Here she is. One of my middle school students opens the door to my office and sees I've been waiting for her. Her eyes immediately light up upon seeing a familiar face. "Mrs. Allison!" she squeals. (My students are always suprised seeing me at the middle and high school because they tend to think I only work with elementary.) I smile back at her and then stop. She looks so different. The few short months from fifth grade to sixth grade have stole that little girl look. Her hair looks thin and she has bags under her eyes. "How are you?" I ask. She looks at the floor now and shrugs. "Do you like being at the middle school?"
"No." she replies.
"Why?" I ask.
"I'm scared. No one's my friend and the kids are all bigger."
"How was your summer?" I ask as I try for a happier topic.
"My dad went to jail. I might be moving."
Here I am, my third year as a speech therapist just beginning, and some things still get to me. I thought perhaps time would lesson the shock-no hurt, but it seems as though more time spent with these kids makes me feel it even deeper. The neglect, the bullying, the abuse. I know them now. I know their strengths, I know their weaknesses. I've known this middle student I see for language and pragmatics for over 2 years now. I know her home life is non-existent. She wants so badly to make friends but lacks the social skills to do so. Kids are mean. And most of her teachers become frustrated with her abilties a few weeks into the school year.
I want so badly to "fix" all of their problems. Sadly, I realize this job I love contains more things I can't control than things I can....
I turn back to her.
"Well, I'm working on my schedule. I should see you for speech in a few weeks."
Before she turns away, I see her eyes light up and she smiles. "Can't wait." I hear her say.
I can't control everything in my student's lives, but the small percentage I can, I'll make count.