Back to work today, and back to reality. By 7:25 upon entering the building, I had already had 4 kids ask to see me, 2 teachers ask me to help with their students and the principal stop me to tell me about a parent she talked to about the DCS referral I’d made a week ago. I pretty much expected this kind of a day after enjoying one week of freedom. Still, it’s rough before 7:30 a.m.! That is the life a School Counselor: expect the unexpected.
My principal just wanted to give me a heads-up about two students feeling pretty upset and betrayed by me according to their mom. Mom had spoken to the principal and my boss said she took it really, really well and says she understands why the report was made. I’d had to make a report to DCS over a week ago and hadn’t seen or spoken to the kids since but I knew DCS had become involved.
As usual, the “anonymous” report is pretty un-anonymous because it’s usually pretty obvious who made the report. So for many reasons, I still and always dread making DCS reports. But, it’s not a choice; it’s the law. It’s always with the child’s best interest at heart (but what elementary child ever sees it that way, understandably).
My principal just wanted to me know and she asked me to take no further measures. Since there was no immediate danger that I knew of, I planned on feeling out how the students felt and if they wanted to meet (which I expected was unlikely based on the conversation with mom).
Normally, I would not directly contact the parent. I thought about it, wrote down the number, and then decided against it not knowing how that would go over. However, I have known these students for several years and I value our relationships and above all, their trust. So, after a couple hours of thought, I did the unexpected and called mom not knowing what her reaction would be towards the person who reported her family to the Department of Children’s Services.
After the friendly, initial small-talk, I just expressed to her my care and concern for her children. I explained what she already knew, that it wasn’t a choice to call DCS. I told her I didn’t think she was a bad mother and that her children love her more than anything in the world. I told her I wasn’t judging.
And, then the even more unexpected thing happened: she thanked me. Yes, she thanked me for calling DCS and told me she saw this as a blessing in disguise. She was surprised that her children knew and were holding in so much stress from home. And, she was disappointed that her children hadn’t talked to her about it, when they had me.
She said it was hard and they cried but there are some changes happening. They spent the entire day together this weekend, and they are talking…really talking and listening.
Life is stressful, and busy, and uncertain. But, I believe that when people are honest, real, and speak from the heart with good intentions, people listen. I believe changes can occur from hurt. And, I believe that being afraid and steering away from the unexpected will not yield change. Taking a risk and being real is what I needed this first day back to work.
No, thank YOU, mom.