This I Believe

Jessica - Coudersport, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: children
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Children are incredibly resilient.

I have worked as a school social worker for two years in rural high schools. Many of the problems I see every day are the “typical teenage angst”. They are stressed about school, annoyed with their parents, in love with their significant other, and intrigued with the teenage drama of it all. It never matters how insignificant it seems to us, who trudge through adult land, to them this is it. This is BIG. This is life altering. They cry, they rage, they speak softly, they laugh and when the bell rings they go to class.

I have also worked with those teenagers who have lost a mother, brother, grandfather, and sister. I have seen teenagers who are seriously depressed because of a traumatic experience. The teenagers who are worried because their mother is drinking again or their parents are in the middle of a divorce and forcing them to choose sides. I have watched as a teenager struggles with thoughts of suicide. The ones that break my heart the most are those that take the adult responsibilities on their small young shoulders and feel that there is no other option. Sometimes there is not any. And when the bell rings they traipse off to class.

Because to them the bell signals the end of a session, the end of the support they receive weekly for forty-five minutes, the time to return to the real world. It is amazing to watch them transform themselves back into the carefree child that everyone expects them to be. And they go to class because that is their job and what is expected of them. We as adults do not want to hear the excuses for them not doing well in school, acting out behaviorally, and being unable to concentrate. It does not matter what is going on at home or within their social networks. We expect them to succeed because well that’s their job.

And they do. The majority of them do not commit suicide. They go on to become productive members of society. They go to college, have careers, get married and start families. Because children are resilient. They will take on the worst of what the world has to offer. The stuff adults can choose to walk away from. And they make it.

I talked to a student one day who came into my office upset because her parents had separated again. She was mad because she knew that through all this upheaval, the moving to a different home, the fighting over when she can see what parent, the stress that they had no money, in a month her parents would reunite. I asked her how she handled this grown up situation with such poise and dignity. She said, “Because I have to. What choice do I have?” And the bell rang and she went to class.

My, how amazing our children are.