One of the most difficult parts of teaching is that we are unable to take direct action in certain circumstances. We can be an ear, a shoulder. We can suggest other people with whom to speak. We can direct administration or counselors to help the students, the parents, etc. But legally speaking, there is little we can directly do without risking getting sued for influencing a minor, or worse.
I understand, completely, the reasoning behind that. Our world is no longer a place where you trust until proven wrong. We must now, for our own safety and the safety of loved ones, unfortunately, mis-trust until proven otherwise. It's sad. And perhaps, this thought process shows that I am a rather jaded person.
When I am able to help a child (and it is difficult saying that due to the age at which I am most in contact with my students - they tend to be 16-18, and behave in very adult-like ways most of the time - acceptable or not), it is exceedingly rewarding. Regardless of the aid given - tutoring someone in English, helping a young lady with boy troubles, giving a hug when a pet dies - whatever the reason is, it is wonderful to know that I made an impact on that particular life in that particular moment. And I want them all to know I do it out of love.
But on the other hand...
A student came to me several weeks ago with a quandary. I was meant to merely be an ear. I happily loaned said student my ears and my shoulder.
Today, I returned to my room after a class held in a different wing to see Student waiting outside my room. Student needed ears again.
Original conundrum has grown. Exponentially.
Details do not matter at the moment. What matters is that I really want to directly do something to help this wonderful child. Student is one of the more mature high schoolers I've had the pleasure of working with - thoughtful, funny, smart, logical - future plans in place - genuinely a student from whom I would want updates and visits over the years.
It pains me greatly to see Student in this particular sticky spot. There is nothing I can do. Not without running the risk of losing my job. I shared the situation with Steve when I got home, and while he sympathized with Student and me, he was more concerned my heart would take over and I would do something foolish. I will not do something foolish. But I can't help but think that I was meant to be in Student's life for more than just ears. More than mere hugs. My heart is breaking at this situation.
If my heart is breaking, I cannot possibly fathom what Student is thinking and feeling.
There is no hint of light - no trace of hope. The proverbial rock and hard place are set to squeeze Student. I can only let Student know my ears and shoulders are here. I just wish I could bear some of the brunt of the load Student is now carrying.