Just a little reminder this week at work: never assume anything. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve been playing my A-game the past month back at work. Like all teachers and counselors, we are TIRED! I do want to give it my all but I’m just doing my best, and that’s not the same. So this week as I went to check in on a little girl about Brody’s age, we chatted about what’s been going on as we walked down the hall. She always needs to see me, and it’s always urgent (and my School Counselor friends out there know this kind of kid!).
She is being raised by biological grandmother. Mom is pregnant with her 8th child, the girl tells me. And, dad is in and out of jail. He visits but recently got in a fight at their new apartment with the neighbors. Needless to say, she doesn’t have the best parents.
So, we are walking and talking about what’s been going on. Mother’s day had just passed and she eagerly shared that mama spent 2 nights in jail on Mother’s day weekend. For what, one may be wondering? Not paying child support: surprise, surprise! Here’s where I make the tired, cardinal sin of counseling: I assume how she feels and say, ” how sad”, insinuating how sad my little friend must feel. Luckily, we are so close that she quickly corrected me. No, she wasn’t sad at all about it. She thinks she should have stayed longer! (This little girl is mamaw’s biggest fan and I do understand why…she even talks like a sassy, old mamaw when she tells me her crazy family stories!).
ASSUME: to make an ASS out of U and ME! Never, ever assume. Our own personal experience is never the same as the next. It can cause so much upset, confusion, misunderstanding, and disappointment by assuming what another person thinks or feels. I know this as a counselor but forget sometimes as a human ( and a human who’s been through the ringer, at that!).
So, what can we do instead?
- We ask.
- We approach when we think things aren’t right.
- We question things we don’t understand.
- We apologize when we do assume.
- We learn from mistakes.
- And, we form close relationships out of genuine kindness that allows others to feel safe enough to correct us. (And, I’m glad she did!)
No, she was not and is not sad that mom spent a couple nights in jail. She needs more than that to get her life in order! This girl, while 8, is sadly aware of the harsh realities of life. But, this also serves her well in that she’s able to assert herself. So from every disappointment, there’s also an opportunity for growth. As her counselor, I will continue to grow and sift through harsh realities, while reminding myself to not assume anything and always remain open to understanding and growth. Let’s teach our own children that too. Not only will it save me extra counseling visits, but it also serves us well in life and as adults!