In Need of Advice
The school I used to teach at is a boarding school for teens with family style houses and a Montessori-like educational philosophy. Tonight, I steered my car along the bumpy gravel road up to one of the boarding houses where I promised my two friends (a young married couple) that I would relief house parent for one evening. This freed them up to drive to Raleigh for a kickin’ Tubobkrew and Donna the Buffalo show (and still make it back on time for tomorrow’s birthday bash and Moon Howl at my house).
Although my old life there was stressful, it is a joy to return to the old stomping grounds as a friendly face “just lending a hand.” I get all the perks of knowing the job (including the Cove Policy, which students often try to bend or conveniently “forget”) and I get to maintain connections with the kids (for example, Cedar Mae) – without the hassle of full-time exhausting work that drains me of all writing juice.
Tonight, Sam was in particular need of advice. He is a fifteen-year-old mature young man that comes off awkwardly at first but, when given time, is really quite sweet and inquisitive.
“Do you want to see a picture of the girl I like?” he asks, looking at me only out of the corner of his eye. “I’ll bring it downstairs, hold on.”
The picture is one of many in a family album, and was taken over the holidays. Scott’s crush is perched next to a gleaming black Labrador and younger brother. She has a broad smile and wears a lovely green sweater. Like Scott, her braces appear to be particularly uncomfortable.
“See and she never calls me. But I wrote her a nice card. And when I call she talks a lot to me and shares things with me. I had a good talk with her mother over the holidays. The mom says that her daughter liked the card. What do you think?” he asks, shielding nothing.
“Well, I’m impressed that you’ve talked to her mother, and-“
“No, I mean – you’re a girl. What do you think?” he repeats. He goes on in detail for at least fifteen minutes and is clearly love sick. “I’m afraid to ask her to go out with me because I don’t want to scare her. But I want to ask her, I want to ask her badly.”
“Did you consider the fact that she might be waiting for you to ask her?” I try, recalling my own patience as a young woman.
“Yeah, but what is she says ‘No’? I’m just too scared. I can’t – I don’t know what to do.”
We talk for about thirty minutes and I am unable to offer any suggestions to subside this young man’s emotional turmoil. He is stuck in the land of in-between and what-ifs and bless his heart, he sounds so smitten.
When it is time to go I give him a hearty pat on the shoulders and wink at him.
“Look Sam, you tell me how it goes, ok? Keep me posted!”
Teenage boys in love. I remember it all too well.