. This time, when OM called 911, OPC stayed in the psych ward overnight.
For those of us keeping score at home, that’s five days at work, one school visit, one precinct visit, and three trips to the emergency room.
That was a year ago. Both of those families are still with me. OPC has become something of a favorite. I know I shouldn’t have those, but I do. This girl is 14 and hilarious. She writes poetry, and is incredibly insightful. Attempting to counsel her mother is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. But this girl has promise in her, which I tell her as often as I can.
She came in today, right on time. And angry. She’s always angry. Her mother refused to come in with her. Her mother has been telling her that she wants her out of the house. “What kind of a mother does that?” Out of the mouth of a 14 year old.
We talked. I asked her what she wanted to tell her mother. She said nothing. I made a play-doh figure of her mother. She smashed it. We laughed. All she wants is to get out of that house. And I wish I could make that happen for her.
I almost cried at the end of the day. I went out and got tipsy on red wine with my friends. All I could think of was the fact that I got to go out and unwind, take care of myself, and had to send this kid home to a chaotic household where no one wants her.
Some days even I can’t see the humor.