They thought it was the greatest thing, and joked about how hard it must be to keep up with 350 + kids. “My mom can barely keep up with three!” was a common line thrown around. It sounds silly, but the camaraderie that it built really helped me develop relationships with each of my students.
Sometimes, I think my kids hate my affectionate nickname for them, because they know that I’m that much harder on them. I make sure they get to class on time. I give them lectures about behavior. Some of my female students ask for dating advice, and trust me, they aren’t always happy with what I tell them!
(By the way, my overused phrase for this week is, “If he doesn’t treat you respectfully, he’s not the boy for you.” I think I’ve told this to at least twelve girls.)
I push some of the students who don’t want to work, and do my best to help motivate those who think that school is useless. In short, I expect A LOT. I really do think I sometimes act like a parent!
Which brings up a whole new topic: a lot of my students have been asking me if I’m that hard on my own kids. I usually laugh and tell them no, because I don’t have any children at the moment. It’s just not the right time. But being a counselor has really made me think about my becoming a parent one day. I see a lot of parents who do great things: they attend planning conferences, sit in on phone conferences, and overall shower their kids in love and affection. And then I have the parents who maybe aren’t doing the best things, kids who have parents who don’t care to bring them to school or don’t show up for meetings. The hardest thing is when the students seem to know that their parents don’t want to come in; I remember one student telling me, “Don’t bother calling my dad; it’s not like he cares about what I’m doing.” Comments like that hurt me, as a counselor, so I can only imagine how the students feel.
There are days when I get home from work, call my fiancé, and start our conversation by saying, “When we have kids, we are never doing …” I have heard so many instances where kids are mistreated, whether that’s verbally, physically, or emotionally. There are so many students I wish I could take home and spoil with attention. I know that’s impractical, but it’s something I often wish I could do, only because I could ensure that they are safe and protected and loved.
In my short time here at the middle school, I have met so many resilient students, students who are called to be adults way too early and yet, they somehow step into that role as naturally and easily as if they can almost foresee what will happen. I can only hope and pray that when I do have children, that they will never have to experience some of the horrific things that my students have. But at the same time, I hope my children are blessed with the same amount of resiliency and strength when they encounter obstacles.
So, for all of you who are parents, go home, hug your kids, and know that you are blessed to have each other!