At the beginning of the week, I was dithering about what to write next… should I write about my great day trip with some friends to see Mary Poppins on Broadway? (I don’t know, I forgot to ask my friends if I could post their pictures, and posts are always more fun with pictures) Should I write an update on the set design for the play at my school? Not too much progress there, except for the giant mushroom, which is still only a skin…
And then my little 8th grade friend, “Rose,” came into the office looking for an administrator. She sat down and was more than willing to talk to me while we waited for the AP to arrive. Was something going on with another student? No. A teacher? “No, I’m just so stressed out,” she said, “I can’t take it. I want to get switched out of school and get home tutored. I’m tryin to do my homework, and come to class, and not talk back and it’s HARD when these teachers are gettin in my face, askin me stuff.”
No one, it seems, ever taught her appropriate coping skills.
And trust me, a lack of appropriate coping skills is the least of the problems she’s inherited from her home environment. We talked about when she told off an adult a few weeks ago. I suggested that there are times in life when you disagree with someone, but it just doesn’t serve your purpose to say anything about it, especially using your most colorful language. She said she truly believes that, although she has been trying to keep her mouth shut when necessary, if she doesn’t speak her mind, then she’s not being “true.”
I nodded. I could see her point, but in this case, being “true” was working against her. Something about her use of the word "true" bothered me… as if choosing not to speak in this case would make her “false,” as in, a liar. It seems that she has much experience with liars.
The AP came in, and she poured her heart out to him, too. Ironically, all this from a girl who professes to not want to talk to anyone – not want to tell anyone anything about her life or her family. He listened patiently, and validated what she was saying by summing it up every so often. I could hear quite clearly through the door. She was trying really hard to continue doing the right thing. She said she never was in school this long before, but she was trying really hard because “you all are so nice to me, and you made my birthday the best ever” (a few of us gave her small gifts), “…and you don’t want to disappoint us,” he said. She dissolved into tears. I heard sniffling from my side of the door. I could tell she was nodding. He is a good listener.
He told her to try being like a racehorse with blinders on… keep focused on the goal, and don’t look to the sides and get distracted. She has a tough situation at home, but she can get there, she just has to stay focused. He told her that he was there to help. She came out of his office wiping her eyes. I told her to come down at lunch time any day she wanted. She went to class when the bell rang, but I couldn’t get her out of my mind for the next two days.
If I could just WILL her to succeed, I would. If I could explain to her that her life can be anything that she wants it to be, I would do it tomorrow, but in reality, all I can do is be there, watch, and wait.
Rose, I’m rooting for you.