what we’re up against

i love stories, storytellers and storytelling

it’s no surprise then, that this blog came about…eventually…it was created, after all, to share stories…with my children, family, friends and the world at large…

the stories recounted here are about the up’s and downs of working with kids…what i refer to as herding cats

and often times, the stories i share deal with the challenges of this kind of work…

in reading these (non-fiction) tales, you can begin to understand this kind of work from the perspective of someone who has done it for nearly 20 years…from someone who still enjoys it, despite the demands inherent in the job…

but, reading about these challenges is quite different from…seeing them, experiencing them, or navigating them–in the moment…for yourself…like a youth worker, teacher, counselor, or parent has to do every day…

in truth, the best thing for a person to do if they really wanted to see what we do–in real life–would be to follow us around for a while…shadow us in our work, if you will–however, that’s not always an option, that’s not always possible…

so, to help in the understanding…i would like to share a movie clip with you…from one of my all-time favorite flicks…good will hunting

[the entire film is ‘quality’ and still holds up to this day–check it out]

and despite the fact that the movie itself is fictional, matt damon’s ‘troubled young man’ is the absolute closest portrayal, the most accurate rendering of what we’re up against…when we encounter a young person who has come up through some hard knocks in life–a young person who wants to challenge us, be defiant, put up a fight, push our buttons, test us, or make mischief…just because they can…

take a look at this scene where will meets his counselor (played by robin williams) for the first time…

q: is this scene a bit dramatic?!

a: sure

q: i mean, can we strangle or ‘choke out’ the kids in our charge…who push our buttons?!

a: no–well, maybe at some of the schools in ‘the south’ šŸ™‚

q: haveĀ there been times when we-professionals-have imagined strangling someone–in those moments when we’re pushed to the edge?!

a: absolutely! (if you’ve been a loyal reader/follower of the blog…then, you already know the answer, my friends!)

in my experience (especially, from what i’ve seen in schools and juvenile prisons)…this is exactly the type of behavior and attitude you can expect to be up against…with a difficult young person…it is very true to life…

so much so, that what you didn’t see…in the next scene (and i’m really glad they included it, because it also rings true)…was will’s counselor…who, while he was at home (with a stiff drink in hand), stayed up until all hours of the night…thinking about will…because of what went down in those few moments in his office…

and that’s a really important thing to realize–the stuff you see, the stuff you have to deal with, the stuff that’s said to you…can be some of the most brutal stuff you’ll ever encounter in your life…it sticks with you…it sticks to you…it’s not something you justĀ shake off or leave at the office…not at all…

not only that, but the whole idea (that’s casually passed around) of having thick skin…and ‘how you’ve got to have thick skin’ in this line of work–that’s bullshit, people (as my friend, kip, would say)…it’s a lie people tell themselves…and that’s not to say that youth workers, counselors, teachers, coaches, paras, and parents aren’t tough…they are…the good ones, the ones who stay in the fight–the ones who still work, strive, hope, pray and care for their kids…day in and day out…have some serious stones

but, make no mistake…we also take with us…the scars from the battles we’ve won and (most often) lost…

from what we’ve been up against

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