I love my job as I have stated before. But yesterday was the toughest day in a stretch of tough days...
All my clients are teenagers and over half are teen males. I adore them all. But the boys break my heart at times.
These past 2 weeks all my clients (4) at one particular school have been in ISS (in school suspension). Some have had the school file beyond control charges against them. When I meet with the staff, they are angry with these kids, very very angry. They tell me they have given up on them, in front of them. The staff tells me in private, the kids are pulling a fast one with me and are not telling me the truth in our sessions; that they are wasting my time; that there is no help or hope for these boys.
They are not in my sessions. They do not see when a "macho punk" breaks down and cries, asking me politely for tissues which I go get. They don't see the pain and despair in their eyes when they are talking about how they are afraid the judge is going to remove them from their homes and send them away. They don't know that underneath the bravado, there is a wounded child wanting some one to listen without judging.
Also they never get to hear the funny, cute stories. They never get to witness when one of the boys realizes some truth for the first time and their eyes light up and they beam. The never get to see how they respond to positive reinforcement or praise for accepting responsibility for their actions.
I know at times they lie to me. Everyone lies. But I figure that it will take a while before they realize they can tell me the truth and know I will not yell at them; that I will accept it and help them to figure out what to do to rectify the situation.
The staff is not there when I go into the homes and see the barren shelves and no food in the house. Or when the parents sit there, struggling to provide for their kids when they have no money, no job, no way out of the poverty cycle; when the parents depend on the kids to help with the bills, help with the chores, help with survival.
I don't blame the staff. They are overwhelmed. They have so little time and so many kids. One staff member was in tears yesterday. I could see the fatigue and frustration in her eyes as she met me to take my client back to ISS. I feel for them too. I could not do their job any more than they would want to do mine. We all have our place in these boys' lives. I know they need discipline, I know they need to be accountable for their actions, I know they lie and deflect and at times hate therapy. But I also know I can't give up on them when everyone else has. Too many people never gave up on me and while I can never repay them, I can take their compassion and mercy forward and gift it to the boys as it was gifted to me.
They are not bad boys. They are hurting boys...