His light blue eyes are the first feature people usually notice.
A set of straight, bright white choppers and some puffy lips and you got yer-self what I call a "pretty boy".
Over the years that I've been working with juvenile offenders I've had a couple that remind me of my son.
They have a certain something that is familiar to me
Either they possess similar good looks or maybe it's the way they carry themselves...
whatever it is, it almost always guarantees that I'll instantly feel a connection, a like, to that certain youth.
My current Thursday night class has a such a kid.
He looks like a young (pre-whatever that tabloid frenzy that hit some years back) Rob Lowe.
His eyes and his teeth look just like Buttercup's.
His worker called before the first class started and asked a favor.."mother this one a bit more than the usual" he requested "he really needs it".
It was piece of cake seeing as mothering him felt almost as easy as mothering my dear Buttercup.
He lapped up the attention and has ( over the course of a couple of classes) blossomed into a full blown well behaved, polite and helpful, good kid.
Yesterday we were making homemade spaghetti sauce.
He wasn't much liking that I requested that they all wear aprons.
He flatly refused asking me to guess how much his "saaa-weet" outfit cost.
"I don't want to hear any boo-hooin when your clothes get all spaghetti sauce splashed" I tell him when he continues to resist.
"That perdy outfit is going to be worthless when it's splattered with red stains." I caution, trying to sway him to obey.
He doesn't budge.
Then he talks me into a wager.
(I know I shouldn't "bet", but I can't help myself)
I say he owes me 50 cents
Game on pal.
We even shake on it.
We had 10 youth in class last night, that's a whole lotta loveables at one time. They were crowded around the four working stoves.
The betting loveable was cooking next to two girls and was managing to stay sauce free.
When I'd check in with his group he'd turn and puff out his clean chest to show me.
"See ma, no stains"...
"Yikes" I say "I may have to borrow a buck".
They all comment on how I don't (and shouldn't) bring a purse to class.
The betting loveable's worker comes in to check on his progress.
I tell him of our bet.
He frowns and says "Beth, should you be teaching the kids about illegal things like making bets?"
"Walk on by" I tell him "walk on by".
After the worker is done checking out our class and his client(s) behavior he says a few things more and then leaves with "have a good weekend, stay outta trouble, if you need me for anything, call me".
"I always get nervous when he comes" the loveable tells his stove mates.
"He reminds me of a cop"... he continues.
One of the girls at the stove where the betting loveable is working has her sauce's heat source on BLAST and suddenly it acts like tomato sauce on BLAST acts and without warning the stuff ERUPTS like a TOMATO VOLCANO....
She gets it on her face and in her hair.
And of course her apron is full of splots as well.
The betting loveable jumped when he saw it begin to happen.
His quick reflexes save his shirt.
"HEY" he yelled to me.
When I turned to look he flashed a huge grin and used both thumbs to point at his clean shirt.
At the end of the evening he chipped in and cleaned up messes that weren't his own.
He put stuff up and away and took a huge amount of aftercare off my plate.
I really appreciated all his help.
I rewarded him with two MickyD's gift cards (two so he could take his girl out to eat, yo) and I told him "you did a really great job tonight with your food and I appreciate the leadership role you took on by doing all that extra clean up. You will have a really good case note for this class".
When they were about to walk downstairs and out into the cars that were waiting for them I remembered that I owed him a buck.
I called to my co-worker asking to borrow a dollar.
"My worker already gave me a buck" the betting loveable told me.
"He said he figured I'd win".
"Thank you, this was a lot of fun" he said as he bolted down the stairs taking two at a time balancing in one hand his pan of homemade spaghetti.
I just love it when they fly like that.
“Self-esteem creates natural highs. Knowing that you're lovable helps you to love more. Knowing that you're important helps you to make a difference to to others. Knowing that you are capable empowers you to create more. Knowing that you're valuable and that you have a special place in the universe is a serene spiritual joy in itself.” ~ Louise Hart