Thursday, September 27, 2012

The School Counselor's Corner

As a school counselor, I dispense oodles of advice. The population I work with is 7-9th grade students and our career technical group. I love em. Lots. They keep me up to my elbows in drama, fresh from the trenches of junior high and early high school. I'm talking good stuff here. The old fashioned "she said he said she said and then they all said" kind of stuff.

I know. You're jealous. It's okay. Not everyone is cut out for my line of work.

Of all the sessions I have with students, all the crises I've navigated students through, all the applications for career center programs and summer camps I have completed, all the academic advisement I have dealt there is one thing, one singular piece of advice I seem to dispense on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.

Kill em with kindness. You know, take the moral high ground.

It seems simple in theory. But in practice, hoooo boy! Not so simple. I have students who never seem to master the concept that we are all human beings, inhabiting the same planet. And as such, if you treat every person with kindness, people will see you are good and treat you well in return.

Notice I did not say be everyone's friend. I never recommend that. But that does not stop you from treating your enemy with some modicum of decency. This gives you the moral high ground. The ability to look yourself in the mirror and know you did your best-no matter what.

Oddly enough, boys seem to grasp this concept better than their female counterparts. I have had several female students in my office of late. The drama usually goes something like this:

"She is so mean to me! I haven't done anything to her!"

"Why don't you give me some background? Tell me about your history with this girl..."

"Well we used to be friends. Then I got my boyfriend and she just got, like, um, all weird. Then he asked her to the dance! But she didn't tell me! (insert throat noise only teen girls can make) So I wouldn't let him dance with her. Then she tried to jump me at the bus stop. Whatever. Who needs her? I have better friends. But she keeps looking at me in the hallway. I want her to leave me alone. Ugh."

"So let me get this straight. You had/have this boyfriend who went behind your back and asked another girl to the dance and you hate her for it and not him?"

Long pause. Silence.

"Yep. That's about right."

Right around that point I want to smack my forehead. Girls and ladies-why don't we punish the skunks who do these things instead of each other?

Back to my students. I tell these girls to treat the girl who is looking at her with kindness no matter what. This way she stays out of trouble and her other friends will follow her lead. Rarely do my young grasshoppers take my advice, but I keep giving it. Someday, in a perfect society, girls won't gang up on each other over boys who play them against each other. And they will be nice to each other. Until then I will find a place to smack my forehead into. And possibly make a T-shirt with my advice on it to wear every day.

It will save me much in the way of time.