I sometimes volunteer at my kids' school, helping out with various things...sometimes I help monitor, or tutor at lunchtime, the kids who are ineligible and have to work during the lunch hour to improve their grades.
Lisa was on the basketball team. That's how I recognized her in the room. She had attitude and didn't take kindly to my checking on her work. She got a little mouthy with Mr. Johnson and had to leave the room. I saw her in the hallway later, as I was leaving and asked her if she played basketball...she flashed with recognition and said, "You're Daphne's dad right?"...then she loosened up. (I have no name at this school, just Daphne's dad...feel free to use it) I asked her why she hadn't been at practice and she shrugged.
Fast forward to last week. I'm in the office waiting for my boy on an orthodontist day. Lisa is in the office. I sit next to her. After a few minutes, she asks about the basketball team. Then she volunteers that she's failing all of her classes. Not wanting to rush her, I let the conversation mature with long silences... We talked a bit about whether she wanted to fail, and what might help her set some goals and motivation...and I simply reinforced that her performance was for herself, and to protect her own identify and self-image...(she admitted to me, without prompting that she's simply not trying).
As I met with Mrs. Williams, one of the school counselors, I mentioned my interaction. She was baffled, Lisa was an excellent student in 6th grade and last year struggled and this year practically quit. She indicated she was having a difficult time at home, and was in counseling but was struggling with the counseling as it seemed unhelpful. I got the indication that Lisa was pretty bankrupt for a 12 year old...it is hard to deal with things of that nature, we all know that from experience, and then having Depression myself...I know that it is a matter of time before you wake up without enough energy to fight, and start the process of giving in.
I saw Lisa a couple of times over the last week or so, and simply reminded her that she was a smart and powerful young woman, and she just needed to remind herself of that.
I saw her this week, after school...she tugged on my shirt as I walked past to get my attention..."Hey, I retook my math test and got a 97%!" with a big smile.
A high five and a wink with "I told you that you were smart and powerful, isn't that fun!"...she smiled and said "yeah".
We are difference makers. Every day, every interaction...that's why I'm happy to be on a PTO team with like-minded and purposeful people. I'm thankful for being on a team that gives me a platform to be who I am, with others doing the same.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Wonderful Kwanza...and all that.