Overwhelmed

Today I have cried a few times. I have dealt with many, many children who have come to me purely to avoid their classes but I have seen a handful who have really needed me to be there for them and they have absolutely broken my heart. Six months on I am still finding my feet as a school nurse and my eyes have been completely opened. I work in one of the schools that no middle class white person wants to send their child to. And I have never felt like I am making a difference more than I do now.

I cannot believe that in 2019 so many children are living in conditions that I thought had finished in my Nan's lifetime. Children living with their mum and five siblings in a small flat with only the sofa to sleep on. Children who regularly attend school with no food or money to buy it. Children whose parents refuse to collect them when they are bent over in so much pain that they can't walk. Children struggling to adjust to life in foster care. Children who are terrified to tell their parents that they are pregnant. And what staggers me most is the amount of children who have court orders in place that prevent any contact with their mother whatsoever. I just had no idea this was as prevalent as it is. I want to take these kids home, give them a proper dinner and let them know that they are beautiful, funny, sweet and full of character with so much potential ahead of them. But by so many they are only seen as naughty.

It sounds like a cliché but these children, and I stress children, just want some love and attention. I can't begin to imagine the sorrow, rejection, stress and bewilderment that these kids have experienced, some of them for their whole lives. In some it manifests as apathy, some as wild cheekiness, some seek love in dangerous places, some use destruction - including self harm - and some just have such a quiet air of deep sadness.

I love these kids and want to do so much for them but I can't. I can only listen, treat them medically, refer them where appropriate, work with my colleagues to achieve the best possible outcome for them and hope that when they look back they remember me as someone who didn't judge them and showed them kindness. I know that I am not alone. I am amazed by the staff who have been working at the school far longer than I have. They know these children so well, are surprised by nothing and work so hard for their welfare. These kids deserve so much more than I can give them and I have finished my day feeling overwhelmed by the needs of so many children in my town. A colleague told me earlier in the week that she sometimes has sleepless nights thinking of some of the kids she works closely with. Tonight I know just what she means.

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