Wednesday, September 9, 2009

When a teenager allows you to enter their world...

For three years, I have been working at a public high school. No, I'm not a teacher and I'm not a high school counselor.  I work in the counseling office as an Administrative Assistant. That is, I register new families with students, cover for the Attendance office and I utilize my keyboard and computer skills to help run my department. I have a busy and demanding job.

I love my job.

What gives me the greatest joy is my interaction with the students.  It took a while for me to get used to being called "Mrs. ---", instead of Debby.  For the most part, the kids are great.  They are my daily reminder that much of my son's behavior is typical-- procrastination, drama, laziness and working the system.  I see it with students who are "At Risk",  to students who are college-bound.  They are young adults, whose brains haven't fully matured. Some of the boys have heavy beards and deep voices. Some of the freshmen boys look like little kids-- wide-eyed and timid, around me. It's exciting that the class of 2010 are kids I've known since their freshmen year.

I have a heart for the kids who are invisble-- the ones who dress to fit in to certain groups-- the "Emos", the "Vampires" (yep, we have them...and they cut themselves and drink each other's blood), and other groups who stand out because they look and dress differently.  These are the kids that I pay particular attention to look right into their eyes and to give them the kind of smile that says "I see you, and I care about you."

I also know many of their family stories-- I see their records and I meet their parents. Surprisingly, some of the kids who wear bright orange hair and have pierced lips have parents that look the stereo type "normal". Working in a high school has broken many of my (incorrect) perceptions that kids who get into trouble are a result of lousy parenting.

It's so not true.  Yes, I see dysfunctional families, and there are some parents I wish I could grab and drag into an addiction treatment center-- to see a young person in the throes of detox and writhing in pain. I want to scream at them that they are in denial and to LISTEN to the counselors, when we see the signs that their child is failing school...and falling in with the wrong crowd. That's another story I have been writing in my head for some time...

My point, today (during my lunch break) is that I had an interaction with a student I have known for three years. I will call him "KOP" ( for kid on probation).  KOP comes from parents who appear like "normal" and educated people. Both work, and the mom and I have always had pleasant interactions. Just recently the parents separated and are headed into a divorce. I've told KOP's mom my son's story, hoping she might want to open up to me. So far, she hasn't.

Her son, however, "KOP" opened up to me, today-- hence, the title of this blog.  KOP is being drug-tested because he was expelled from our school, last year, for having alcohol in his locker, for trying to sell it to a minor and for shoplifting.  I had prayed that this was his cry for help.

He is back, this year, having appealed to the school board. He has a list of things he must comply with, including random drug testing.  Last week, he got upset with a teacher and left the classroom. In frustration, he punched  his fist through a glass window. I heard it, and saw the look on his face. He was horrified at what happened -- and then he broke down a cried like a young boy-- not the 16 year old boy he is now. He wasn't injured, and luckily, nobody else was. I think it scared him that it happened.

Today, he had a hall pass and asked if he could hang out in my office to "cool off".

I've been praying that God would give me opportunities like this--  in a 45 minutes time frame, we talked (in between my answering phones and handling the Attendance Office). 

KOP shared stories with me that would make most mom's toes curl. Strange, my son has de-sensitized me to these stories.

I listened to him. We connected. He admitted to me that he drinks every single day, because that doesn't show up in a drug test.  Since I'm not a counselor, I must choose my words very carefully. It was my heart of a "mom" that listened and gave him a little bit of lectures, though.

My heart aches for him. I looked in his eyes and told him that I care about him. He smiled, and said thanks...

The lunch bell rang, so I signed his pass and off he went.

NOTE:  Sadly, in 2011, this student-- who I called "KOP" died in a car accident. He was behind the wheel, and one of his friends who survived has said that they were both using, at the time. May he rest in peace-- a very sad ending to such a young life, at the age of 18.

The youth pastor, at my church, once said that it takes a lot of time investment to get kids to trust you. Once they open up to you, it's a gift.  He is right. KOP opened up to me. I will not betray his confidence. I am not legally obligated to report what he said to me. Besides, his counselor already knows.

What did KOP share with me? I will blog about it, once I digest it. I can't fix this kid. I can't fix my own son.

KOP is just like my son. There is a pain in his soul that he cannot heal.

This is when I am thankful that I love and believe in Jesus Christ, my Savior. Jesus has healed my heart and soul from all the bad things that have happened in my past.  I don't need drugs or alcohol to dull the pain. I have peace in my life. I have forgiven every single person who has betrayed or hurt me. I have made amends with every person I treated wrong-- including my own mother, before she passed away.

I have worked Steps 1-8, with the help of my Higher Power-- my God, Yahweh.

As I write this, I feel hot of tears, that are building up in my eyes, that want to be released-- for my son and for KOP-- and the kids of the parents who have their own blogs, or who read my blog.

Lord, I lift up to you, your child-- KOP.  I pray that he will admit to himself that he is powerless over his addiction. I pray that he will find his Higher, who loves him unconditionally.  I pray that he will surrender to his addiction and that he will admits that he has a drinking problem, and that he wants to be sober. Father, please give me more moments with him, and fill me with the words or actions that will glorify You.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad he opened up to you. I don't know what his situation is but I pray for peace in his life.