Too many homes are volatile and filled with children who are watchful and worried. Living in a constant state of fight or flight alters physical and mental health. Energy that should be spent growing strong minds and bodies is diverted so that these children can remain on high alert.
I really have no idea of what it is like to live like this. I am aware though that too many of the young people I work with do. I am humbled when a student shares a glimpse of this life with me. For a person who feels so vulnerable to reveal unvarnished truth takes an unfathomable leap of faith. If I blow it, they may not take a another risk in sharing for a very long time.
In school settings these kids who are so incredibly vulnerable, can present in ways that look defiant, belligerent, and completely disinterested in learning. Smokescreens to prevent others from seeing how helpless they feel, the behaviors do their job of keeping adults at a distance. These actions are meant as self-defense, learned coping mechanisms for survival. Survival, not success.
I look at young people differently now than I once did. I see them as individuals with stories. I see their behaviors are a result of experiences, both good and bad. I see that some of the kids who require me to make a conscious effort to approach and greet them despite an urge to turn away, end up being the ones who touch me the deepest. I see survivors, and I am determined to walk alongside them so that they can see success.
This piece is a love letter to the kids I work with written in response to the writing prompt "What was the last thing that scared you?" I am scared for the young people---for those who live in poverty and those who live in danger. (This piece is not intended as biographical information on any particular student, but rather to give a feel for what many kids go through.)
I saw an interesting video here which is worth watching. Several photographers were told different stories about the man they were about to photograph. One heard he was a hero, another that he was struggling to remain sober, still others heard additional stories. The portraits that resulted, depended upon the way each photographer saw the person based on his/her beliefs about the man's life story.
Food for thought. May we all see each other through kinder eyes.
We all have a story, don't we? And the longer I live and the more stories I hear, I become more aware of what a blessing, what a comfort, what a gift, more rare than I knew in my naivety, a stable, loving home in which to grow up was. The children who come into your sphere of influence are blessed for it, I'm sure. God bless you for what you extend to them.ReplyDelete
Isn't it the truth that when we are lucky to grow up safe and loved we don't have any idea how much we take for granted.ReplyDelete
Truth be told, my job is more joy than labor. It is where I am meant to be.
These kids are so lucky to have you. I love that you are honoring each child's story.ReplyDelete
Thanks. The honor is just being allowed into their worlds.Delete
You make an excellent, emotional point. I'm scared for mine too. I teach in a 100% free gov lunch school (as you know based on income below the poverty line). I don't think enough about how scared for them I am. I spend too much time getting frustrated with them. Fight or flight constantly takes its toll, another great point. Thanks for visiting my blog.ReplyDelete
It does take its toll, but it does have its own rewards too. Sometimes it feels like there is too much time between those rewards, but they are there!Delete
My daughter is a mentor in a program for all freshmen at our high school. She has heard some eye opening stories from the kids in her group, and it has strengthened her resolve to have a career that will allow her to change the world. I hope she can.ReplyDelete
We purposely chose the most diverse high school in town for our kids. Knowing that not everyone was given the same advantages they were, has served them well.Delete
If your beautiful daughter is thinking social work programs, I have strong feelings about those in KS. Would be happy to visit with her any time.
She's aiming for Supreme Court Justice, but she has to start somewhere! :)Delete
Can't help her much there, but I will stay tuned! Sounds like a wonderful road ahead.Delete
That video. Wow. What a powerful way to make the point that perception really is everything and that people are not defined by one aspect of their life, or by what they do for a living. I agree with Mamarific, the kids are very lucky to have such a caring person, willing to get to know them and see who they really are, in their life. I just loved this post.ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed it. I thought the video was very thought provoking without being accusatory. Made it more palatable to reflect on what lens I use personally. I do fairly well with my young people---less well dealing with adults in the outside world.Delete
Wow! You sound like a wonderful person that they have in their lives. Such a blessing. More people need persons like you to influence them because it is sad that so many do not have that type of relationship with anyone.ReplyDelete
So many of us--kids and adults--seem to be feeling alone these days. It hurts my heart because I feel like healthy relationships are key to so much of success in life.Delete
It just kills me that all children do not grow up feeling safe and nurtured. Everyone deserves that very basic comfort.ReplyDelete