Wow... seems like almost a week since I last wrote anything. It doesn't take much to trip me up. Looking back at this last week I play detective... It was a go back to work after two weeks of Christmas vacation. I look back further... I had felt the itch to write about a week after the first day of that vacation. Is it work?
Work... oh my god work. How do I describe work. I work at a public school specializing in a very specific population... those children who's particular set of behaviors are too violent to be managed in any other school setting. Only those students.
I carry a radio. When there is a crisis... and there is always three, four or five crises going on at any single moment I get that call.... "Come help." And it is my job to go... and try my best to help.
So every single young person I work with has the potential to attack... Each and every child is a unique puzzle. How did they get here? What are their triggers? What interventions help keep them calm? What interventions can calm them down?
Each of them comes to us with a laundry list of traumas. Biological damages... ADHD, depression or some other more obscure form of mental illness, exposure to drugs before they are born... or after they are born... autism in all its myriad forms. Social damage... broken chaotic families, poverty... homelessness... abuse... foster care. It goes on and on. It breaks my heart every day.
When they rage on me, I cannot really even blame them. They have so much to be angry about. And I am a very safe target. I can absorb it and, gently, carefully keep them safe until they are back in some kind of control. I will not get angry back. I will wrap them up in my arms and hold them until they can breathe again, think again. I strive to reflect back how much I care about them. And it breaks my heart every day.
But if you could be a fly on the wall... and outsider without understanding what you would see would be a kid... sometimes small, a tiny five year old; sometimes big, a sixth grader who could have been on the football team if he hadn't somehow ended up so angry... An angry out of control young human being, doing his or her damnedest to hurt me and everyone around them, physically or emotionally. Rage filled angry words thrown along with punches, kicks, bites, spits. Tears, sobbing, screaming... You would see me grabbing, wrapping my arms around this bundle of rage, holding on tight as they scream and fight to escape. You would see me calm, controlled and if you did not know... did not realize they brought the rage into the room with them... hurting them. They scream that I am hurting them. And they are in pain. If you use every ounce of your strength against an implacable, unmovable object your muscles will protest and ache and burn and eventually scream with agony. So in a way I am hurting them. I don't like it. It hurts me too. I want nothing more than to let them go.
It is a balancing act... how many times to I let them hit me, kick me? Will they stop or do I need to restrain them? Why are they so angry right now? Could we have done something different to have prevented this particular crisis? Could anyone have prevented this? (God, teachers hate it when I suggest that somehow we could have prevented it... that they could have done something different. Teachers mandated to repeatedly try to jam those little square pegs into round holes.)
And I wonder... could this have something do do with that itch to write.