I have been at my job for a little over a month now. In that time I have been in wrestling matches, been hit, been spit on, had water poured on me, bleach spray sprayed at me, and had hand sanitizer flung at my eyes.
The other day it was supposed to be quiet time, and one person kept being talkative and disruptive. I told him that if he wouldn't be quiet, then I would take everything from his room until bedtime. He hollered back in a snooty tone, "You're so mean, why do you even want to work here?!"
I answered him in his same tone, "For the money!" I of course laughed to let him know I was joking.
I approached him and said, "I am going to be a DHS social worker in two years. I am here for the experience. I am learning from you guys. I am spending the next two years working here, learning how to help you kids, so that when I'm a social worker, I will know better how to train parents, so that other kids like you don't have to end up being sent to a place like this."
His entire mannerism changed in an instant. He replied after a few seconds of silence, "Woah, I've never heard anyone say that before. That's so cool. So I am helping you help other kids?"
I smiled, "Exactly, and that's why I need you to do your best to work with me. Help me help you, instead of always fighting with me. If you could focus on getting better, I can help figure out ways for you to improve. Then you will get to go home, and I will know more how to help other kids get better while never having to leave home."
He answered me, "I like you....I'll do that."
His behavior the past week has been amazing. It turns out all he needed was for someone to say they cared. It was also an eye opener for me. I hadn't really stopped to think about it, until that conversation. I thought the job sounded so cool. An awesome experience is what I kept telling people. But it's so much more than that. It's a life changing experience. I am learning what school could never teach me, how to heal hurt.
Every kid helped today, is a lesson for how to help another kid tomorrow. Helping abused kids is no longer a dream of mine, it's a reality.