I am 40 years old. This day of work has been curious. I have had two students in the high school where I am employed tell me their deepest troubles. One has been treading water for too long. She has had a rough upbringing and in trying to survive her lot at such a young age, she is pregnant and hooked on drugs. She thinks she has a venereal disease tooHelp for Teens at PP. This is not a story that catches me off guard anymore, even in a school with high achievers jacked with money. Yes, we have a school nurse, but these kids aren't about to go through the "appropriate" web of hierarchal channels. They have seen the mess that makes. Already their trust is broken. They are not about to enter a system that grinds it to sand and blows it away.
I am a magnet for these kids. I am an open book. They know that I have had hard times, I have taken drugs, partied too hard, hit the ground hard- unable to get up at times. They know I was abused. I tell them so that they can see that it is okay to own that and share it without shame. I have made it a point to be plain with them. I take an interest and ask questions which elicit guarded, but honest answers. The more questions I have asked of the students and the more they have seen that it always remains confidential (minus the overt), the more I am invited into the labyrinth of teen-hood in the 21st century. I am not surprised although I strongly feel that I should be, that not all that much has changed. The worst of it is how little has been done in all of the years since I was their age, to do more than just talk about abuse, drugs, pregnancy, mental illness, but to act in ways that allow for them to trust adults enough to have open and honest dialogue that leads to growth, opportunity and finally, foundational building blocks.
Today, between classes, just as I am headed off to retrieve a student I am working with in the Special Ed Department, a young man who talks with me often at lunch time about his general confusion about how to "be" tells me, with very little introduction, that he has been touching his 10 year old cousin in a grossly inappropriate way. This stops me dead in my tracks. I have not heard this one before.
I find someone to take my student for a walk citing the need to exercise the legality of mandatory reportingWhat's that?. I would so much rather talk with this student for hours, laying a foundation for him to build his own inquiries about his actions. I want him to have the chance to think about why he has entered into this behavior before he is shuffled around the system and his thought process gets watered down. We talk for a while- for just as long as I can steal from upper management before I have to hand him over. I find that I am asking him many of the same questions I had once asked my step father-my abuser. I am blown away by the wonder of having the opportunity to engage in this conversation more than once in my life, when many people will never touch upon anything like it.
In the evening, after talking a walk to unwind my gnarled brain, I look at the day in short- not allowing my brain to become too involved. My conclusion, always best reached by short analysis, is that this is life. I cannot make everyone get on board with my way of thinking, so I will have to do what I can to find and hold my own truth and compassion and to find organic connection to all. My entire spiritual understanding boils down to the fact that, though it sounds ridiculously cliche, we are truly ONE. What I do effects "all" and what "all" do, effects me. Simple, with a whole lot of responsibility placed on everyones' shoulders I believe it can be seen to fruition. I will work within that framework for the rest of my life.