I was going to write something here about the middle school I'm at this year, how overcrowded it is, and how sad it is that students from my former middle school now have to travel through some major intersections (many of them on foot) to get to their new school. I was distracted by my thoughts toward the end of the day, exhausted by the drama and issues that 6th-8th graders face in the community, when someone came bursting into my office and gave me one giant bear hug before I was able to really recognize her: Shoe Girl. (If you're new here, you'll have to read about Shoe Girl for some background on her. Suffice to say, she's important to me.)
I first dealt with her when I started this job over two years ago, when she was a tiny little 6th grader. She's in 8th grade now, and at the risk of sounding like a parent, she has grown up so much...She's a young lady now! When she finally let me out of the hug, she started talking quickly, "I'm so glad you're the nurse here, I've been looking for you but I keep coming on Thursdays and you're never here." She told me how things are going at home (pretty good), and at school (kind of okay, except for the kids picking on her because of her shoes). She invited me to hang out at her house after school one day, or maybe the park, and suggested that when she's done being an 8th grader, I could be her nurse at the high school, too. She told me how glad she was when I stopped by to see her last year, but how much more glad she was that I'm there every week now. With the interpersonal conflict that's been clouding my work lately, Shoe Girl was a breath of fresh air*. Thank goodness, my job has a purpose for at least one kid. As I walked her out, I reminded her I'm there on Wednesdays, and I have a feeling I will be seeing plenty of her this year.
*Not really. She still smells like stale cigarettes and unwashed clothes and hair.