Friday, January 9, 2015

His Safe Place

I went to pick up our students from school to walk them to Harbor House on Monday, the first day after Christmas break.  When the bell rang, "Jose" ran away from his classroom and straight at me.  "I missed you so much!!!" He shouted this and ran to me with his arms open wide, hugging me as hard as he could.

Jose is six years old and has a beautiful, kind, loving heart.  He also has a pretty hard life in a lot of ways.  His mom has four children: Jose, his 7-year old sister, his 11-year old brother, and his 14-year old sister.  Their mother, Val, suffers from chronic illness and is a single mother.  She works as a security guard, outside, in the cold and on her feet.  She is understandably exhausted.  The 14-year old picks up a lot of the parenting responsibilities, which is hard for everyone involved.

Jose had a very challenging year last year, both in class and with us.  We had to have him take breaks from our after-school program a few times because he ran into the street and behaved in other ways that were very unsafe.  Every time he came back, he would apologize profusely and be very remorseful, and then do the exact same thing.  His teacher was extremely frustrated with him and told me about it in detail every time I met with her.

This year, Jose is calming down soon and definitely trying as hard as he can.  He still has some issues, and we worked with the wonderful counselor at his school to give him services when he told me that sometimes he wants to be friends with someone but his brain tells him to bite them instead. . The counselor is, fortunately, a huge fan of Jose and loves working with him.  If you've ever wondered if approval makes a difference for a child, I told him yesterday that i had talked to his counselor and the counselor said, "He's such a nice boy."  Jose beamed like it was Christmas.

I am very optimistic about Jose's future, partly because he has so many people on his side, and partly because we are starting interventions so early.  Don't get me wrong, it is hard to be him.  And I think it's very hard to be his mother much of the time.  But she texted me last night and said, "Thank God for ppl like you and all hh staff with not only professionalism but passion and knowledge of understanding human nature and children's view."  She knows we will support her, we will love, support, correct, and praise her child, and that we are available to help find additional resources like counseling.  Jose doesn't sleep well or enough hours and often goes to the couch outside the offices at Harbor House to take a nap.  He literally eats, sleeps, plays, learns, and works at Harbor House, and that makes it very much of a home for him.

Like anyone else, I was a little reluctant to come back to work after Christmas vacation, but when I saw Jose's face light up and saw him run to me with his outstretched arms, I was reminded of how safe he feels with us and how long vacation must have felt for him without his safe place.  He's so happy to be back and we're so glad to have him.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.