Monday, February 5, 2007

Mentoring Gone Wrong

I'm going to try my hand at writing a blog that conveys my current feelings without providing more information than my reader needs to know. You'll have to let me know if I succeed.

I'm trying to figure out why I put up with a brooding, annoying classmate of mine. Not simply: Why do I put up with him? But, why do I try so hard to reassure him that he's going to be a good teacher?

Right off, I'll say that there is nothing romantic here. I have no attraction for this classmate. This is part of the reason why I generally just don't understand why I try so hard to cheer him up, make him feel like he's important, and feel a certain affection toward him.

Earlier this year, we were given new students to mentor. I do not connect with the girl I'm supposed to be mentoring. I do connect with this classmate. His real mentor and I are friends. He's kind of our pet project.

He's moody, negative to an amazing degree, argumentative, and thinks the world is out to get him. He's very open about it. I generally don't associate with people like that. But I like the kid, for some reason.

I always go right to his table in the lounge because he always seems to be there. I give him a big, friendly smile and greet him warmly. I ask him how his classes are going, how his weekend was, how his observations are going. I battle his negative feedback with helpful tips from my experience.

Somedays, I'll see him and he's in a really good mood.

"Melissa! You have to hear this song, it's in my head and I've been waiting for you to get here so you can hear it!"

"My mom bought my dad a Wii for Christmas, I've been playing all weekend, it's awesome!"

I think he's always happy to see me, I don't think my positive outlook bothers him or that I'm always trying to cheer him up annoys him. Somedays, he's just so depressing.

"I wasn't going to come in today. I wish I could just sleep for a week. No one would even know I wasn't here."

"I'm just taking it one quarter at a time. It's a fucking joke. I'm not going to finish the program."

He genuinely wants to be a teacher. I think he will have a gift to reach the unreachable kids. I spend all this time trying to reassure him that he's going to make it, etc. that it's taking away from the time I have to enjoy myself with my more positive classmates.

Tonight in class, I was talking to the girl on my right about things girls talk about and we were having fun. He was to my left making his sad and angry little noises and I abandoned my conversation to coddle him.

As we were being divided by our teacher into groups, he complained that he was being forced into a group of annoying girls (he's the only male in the class) and he should just go home. I told him in that special way that I have to "get your ass over there and quit acting like a baby." This is how he needs to be spoken to. I think he likes it.

As I was working in my group, I noticed that he was perfectly normal, animated and contributing. But when we went back to our seats after the exercise, he went back to brooding.

I think he wants my attention. Seriously. I'm not being narcissistic here. He acts like an ass, I pay attention. He's happy, I feel more free to talk to other people.

So, given my assurances that I have no attraction for him, why do I feel the need to "fix" him even though I think that to an extent, he's playing a part to get my attention?

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