Monday, February 8, 2010

From the Wolf Den: We'll Always Answer

CHYC has a policy preventing kids from sharing their personal contact information with one another during their stay at the school. Upon discharge back to their respective communities, students who wish to remain in contact with each other are allowed the privilege of exchanging info if both sets of parents or caregivers agree. The reasoning is simple and practical; many kids are not discharged at the same time and some, sadly go back to habits and patterns learned prior to admission at CHYC. The policy exists to shield, in a sense, the kids still in school from behaviors staff work so hard to change.

Some time ago Wolf and a buddy conveniently forgot this policy and exchanged phone numbers before Wolf was intercepted with said number, and Yukon and I started receiving phone calls from a city 45 minutes from Anchorage. "Is Wolf there?" a gravelly, pre-pubescent voice inquired. We explained that no, Wolf was still in school and to check back later when we had a better idea of his discharge date (this was last spring). CHYC and the parents are aware of these calls, btw, and left it up to us as to whether or not we wanted any more.

We could have told him to stop calling, for each interaction with the young man, D. was a stark reminder of how much we missed our own teen regardless of his issues. But something told us to wait. A very mannerly young man, D. always responds "Great!" to our question of how he is doing and how school is progressing. He seems genuinely happy to talk with us, even though our conversations are no longer than five minutes and there is no interaction with his buddy Wolf.

When he called last week, I reported no appearance of Wolf yet, and asked how things were going. After an uncharacteristic pause, D. replied "Okay. I'm having a hard time at school." Not knowing how much, or what, to say to a kid I only know from vocal interactions and nothing else, I replied that I would be thinking of him and hoping things got better. I heard a sniff from the other end of the line, and then a quiet "Thanks" came across.

That's why we'll keep answering when he calls. Maybe we made him feel better, maybe not. But we were there, maybe when no one else could be.

I hope it made a difference.

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