I had to call a parent this afternoon. I busted a one of my kids for vandalizing a picture in the Assistant Principal's office while we were taking the state math test. (I test in her office b/c of a space shortage come test time). I don't really like calling parents. I think the thing is that I wish I called home more often with good news so that I wasn't only calling with the bad. Regardless, mom had to know.
When I called, mom said that she was actually having a pretty tough time with her kid. He isn't a jerk, but he is 11 and is starting to push the limits. (The jerks start doing that around age 7) She told me he has been lying and she caught him steeling and she doesn't know what to do with him. Once she started talking, it all came tumbling out. Her mom is terminally ill, she doesn't know how to tell the kids, they're acting out at home. She is crying on the phone. I'm just listening. She said she was thinking about calling me, but hadn't gotten to it.
Mom had a total breakdown. She had been carrying all of this heavy mental shit around, coping, trying to make things work and they just weren't working. Shit, we've all been there before. I have no idea about losing a parent or raising an adolescent kid, but I know the feeling of Ugh why isn't this working? which is what I had to identify with in our conversation. I reassured her that she is doing a good job with her kid (she really is) and offered to put her in touch with some counseling agencies, which she appreciated.
When I got off the phone, I was reeling with how much this woman opened up to me. My initial thoughts were you know I'm half your age, don't have kids, and have never dealt with any of the stuff you are dealing with, right? But none of that mattered. She needed someone to listen, needed reassurance and a little bit of help and I could provide that. Our conversation ended up being so much more than about the incident earlier that day. I'm really glad I called.