Tuesday nights at Juvie: a farewell note to Sean, Kevin and Demarcus
by Nick Ippolito on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 10:50pm ·
So tonight Ryan Paravecchio led our 630 yoga class, and I demonstrated postures and offered support and encouragement. 7 boys were there. 3 boys who were in the unit for a long time were gone, and replaced by 3 new boys. The transience is a fact of life there: the kids get arrested and brought in. Then after a week or two or several months they get a court date where its decided whats next for them. For some of them its back home, for some its back into foster care, for others a group home. An unlucky few go on to "camp," which is basically junior-prison.
Its a flow that everyone seems to understand and accept, especially the kids. But I find myself missing those three kids that just left for points unknown: Sean, Kevin and Demarcus. You wouldnt find these three together in any other situation OTHER than incarceration. Sort of like the Breakfast Club. I dont know why they ended up in Juvie, dressed in sweatpants and sweatshirts 10 times too large for them, but there they were, standing in front of me on a mat every Tuesday for the past six weeks. Until they werent.
Demarcus is a smart kid; he asked a lot of questions and goofed around on his yoga mat. Before assuming any posture, he would always announce "Shit, I cant do that," but then he would and he did his postures beautifully. We both wear glasses, and I had noticed that he had gotten his fixed in the time he was there. One Tuesday the Joke of the Night seemed to be calling everyone Kunta Kinte. I dont know why they all found this so hilarious, and I jumped into it by sarcastically insisting that none of them knew who that was anyway. Demarcus explained to me exactly who Kunta Kinte was, and I pressed him further by asking him who the author of Roots was. He smiled and said Alex Haley. Nicely played young man.
Sean: also smart, and a big kid for his age, with the pimply face of a comic book fanboy or something. Like all of the boys, Sean craved attention, but his unique approach was to try a posture then discuss various ailments he thought he had and why he couldnt do the pose. "Nick, Nick, you see one arm is shorter than the other and I think I have scoliosis." "Trust me Sean, you dont have scoliosis." After time, I heard less and less of these excuses from him and he really did well, better then he probably thought. He showed me these little drawings he did of his family and I remarked to him about how much weight he lost.
Kevin said he was 17, but he had the face and build of a skinny 12 year old. He would get himself into a fit of giggles whenever one of the boys cracked a joke or made a noise during class. Laughter seemed like an emotional release for him. He showed Alyson a poem he wrote. The last two weeks I saw him he seemed a little more anxious and depressed. I'll never know why, but my guess is that he was dreading what was next for him.
All three of them were there last week, and this week they are gone from my vision. Its so strange that I feel this way, because you shouldnt want kids in juvenile hall any longer then they have to be. But I guess its the continuity that I will always find missing and I will always mourn the lost history that grew between each of us, no matter how abbreviated it may be. I will find a way of connecting with the three new kids that have just arrived, but I feel compelled to say my goodbyes to ones who came and went before them...
Sean: I hope you find your place in the world and you have gone someplace where someone loves you. Your family will love your drawings.
Demarcus: I saw a spark in you that will carry you far. Good luck Kunta Kinte.
Kevin: when the world seems like its crashing down on you, just laugh. A lot of people found their way through that way.
Namaste...until next Tuesday...