Exit 101. It’s nice to feel trusted.

I was recently visiting someone, whom I’ll call Albireo.  She was babysitting her 7-year-old cousin for part of the time that I was there.  This kid is hilarious, and once she quickly got over the initial shyness that many kids seem to experience when in the presence of an unknown adult, she seemed to take a liking to me.  At one point, Albireo had left the room for a few minutes to check on something that was in the oven, and the little girl decided that it would be hilarious to tickle me, repeatedly.  I eventually tickled back, and we got into a big tickle fight that eventually led to her standing on the arm of the couch and jumping on me like a wrestler jumping off the ropes to body-slam his opponent. Albireo walked back in the room just as I was getting body-slammed and quickly told her that jumping on people was not acceptable behavior.

During the whole time I was getting tickled, I was a little hesitant to tickle back, and even when I decided I was going to play along, I felt hesitant… mostly because I didn’t want to do anything that might be construed as child molestation or anything like that.  People are way too sensitive about this kind of thing these days.  In my line of work, of course, that kind of allegation can be quite damaging, and I have often been cautioned to leave the door open when students are in my room by themselves.  I was relieved to see that Albireo seemed to trust leaving me alone in a room with her.  It’s nice to feel trusted.

But, wait, you’re probably saying. Albireo is your friend.  Of course she would trust you.  Is there really a reason you think she wouldn’t trust you?

If you’re asking because of anything that happened in the past specifically involving Albireo, then no, I don’t think she would have a reason not to trust me.  But given things that have happened in the past involving other people, one incident in particular, yes.

In 2003, I was attending a Bible study meeting through Church II With The Problems.  Someone I didn’t know brought a baby.  I remember briefly looking at the baby.  I don’t remember exactly what I did or said to the baby, but it wasn’t anything unusual that I, or any normal person, wouldn’t do in a circumstance like that.  A few minutes later, a guy who I had known for almost eight years, since long before I started attending Church II With The Problems (he was essentially how I found that church in the first place) pulled me aside and said that the baby’s mom had told him that I had touched her baby inappropriately.  Whatever it was, it was either a lie or a misunderstanding, and I honestly to this day don’t know what happened to bring about this false allegation.  But what hurt was that the guy who pulled me aside to talk to me was someone I had known for years, far longer than I have known Albireo now.  I would expect him to trust me enough that he could have told the baby’s mom that I wouldn’t do something like that, but he did not.

At work on Friday, the principal stopped by briefly during every period to talk to the students about something, and during my most difficult period, one student was interrupting enough that she asked him to leave the room and talked to him about it before he came back.  (I honestly don’t know if he was given detention or anything like that.)  As I was leaving later that day, I saw the principal, and she asked how the rest of the day went.  I mentioned that it had been good, except that the period when the one boy had interrupted her was unusually poorly behaved the rest of the day, even for them.  As we were talking about various ways to handle that class, not once did she ever make a remark along the lines of, “Well, you just need to control those students better,” nor did I ever feel like I was being scolded for having a class that was out of control.  I felt that from many of my superiors in previous jobs over the years, but it has not been like that here.  I generally feel more trusted and supported currently than I have in the past.

Trust is a touchy subject for me.  As I said, I am used to others not trusting me, because of various negative experiences in the past.  I am also used to being too trusting of others, and then having that trust betrayed.  Be careful whom you trust, but if someone trusts you, don’t ever take that for granted.

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