I love my kids.
My 7th graders.
I love them and I've only known them 3 weeks. Half of them don't even know me yet. They've seen me in the hallways, interrupting their classes, talking to their teachers. But I've been so overworked with administrative duties that have nothing to do with what I just earned a Master's degree to do that I've only had an opportunity to get in the classroom and introduce myself to half of the 7th grade.
So only half of them know that it's my job to get them through the rest of their middle school career in as much of one piece as possible. Only half of them know that if they need someone to talk to, I'm it and will be for the rest of their middle school career. Only half of them are aware of the fact that I have so many tools at my disposal that I can't wait to use to help them be the great students they're destined to be.
I talk about them and think of them in very high esteem, but that doesn't make me unaware of the realities of their lives. They're 12 and 13 and they want to be liked by their friends, and the girls want boys to see them and boys want the girls to be interested in them and some of the girls want some of the other girls to be interested in them in some way that's more than friendship but really unfamiliar and some of the boys want to express themselves in ways that others might think is just too feminine. That's just the tip of the iceberg. They got a lot going on that's so much more basic and real than being the great students they have the capabilities of being.
But in my 3, going on 4 weeks as their counselor, I've already had a host of issues to deal with. Already had to call DCS on an abusive parent; been told to expect to call DCS again on another family who does drugs and makes their child sick. That's the part of my job I hate, but that I know is so important.
I'm in the middle of reading a post at CFC called "Memories, survival and safety." The author is detailing a traumatic event that transpired between herself and her grandfather. And I found myself struggling to read it, especially the parts where she talks about being young and wishing she had the guts to tell anyone what had happened to her, but feeling like it had happened to her because she was a bad little girl.
I could see any one of my 7th graders experiencing something like that and being afraid to tell. It would kill me if in 2 years, once my 7th graders are 9th graders at the local high school, I discovered one of them had been hurt at any point while they were mine and didn't know they could come tell me. But you know, it'd kill me to know any of them were being hurt anyway.
Today, one of the girls who is in the half of the 7th grade that knows me and knows I'm their counselor stopped by to talk. She's experiencing some growing pains; she feels loved less by her mother in comparison to her sisters. She longs for the stability and love her grandmother provided. She's not in danger, really, just needs to know somebody out there cares.
I asked her if she wanted to talk about things she might do to open up lines of communication with her mother and she said, "No. I just wanted to talk to you about it. That makes me feel better. I trust you."
I joke about the crazy things these kids do. I even pretend sometimes that I'm not as attached to them as I am, but when a student tells you something like that, you can't help but be grateful to them and to whoever or whatever offered you the chance to sit in that chair and be the one they trust.