At the beginning of the week, I started making phone calls to parents to introduce myself and see if they had any questions or concerns. One parent called back and said she'd been meaning to call -- she and her husband were recently separated and she wanted someone to check in with her two children. I told her I'd be happy to do so. When I went to get her daughter from class, I just happened to walk in when the classroom teacher was having the students work on drawing a picture of their families. I casually pulled up a chair next to the student, and she almost immediately volunteered that her family had four people in it, but that her parents were separated now. She made it too easy! We flowed naturally into a conversation about what it's like to have parents in separate homes and what those changes felt like. She told me her mom had said she should go to counseling (to which she told her mom, "What?! I'm not crazy!" ;-)), and so we talked a little bit about what a school counselor does and how you don't have to be crazy to talk to one.
By the end of the day, I was able to sit down with the mom and both kids to talk about what feelings the kids were having because of the separation. To do this, I cut out a feelings faces poster and had the kids spread out all of the feelings in front of them and choose some that they were experiencing to talk about. I was really nervous for this session, but it ended up going pretty well, I think, and the family was an ideal one to work with. The mom was honest, and real, and supportive, despite how difficult it was for her to hear feelings like shocked, confused, and disappointed coming from her sweet children.
Lesson of the day: sometimes things flow seamlessly and fall perfectly into place, and even though it wasn't a conversation that ended tied neatly in a bow, we got somewhere.