When things are going too well
Everybody was convinced that the Kav L’Noar school mentoring group was for 9th graders with ‘issues.’ Amit, still hadn’t gotten over the terror attack he witnessed several years ago. Shalom was chronically shy, no one could remember ever hearing him talk. Mendy and Itzik were both kids who liked to use their fists and were constantly in and out of the principal’s office. Micha only came to Israel last semester- he never had any idea what was going on. Avi and Ilan both had ADHD- although Ilan wouldn’t admit it and Avi only bothered to take his Ritalin on Mondays so he could focus during his favorite art class. And then there was Gidon, the biggest misfit of the group. He didn’t fit in there just because he fitted in way too well with everybody else.
Was he hiding emotional pain?
Gidon did well in all his classes- he wasn’t a genius but his grades were consistently high. He wasn’t the king of the social scene, but he had a solid set of friends. Gidon knew how to have fun outside school- like all kids he spent too much time on his phone but he also played the trumpet in a band. He had a loving and supportive family. But somehow, if you got to know Gidon, you could sense that there was something that never stopped eating at him. Was he hiding emotional pain?
Nevertheless, it took a lot of effort by Yehuda the Kav L’Noar mentor to persuade Gidon to join the group. “I don’t need extra support- there’s nothing wrong with me- he repeated over and over.” Yehuda would say, “I know, but this group is not supposed to be only for kids who’ve got ‘help me’ written on their foreheads. I need you to show everyone that it’s cool to be a member, it’s not a group for losers. Help me out man, just do me a favor and show up to the meetings.”
And so, Gidon would come, week after week. He was patient, he participated, he tolerated Avi bouncing around and tried to smooth things over when Mendy lost his temper. He liked to encourage the others, shushing everyone when Yehuda asked Shalom a question. Yet, when Yehuda would sit in the school library before sessions, psyching himself up to lead the group and reminding himself of all the things that he wanted to achieve, there was one student that worried him more than anyone. That boy was Gidon.
Everybody needs someone!
Yehuda worried about Gidon because he just couldn’t get through to him. Every effort to get him to open up, engage, talk about himself was met with a smile, and, “hey relax, you know that everything’s cool with me.” Yehuda tried every angle to get him to spill the beans, but Gidon was too smart. He’d say, “home’s good, school’s good- what’s to talk about?” Yehuda knew some teenagers seem to be happy on the outside. But inside they are suffering from emotional conflicts.
Finally, during a one on one session, Yehuda asked in frustration. “Fine, you don’t have anything bothering you. But what if something was bothering you? Who would you turn to?” Gidon said, “No one. I don’t need anyone else.” Yehuda looked him straight in the eye and said. “What nonsense are you talking? Since when are you so special? Everybody needs someone, including you. Stop kidding yourself.” It was at that moment that Gidon finally cracked. All the hurt and rage that he had been holding deep inside started to come out, and he finally started to speak freely and truly participate in the process as an equal member of the group.
*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect client confidentiality