I have witnessed an immense growth in those seeking to become counsellors. Often with a warped sense of understanding of why they are studying and what they have to offer others. My first lesson usually centres around the 'why' question; enabling students to gain a clearer understanding of their hopes and fears on embarking on such a life changing course.
Students often share the usual i.e. "People come to me for for help," and/or I want to help others, give back to society."
Occasionally I get a student who seeks to be transparent, authentic and open with choice to study counselling. They are seeking to work on themselves, they seek to grow towards an internal locus of evaluation. Like an emerging butterfly they seek to know their true selves, no matter how difficult and painful the process may be.
It is in these moments, I remember why I am grateful for the gift of being able to teach, facilitate and support. And even for those students who don't quite get what they are doing in my class or why they are studying counselling, I can guarantee by the end of 21 weeks they do.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained"
Today I wept...
Why did it catch your eye you ask?
Well, his father (we’ll call him that) is walking approximately three metres in front of him, checking his smart phone and appearing to have a conversation with the connecting call. I watch. The little boy is shabbily dressed with trousers too small for him. They sway above his ankle, exposing his odd socks. His cute flat cap covers his head and he clutches to a non-identifiable plastic toy, almost for comfort. My heart begins to break.
I watch as the young boy plays with his plastic toy in his hand, the only thing that appears to be keeping safe at the moment. My motherly instincts are on high alert, my safeguarding antenna is shouting ‘DANGER’, and my anger is directed towards his caregiver. I mutter under my breath, protesting at his caregiver’s lack of interest in his son.
You see Clapham Junction is a busy place; the young boy is under a metre tall. He’s lost in the sea of adults. I’m struggling to guard him from afar, watching that not one snatches him. Every motherly instinct starts to kick in. I slow down, no longer in a rush to catch the train on Platform 11. I’ll miss it if I have to. I am concerned for this child, really concerned. I slow down as I reach the top of the stairs on Platform 1, just making sure he is safe. He seems oblivious to the lack of interest that is being taken by his caregiver. He hums and skips as he plays with his toy. The distance between them is growing, the bridge is becoming busier!
There is no backward glance to check on him, no holding of his hand to comfort him. I feel the sting of tears in my eyes. The unfairness at it all as his father chuckles on his phone.
I watch as what seems to me like eternity. The gap is widening further, the boy begins to panic as the rush of people come towards him thick and fast. Oh my, I’m ready to intervene to tell this man off. How could he do this? How can he display such of lack of paternal interest in this chirpy child? I begin to step across heading for his father. Just then he turns around, communicating with a grunting sound that Platform 11 is their destination.
They rush down the stairs, again the little boy some way behind him. We board the same carriage but through different doors. The train is packed. I glance across. No surprise as his caregiver’s head is still buried in his phone. I turn towards the door and tears roll down my cheek, incensed by the injustice of it all. Angry that he chose not to acknowledge his child, afraid for the adult this child may become.