-you spend most of the day hearing teenage girls talk about boys, their hair, or what they're going to wear tomorrow to school
-a fight for who uses the phone is a nightly occurrence
-a lucky day rolls around where you get paid to actually take girls to the beach, the mall, or on a hike.
-you know every single pop and r&b song word for word
-you have become strangely good at "Just Dance"
-it's normal to not get one "thank you" after you spend 13 hours trying to meet the needs and desires of 6 young girls
-you have to take a deep breath every 15 minutes just to keep yourself from breaking down
-you're on a first name basis with the local cops
-you go home and all you can think of "did i consequence her right?" and "is she gonna hate me tomorrow?"
i am a residential counselor at a girls group home. i have been doing it for about 5 months now. i've had some challenging work experiences in my day, but this one takes the cake.
it's a 24/7 facility which means we have 24 hour awake care. which means that sometimes my job is to stay up all night and check on the girls every 30 minutes. we do that to make sure they haven't run away. or that they haven't tried to hurt themselves at some point in the night. sad, but reality. it's a level 12 group home. the highest level of care in santa cruz county. the highest is level 14, which essentially is institutional lock down. there are two homes within the organization Haven of Hope. i work mainly at the house for younger girls, 12-15. there are 6 of them. they can be terrors. and they can be gems. one of the toughest parts of the job is adjusting to their constant shifts in mood. they can literally be yelling and swearing at me one second and laughing hysterically and hugging me the next. it's a lot to roll with.
i find that when people close to me ask me about my job, i tend to complain about it a lot. i think sometimes i get consumed with the negativity that surrounds me when im working. and sometimes i don't feel like these girls get to see me for who i really am. because when i'm working i'm in "mom" mode. making sure they do their homework, get their laundry done, clean their rooms, be nice to one another, dress appropriately, and most importantly, what is on my mind every second i am on shift....keeping them safe. and keeping them safe looks different day to day. i've been there 5 months and i feel like they all have changed. grown up before my eyes. and they're dealing with harder and harder things each day.
yes, my job is difficult. and i have to see sad things. but i get to BE the person to be in their lives for the sad things. i get to be the one sitting on the bathroom floor with a girl as i wipe away the blood on her wrists from when she cut herself. and i get to tell her how amazing she is. and that there is hope.
i get to be the one who listens to their stories. who watches them unravel the experiences they've had and can hug them when they realize they have a long way to go. when they're scared of tonight and what they might do. when they're scared of tomorrow for who they might become. and i get to look them in the eyes and tell them how proud i am, for overcoming, for maintaining. and that it WILL be ok.
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