Talking to one of my kiddos, he tells me he wants two new tattoos. One on each arm: Trust and Faith, because he has learned that is what keeps him going. He also revealed he wants to be a therapist someday. He wants to help others because he knows what it is like to come up through the system and to grow up wounded. Plus he says he can make big money. I laughed and said "well make sure you become a psychologist and not a clinical social worker then!" he laughed too...
But it was a nice moment. I had a couple of those with my kiddos. One was angry and took it out on me for about 15 minutes and I realized we were getting nowhere, so I cut the session short and rescheduled for the next day. I asked her to give me a chance tomorrow. Then I tossed and turned all night trying to figure out how to address the disrespect and anger, the hurt she must have been feeling, trying to be firm but still caring...
When I saw her the next day I greeted her as usual and as we walked across the hall, she apologized to me. Told me she was having a bad day and had taken it out on me and was sorry. I validated her feelings and praised her for be accountable for her actions. We talked more that day than we had in awhile. She gave me a chance and I gave her one as well.
My third kiddo has been moved, disrupted again in foster care. We talked about a lot of things. He asked me if God was angry at him. Why? I asked. He said "I pray and pray and He turns his back on me and never answers my prayers." This led to a discussion of sometimes even God says NO and we don't know why. This kid is processing the murder of his dad. We relate because we both grew up as teenagers without dads. He told me I was one of the few people who ever showed up when I said I would. He told me trust is hard for him. He also said he has realized its not the environment that creates the trouble in his life, its his choices. He can choose trouble or not. I told him he was becoming a fine man that his father would have been proud of him.
Life is bittersweet at times. Making these connections is both beautiful and heartbreaking. I am honored and humbled at the trust and faith these kids place in me. I am by no means a hero, I am so afraid of wounding them further. I feel that sometimes I am too easy on them, not firm enough. I am trying to find that balance of firmness and boundaries but also of caring and believing.
It is about choices. Choosing to believe them. Choosing to believe in them. To see beyond the anger, the fear, the tough exteriors into the scared and scarred hearts.
I have discovered my strength is also my biggest weakness. Loving.
Its worth the risk though... because in the end there is trust and faith to see me through.