Parents

Parents are designed to support and guide

To love and protect, care and provide

Their journeys begin in hospitals and crib-sides

First steps, giggles, chubby legs and a first bike ride

Their children’s accomplishments fill them with pride

They love and they give and, eventually, they die.

Being in parent’s arms should make one feel fortified.

Yet sometimes horror and misfortune collide.

Some parents make children feel petrified

Does a parent’s childhood ridden with abuse make that justified?

There is no test that makes you certified,

So maybe we can just call it misguided?

The stories I have heard would make anyone mortified

I wish there was a way to purify

Make right, reverse, remove pain, and provide

A reason for hope, to fight, and to change tides

So I will pray and petition, press in, and open wide

My heart and ears and fiercely stand by the side

Of each child I meet regardless of social divides

And let them know it’s okay to cry.

 

 

 

 

We’re Dying Anyways

“Get ready, this girl will talk your ear off” said my co-worker sarcastically as he introduced me to a new kid I was getting on my caseload. My co-worked had assumed that this girl was low-risk and shy after working with her for a few months. Sheila (name changed for obvious reasons) went unnoticed and brushed off as an easy kid on the caseload.

Multiple weeks later, and I have discovered that Sheila is neither shy nor low-risk. Testing positive for marijuana, sneaking out in the middle of the night to be with her drug-addicted boyfriend, ditching school, and dressing provocatively; Sheila actually told me “I’ve gotten away with so much while on probation” when I questioned how long she has been maintaining this behavior. And she decided to trust me.

I was driving Sheila home about one month into being her Probation Officer. As we walked to the car, I noticed she looked quite sad. After some digging, she tearfully revealed disappointment in herself, and the burden of “measuring up” that her mother makes her feel she must do. “I am just a mess-up” she said, as she wiped tears off her face. Pressing in, I discovered that Sheila lives her life under constant comparison to others while in her home, fear of being alone, and a proclivity to self-destruction.

Asking why Sheila continues to turn to drugs, she said “I like drugs. They make me be able to not think for awhile.” Insightful, Sheila identified that she is with her boyfriend because she is not certain who is was by herself. “He’s just like a drug- he makes me stop feeling and I use him to self-destruct.” When questioned about her future, she replied, “I don’t really care honestly, we are all going to die anyways so we might as well just chill.”

Sheila loves to rap. She loves animals. She’s good at science. Sometimes she writes poetry and lyrics. She plays Fortnite. She’s great at cooking. She loves her siblings. There’s a lot of work to go with this girl, and I cannot wait to continue to peel back the layers of her thoughts with her as she allows me to ask serious questions, lets me praise and encourage her, and listens when I push her to think differently and more critically than she allows herself to think.

Here’s to conversations that push one another to not just accept the status quo for ourselves, and to being willing to get a little uncomfortable for the sake of another.

The Purpose of These Ponderings

Last week a kid glued his mother’s refrigerator closed because he was mad at her.

I love teenagers.

I love my job.

I am a brand-spanking-new juvenile probation officer, which means you will likely never hear about intimate details of my life to protect my anonymity and the anonymity of the teenagers that I work with. You will also walk through my first failures and my first successes in my career. Most importantly, you will hear about the ridiculous stories that I encounter on a daily basis.

To clarify, my job is not about punishment. Juvenile Probation, by statute, is rehabilitation first and then further legal action, if necessary. I get this insanely cool opportunity to be an advocate for kids every day of my life, and I get to have the Superior Court’s back while I do this to the best of my ability. I have powerful tools: resources, behavioral health community partners, attorneys, judges, parents/guardians, teachers, principals, counselors, intensive outpatient treatment, a detention center, and so many more. There are failure stories, there are apathetic/tired/confused/hopeless/limited parents, and there is an abundance of pain. Yet there is hope, resilience that surpasses comprehension, parents and guardians that are still fighting, second chances, and successes.

This job can be isolating at times.┬áIt makes some people uncomfortable that I would be doing this as female, particularly my family members and some friends. Additionally, Not many people are interested in hearing the going-ons of “criminals”. Sometimes people assume that probation just involves catching kids when they break the law, instead of a job where I walk alongside kids for years as they fight for their futures. They did the crime so should serve the time, right?

This blog is for me to have a space to word-vomit, mourn, celebrate, and laugh at the unpredictable, stimulating, and perplexing situations of my daily work grind. Thanks for reading, or thanks for not.