Thursday, October 30, 2008

Doesn't that scare you?

Whenever I meet someone for the first time the typical "introduction" conversation inevitably ensues. You know EXACTLY the conversation I'm referring to. " are you..where are you from...what's your major...when did you many people in your family..." and it's at approximately this point (give or take a mundane inquiry or two) that you realize you can barely hear the voice of your fellow conversant because the screaming inside your head has reached an unheard of decibel and is distracting you by shouting "SWEET MERCY!! If I have to have this SAME conversation with one more person I'm going to be forced to do something drastic!!!". We all know that this introduction is completely necessary and yet, it is so incredibly painful...particularly in the world of young, single people....
But I digress. (gee what a shock) Lame introduction conversations and how much I despise them is not what I came to write about. Invariably this conversation ends up leading to what a person is doing with their life- school, career, etc. At this point take a deep breath, prepare myself, and I explain that I graduated from BYU in History and Secondary Education, specialized in teaching high risk students, taught at an alternative high school and treatment center for my internship, worked as a staff at that treatment center, and now work as a staff and teach for the Journey- a treatment program that deals with juveniles in state custody and specifically work with their all boys long term rehab program. At this point I usually get a "look"- A look that communicates something to the effect of..."so you work with criminals? you work with bad kids?" In fear of offending me or sounding rude what generally comes out of people's mouths is a more tempered version of that idea- something to the effect of, " So do they have records? Have they been in jail?" The answer to that? Yes. These kids have been in and out of DT ( what you and I referred to as "juvy") for years by the time they reach a long term rehab program. They all have records, and their charges vary but are primarily related to drugs. Almost all of them have relatively violent histories, most of them haven't been going to school consistently for years, and not a single one of them wants to be here. To these responses I ALWAYS...100% of the time...Invariably...get some variation of the exact same question:
I should add that accompanied by this invariable question there is almost always another "look". But this look is different than the first. It is a head-to-toe summing up of my massive 5'2" frame with an expression of utter disbelief.
I would like to address this question now: Does my chosen career scare me?
The simple answer? No. Absolutely not.
The longer answer: No. Not at all and I'll tell you why:
First of all when you read through the files or hear the stories of these kids' lives there is one thing that becomes very clear: Most of them never had a fair shot. Truly and honestly, if my parents had given me weed from the time I was three years old ( literally) I'd be a drug addict, too. If my father had started sexually prostituting me on the internet at the age of 5, if my mother had dropped me on door steps to abusive relatives because she was too addicted to cocaine to take care of me, if I'd been beaten within an inch of my life by my drug addicted and alcoholic father on daily basis, if I'd been taught that drugs were the answer to all my problems my entire life...I'd be in rehab, too. They're just people. Just kids. They have the same desires, impulses, wants/needs, spirits, etc as everyone else I know. They just have a different history
Second of all: Yes, some of them are violent and yes sometimes they get very angry, and yes I'm about a third of the size of some of them. But you have to understand something: They are angry. They do not enjoy inflicting pain. They're not murderers. They simply lash out at times. There are generally two reasons why a teenage boy would attack another person in the situation they're in. 1. they're feeling incredibly threatened; usually physically; and their fight or flight adrenaline kicks in. No teenage boys feels physically threatened by me. And so actually my size is to my advantage. 2. They want bragging rights. They want to war-story, glorify, use it as an example of how they're tough and nobody should mess with them. Once again, my size here: completely to my advantage. No one is going to want to brag about beating up a little girl. Yes there have been times when I've been around and had to assist or do a physical restraint of a kid. But it's truly rare.
Thirdly, this is a time in my life when I can be completely dedicated to my job. I'm not married, I don't have any kids, and so all my energy can go into them. When I have my own children it wouldn't be a good idea to be around "dangerous" people, or to have my patience being constantly tried by them and have none left for my own kids. But for right now, they can be my life. And as I like doing it, I feel I have a responsibility to do so until my priorities need to be elsewhere
Fourth. I'm stupid and think I'm Supergirl and that nothing will ever happen to me. I hope I'm right. (c:
So no. It doesn't scare me. Let's talk about about how many kids are in my family now. (c:


  1. What a good post. You are articulate and your points are really good. I hadn't really thought of your size being to an advantage ;)

    You are also very good at turning your sadness for these kids into a positive ability to work with these kids. There are so few people that can do that.

  2.'re awesome! I don't know if I could do that!

    I can somehow definitely see you intimidating all those students who are 3 times bigger that you though :)

  3. oh and the above post is from Meghan.

  4. i think you're really cool. ( in case you didn't know ) sometimes i go around thinking that i know you're really cool and i tell everyone how really cool you are and then something reminds me that you you're even more really cool than i remembered. (c; i think its impressive that you can keep astounding me with your coolness over and over again without fail.