Friday, February 25, 2011

Just a kid

This isn’t my story to tell, so I’m not going to tell it in depth.

I’m sure that I’ve mentioned before that Meg coaches a local competitive girls’ team. They’re 16 and 17 and have all of that drama and gossip and bullshit that comes with their age, but they are generally a good group of kids.

Yesterday, two of Meg’s players contacted her, asking that they get together to talk. “We’re worried about Brittany. It's off the ice stuff.”

Meaning that the problem was a little more than a spat about playing time or idle threats to quit the team.

So, Meg sets up a time to meet the girls at her favorite restaurant, conveniently, and then calls me in a panic. “I just know that they’re going to tell me something awful. That she’s anorexic or that she’s suicidal and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

She wasn’t exactly on track with her suspicions. But she was close and the whole story – I’m really sorry that I have to be so vague – just breaks your heart. It breaks your heart that this kid is in such an awful situation. It breaks your heart that her teammates, who are only kids themselves, had to shoulder the burden of this knowledge and the accompanying worry themselves until they finally worked up the courage to talk to an adult about what was happening.

This child has a crappy road to travel, but, my God, she is so fortunate to have friends who were smart enough to seek out an adult who they trust. Even if that adult – Meg – called her mother in a panic later that night. “I’m just a kid, Mom. I’m just a kid. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to handle this. I’m just a kid.”

My mom, who is always so smart and supportive and resourceful, talked Meg through the situation. And she reminded her “you’re my kid, Meg, but you’re not a kid. To those girls, you’re a safe, reliable adult who they can trust.”

I’m really proud of how Meg has handled the situation. She’s scared, but she knows what she needs to do. She called Lucy, who is a social worker, for a bit of preliminary advice last night. First thing this morning, she called up Brittany’s high school guidance counselor. Who is the professional. Who is trained to deal with these situations. Who immediately set up a meeting with Brittany, her mom, the school social worker and the school nurse. Who is moving this along at the pace that it needs to be moved along: rapidly. And who will continue to move it along rapidly even if Brittany’s parents drag their feet. By law, she has to.

From top to bottom, the whole situation is terrible.

I just feel awful for this girl. I feel awful for her family. I feel awful for her friends. I feel awful for Meg.

Everybody needs friends like Brittany’s: friends who do the right thing even though it is scary and even though it is hard.

Everybody needs an advocate like Meg: an advocate who is quick and resourceful and fearless. Who is aware that she may be making enemies and continues to move forward relentlessly.

In that respect – even though she is in the middle of a situation that is unbearably difficult – Brittany is so lucky. Because this very well could have gone the other way. What if she didn’t have the friends that she does? What if, instead of having Meg for a coach, those girls had someone’s father – someone who they didn’t feel that they could talk to?

It feels almost like divine intervention. Like Meg was put in that situation – coaching that particular group of girls – for a reason. The calmness with which she is approaching the situation now that the initial shock has worn off. The delicate, calculated use of her own resources. She may think of herself as just a kid, but she isn’t acting like one.


Thisisme said...

Props to Meg.

If only the young adult world had a built in buddy system. . .might save a lot of lives from disasters and even death. At least this girl had friends; who, had Meg.

Lucky on all levels.

Teagan B. Sawyer said... lucky for this girl to have a coach like Meg in her life. Hope it all works out and she gets the support she needs (sounds like she is well on her way).

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