Awesome in the same way getting a shark bite is awesome. It’s not, but you have a cool story of heroism to tell after the fact.
But seriously, I actually love my boys, but like with anything else, they can be absolutely infuriating at times.
Unfortunately, you can’t take those infuriating times to heart because they often don’t mean what they say and don’t know how to express themselves. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when the most vile things come out of their mouths and they mean it… but most of the time they don’t… at least I tell myself that.
Every single day is trying and it’s exhausting and it makes you question why you come to work to have kitchen chairs thrown at you, or your life threatened (empty threats, thank goodness), or the siding of a building smack you in the head… but at the end of the day, if you made one kid feel seen and/or heard, that’s enough.
It takes a special person to work in a residential treatment center. I’ve been at mine for 4 years and I’ve seen more people come and go than stay. Some people last a day, a week, if you’re lucky they last a month but then they just stop showing up… but some of us stay and we stay because we know the kids need us. They need stability. They need people who aren’t there only for a paycheck, but to do what they can to help these kids in a system that fails them every single day.
I left full-time because I needed more money, but I stayed part-time because I didn’t want the kids to feel abandoned. I’ve seen how they react when staff quit, or get fired, or forget about them, and it’s terrible. You may not realize it, but we make bonds with these kids and when they graduate and move on from the RTC, it’s heartbreaking.
If we’re being honest, some of them I’d help pack their bags and move them out myself, but for the most part, my boys are good and they respect me the way I respect them. When I come to work they all come say hello and ask for a hug. They ask me if I’ll be the one to take them off campus. And I know that I don’t have to worry about them because we have an understanding.
So, in a nutshell, that’s what it’s like to work in a RTC. It can be awesome, but it can also test your patience and crush your soul. How it affects you depends on the person you are. Either you’re strong enough to work with these kids, or you’re not.
Much love and good luck ladies and gents,