There's a second grade girl I met in my office under unfortunate circumstances several weeks ago. She'd been sent to the main office after acting out and said she wasn't feeling well, so I had her lay down on the cot in my office. It was clear she wouldn't be sleeping, so I offerred her a Little Mermaid coloring page and markers. While she colored away, she shared the details of her life: she recently moved in with her aunt because her mom went to jail, but she liked it better at her aunt's house because her aunt doesn't beat her, nor whip her with her belt. She asked me questions about my life: why I don't live with my parents, how I can get to school without anyone driving me, do I go to church. The conversation was heavy and intense, especially with more details about her mom, but the girl kept me captivated for over an hour. How can a girl with one of the prettiest names ever, who thinks hard about things (she was truly blown away by the fact that I live in a town she's not even heard of - why couldn't I walk to school?!), who's got a knack for coloring Ariel, and is thoughtful beyond the majority of her peers (she was very concerned about finishing the picture so I could hang it in my office) have a future that, realistically, is so incredibly bleak? Between the mother's violence and issues, and her peers that mostly appear to be gangsters in training, does this girl even have a chance? For that matter, will any of them turn out okay?
I try to leave those thoughts at school, because if I bring them home, I'll never have the energy to converse with these kids at school. I saw this girl in the hall every once in awhile after our conversation and she always gave me a shy little wave, reminding me of what we shared in my office.
I saw her again today. I walked into the main office and I breezed past her at the "Thinking Desk." I was startled to hear, "Hello, Nurse Erin" and turned to see her giving me that same little wave. I grinned at the recognition and as she continued to stare at me I heard, "I will never forget your name, Erin." She smiled and turned back to her desk, not knowing that she just made me feel that perhaps all has not been for nought.