When I worked at RDCC I was assigned a fabulous primary. A fun, smart girl, with a wicked sense of style and humor. I definently felt like the I won the primary lottery. We worked together for about 8 months. She was patient with me while I tried to find my footing as a counselor and role model. As a young, eager, and inexperienced social worker I often found myself in over my head. Inspite of my inexperience and the numerous adults who had failed her in life, she showed true resiliance. She excelled in school and participated in extra curricular art activities. She was a hardworker who did more chores than any other kid -way more than I ever did as a teenager! Despite her small stature she could hold her own. Unlike me, she was brave. She faced problems head on and stood up for herself. She had a pension for drama, art, and design. Her art was edgy, innovative, and ahead of trends. I pictured her growing up and freelancing for Vogue as a photographer. I could see her being the creative director for edgy high fashion shoots.
My little primary and I met up for dinner last night. She's 16 now... so I guess she's not too little anymore. It had been about 18 months since I last saw her. I had heard she had experienced some tough times and I wanted to keep in touch and help where I could. I wasn't sure what that help would look like or what exactly it meant. I just knew I didn't want to be another adult in her life who told her they cared yet walked away.
We had a great dinner and I was relieved to see the same fun, smart girl with a wicked sense of style and humor was there. She's packed a lot of living in her 16 years and my heart broke with some of the stories she told me. My instincs (and subsequent failure as a social worker) are to fix all her problems for her. I want her to have the oppurtunity to experience happy and carefree teenage years. I want her to worry about zits and clothing labels not food and shelter. I want her to explore her artistic talents and develope a sense of confidence built through accomplishments.
I want to give her my childhood. I want to replace her panic attacks with Friday Night Nacho Nights. I want to swap her memories of endless bus rides to temporary dismal housing with flights that land in tropical destinations. I want to shift her point of refrence away from icky predatory men to caring, patient, and dorky coaches.
I so often took for granted the gifts my parents gave me. My childhood is full of fabulous memories, my mom selflessly and eagerly signed me up for any and all activities. She sacrificed so I never went without. I played on the best teams, was given a nice car, and had someone who was present daily and wanted to attend my games and support me. My taught me to laugh at myself and not take things too seriously. I have a dad who taught me to be fearless and practical. He listened and encouraged me.He walked me through problems and taught me the value of a strong work ethic. They saw the best version of myself and always encouraged me to keep striving to achieve that. All children you should be so lucky to experience that. I so badly want to give that to my little primary. I want to right all the wrongs she's been dealt and support her so she's able to reach the best version of herself.
Healthy boundaries and rational thinking bring me back to reality. I can't care for a teenager. The question that is left lingering is what will happen to my little primary?