Saturday, June 26, 2010

No Kid Gloves Worn Here

So I started my new job 2 weeks ago. For those keeping score, this is my 2nd part time job - a.k.a., my afternoon job. I have another job that I work 4 mornings a week whereas this new job is 5 afternoons a week. It's basically what I was considering my "summer job" - a job to have/more income to have while I wait for my morning job to offer me more hours.

The thing is, now that I've been working it a couple weeks, I see how much I actually like it there. And I also have a glimpse into more duties they want me to take on in the nearish future - basically doing writing/advertising for them. Cool! Definitely a job to love for as long as I can keep it!

Funny/ironic thing, though, is that this business is a company that makes anti-chafing powders for runners/hikers/etc. You know - pretty much the heavy-duty, killer pro runners out there are our major customers. And here I am, a physically disabled woman who needs help from leg braces and a walking stick to get around, working for them and potentially writing for them. Go figure.

Part of my job there is to package and ship orders. Many of which are pretty small orders to individuals. Not huge packages, not too heavy or difficult for me to manage at all. But other orders, for distributors, stores, etc., are very large and heavy.

Now, I'm absolutely not saying that I can't handle it. As I said in my interview, I can definitely manage what they need done - I just may have to go about it in a different way to accommodate my needs. But, basically, no problem. And, in actuality, that has been the case. I can do whatever they need me to do - I just may be a bit slower or accomplish the task in a different way then someone more physically able would. And it's all just fine.

But what has kind of taken me aback - just because I'm not used to it - is how my boss and co-workers treat me. And how do they treat me? Just like anyone else.

Shocking! Isn't it?!

As I've said here before on more than one occasion, I'm kind of used to being taken care of. I'm used to people offering to do things for me - not because I can't do whatever, but because they know they can do it quicker/easier/or they're just nicely offering to do something so I don't have to do it. Which, you know, is all fine and good. And, in fact, I probably more often than not take people up on their offers of assistance because - yeah - it would be a lot easier of someone else just did whatever.

But at my new job - nope. I have my jobs to do and people expect me to do them.

Hmmmm.... this is not coming out they way I mean for it. I don't mean to be saying that, "Man! I can't believe what these people are making me do! They're so cold and uncaring and just telling me to 'do this now and do it right, or else!'" That's not it at all. I work with some really great people and I am treated so well there. How I mean this to sound is - "Wow. These people aren't questioning my abilities at all. I said I can do X and they know I'll get X done, however it is I need to do it. They're not concerned that they've asked too much of me. They're not offering their help because A) it's my job, not theirs, to get X done, and B) that's just it - I'll get it done one way or another. The end."

They also probably realize that if I do need help, I'd certainly ask for it myself. And I would - and have, actually! At which point they are more than happy to assist. But they don't offer it on their own.

Wow! How refreshing!

An example: Yesterday my boss and I (BTW - my boss is about 7 months pregnant with twins, so she's obviously not in all that better condition to do physical tasks than I am) were packing up many orders, a few of which were quite large. But instead of her telling me to take care of the little orders while she handles the larger/heavier/crazier orders, she had me do the big stuff. Since she already knew I knew my way around the smaller orders, she wanted to give me practice on the larger, not-as-typical orders. Which, of course, all made a lot of good sense and I was happy to work this way. But I have to say, I'm just more used to someone offering to do the bigger/heavier stuff for me while I take care of the lighter things.

I had to gather heavy things, box them all in a large box, cut the box down to size, and tape up the box. Which I did. Yeah, it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to do. And I probably didn't do it in the easiest way that I could have - or someone else would have done it. But I got it done on my own. Correctly. And now I know what it takes to handle a larger order. Cool!

It also kinda surprised me at one or two points during this time yesterday that when I kind of stumbled or fell back on my butt - (note: no Amy was harmed in the packing of these items. I am just clumsy. No problem) - that my boss didn't make any remark whatsoever to me. Didn't ask me if I was okay. Didn't say boo. Which, you know what, was totally FINE, and actually COOL! Like I said, she knows my physical limitations and must realize I'm gonna trip up or whatever along the way and there's no need to comment on it. Like I said - if I need help, she knows I'll ask for it. If I fall and actually do hurt myself, I'll let someone know. Obviously. Otherwise? It's s'all good.

Anyway - someone reading this may think that I'm writing this all as a complaint about the cold, heartless, expect-way-too-much people I now work for. But actually, it's honestly like a breath of fresh air.

No one's treating me with kid gloves in my new job. I'm thinking, likewise, that maybe - just maybe - I'll start to look at myself with a fresh set of eyes and will feel more like a can-do adult as well!

This "summer job" just might be one of the best things I'll ever do for myself!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Easing Back Into Things...

... with a Tall Tale...

By Sweetie...

The Story of the fork & spoon
(a tall tale)

once apon a time there was a fork & spoon.

Then they were on a machine. Spoon said "help! I'm bleeding!," 
fork said "that's not blood, that's red coloring.,"

When they got off the machine they looked even better.
(I had Sweetie correct her misspellings for this page.)

then they became party utensils.

then someone used them. that was cool.

Then they went on a car trip.
they shared chocolate coverd almonds

then they had asparagus.

(bye!) (See you next time!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The 3 R's

Relieved, Relaxed and Rejuvenated!

Wow! Thank you, everyone, for your lovely comments on my last posts. You've truly made me feel better - not only validated, but also relieved, relaxed and, most of all, rejuvenated to start blogging again! Beyond the comments on the specific circumstances surrounded my last 2 part post, your very presence gave me a real Sally Fields-type moment. "You like me! You really like me!" Pitiful that I need to hear that? Maybe. But so, so good for the soul to know that people like to read your writing, see what you have to say, and look forward to anytime you get around to saying it. Thank you for that lift! I needed it.

Writing that post, as I predicted at the onset, did allow me to let some steam off about the whole situation. Writing always does that for me. I can't quite work things out for myself just thinking about situations. And even talking about things... well, I'm just a must better writer than talker. Talking would most likely only frustrate me more, not to mention the poor people doomed to listen to me babble on and on - Lord knows they don't want to hear it... for the umpteenth time... again! And so I write.

That last post took me at least 2 1/2 hours of non-stop writing to get all out. And yet the time just flew by. Sweetie was actually here in the house with me as I wrote, but old enough to entertain herself while I did my thing. And after finishing? That was it. That's all I needed. I felt better, I had gotten everything I was feeling inside out into the world, and I could finally let it go. Writing truly is a healing art.

And then you all began to comment. Writing alone really would have been satisfactory enough for me. But your comments. Wow! There are other people out there who have felt this same way! Whose kids act the same way! Who have overreacted along with their kids in certain situations instead of taking the high road and dealt with things in a calmer, more properly parental manner! I am not the only one! And, not only that, but a reminder that things are rarely as bad as you - in the middle of the situation - think they are to those who are observing from not so close by. Thank you all, for helping in so many ways.

And so, with all this... reminders of how great it feels to write, reminders of the folks who are interested in reading what I have to say, reminders of what I want to share with the world... I am renewing my vow to commit to this blog. Of course it figures, in a way, that I'm feeling rejuvenated now, of all times, to get back into it. On Monday I will be starting my 2nd part time job. So now I will work 4 mornings a week and 5 afternoons a week (instead of just the morning hours.) And summer vacation started a week ago for Sweetie. So when I'm not working, I'm sure to want to spend some time hanging out with her. But you know what? I've always said that I enjoy a challenge. I used to maintain this blog multiple times a week along with my full time working hours, when Sweetie was younger and needed more of my attention. I can do it again, with not even half that many outside working hours. I am excited to get going again!

First thing first - I really need to clean up my side bars. There are blogs mentioned there that are no longer maintained or have different addresses that need updating. There's too much ad clutter. Things just need to be pared down. And as I've also mentioned semi-recently, I'd love to get a new look for my site. I love that baby picture of Sweetie up top there, but she's almost 7 1/2 now! I need a change. I'm excited to see how this place can be spruced up a bit!

Look for me to start regularly posting again. I'm not going to promise anything too drastic at this point, but certainly we could say at least once a week. Hopefully more - we will see.

Thanks again for your kind words and your interest in reading. With your interest, and my love for writing, we can go far!

Here's to a fresh start!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Case of Mom Calling the Kiddo Whack? (Part 1)

No one reads this here blaaawg anymore, right? So what the hay. I'll use it and abuse it to let go of a little steam, I'll (potentially) feel better, and no one will be the wiser. Sounds like a win/win situation to me! Cool. On we go!

So since about March, I think, Sweetie has been taking weekly "performance" classes in a town about a half hour away. We signed her up for, essentially, musical theater class - level 1. What that actually turned out to be was a weekly hour long class consisting of a half hour of singing lesson and a half hour of dance lesson. Whatever. Not exactly acting, but the stepping stones of such nonetheless. She seemed to really enjoy it and I was happy to take her for the fun, learning, and socialization.

The whole class culminated in her class having a spot in the performance school's year end show. Basically, a dance recital show at which her particular class would have a number where they danced and sang at the same time (and another number where they only sung while a more advanced level of the group both sang and danced.)

This final show was this past Saturday. 15 members of our family (including Hubby and I) - and one house guest of my parents' (someone we know from church) - came to support our little Sweetie in her very-first-ever-recital-on-the-very-same-stage-her-cousins-have-danced-on-in-their-recitals-OMG-how-very-exciting!!!! She got to wear a costume! And makeup! And maybe people would give her flowers! This was the greatest!!!!

I dropped Sweetie off in the designated area for the performers, then went with Hubby to meet the rest of our large group. I wished Sweetie luck as I left her (to tell her to "break a leg" would have been too confusing to her, causing too much explanation and it just wasn't worth it.) And, knowing her tendencies from past school concerts to be all-consuming worried upon first getting on stage until she spots a familiar face in the crowd, I told her "don't look for us in the audience." Just do her thing and don't worry about that.

"Okay, Mommy!" as she skipped happily away into the general buzz of back stage chaos.

As the whole famn damily sat down in our seats, my mom asked if I told Sweetie to not look for us (Ha! See - we all know the ways of one little Sweetie).

"Yes, but I don't know how well it actually sank into her head (that is - who knows if she really heard me or not.)

Time would tell...

The show started. It was pretty much your typical dance recital, except with the older teenagers doing some truly impressive theatrical dance numbers unlike anything I'd ever seen in recitals before. Sweetie's group was not in the first half of the show.

Intermission. Second half. Here comes Sweetie's group!

Uh. She was singing, as she was supposed to be. But she was looking to the side. A lot. And not particularly interested in her singing. Much more interested in continuing her intense stares off to the side.

I thought at first that the bright lights bothered her. I instantly felt really bad/guilty for not warning her of these really bright lights. Poor Sweetie.

Then after a bit came her group's singing/dancing number. It was great!.. Well, you know. As great as a bunch of 7 and 8 year old girls can be who haven't exactly made it their life's work to master the detailed nuances of each little dance step or each precise note. And the start of it was confusing/off because the band's playing sounded nowhere near like the notes of the song they were to sing. But still, it was cute...

...until the end of that number. I knew it was a tricky ending. Three rounds of the chorus before the forth time around saw a bit of a change to the words. I helped Sweetie practice this quite a bit, so she'd get used to what to sing, for how long, before the words changed a bit. She got to be really good at it and truly knew her stuff. She was all set.

Too bad her 5 performance mates were not so wonderfully aware of how it all wrapped up. And so, unfortunately for Sweetie, majority ruled and the lyric change-up - and accompanying dance steps, came about at the end of the third chorus repeat. Not the forth. Uh oh.

Yes, I told Sweetie that no matter what happened, "just keep swimming." I told her a lot. Over and over. That is, there is no way she did not have this concept firmly implanted in her brain. However, Sweetie IS Sweetie, after all. And Sweetie was none too happy - AT ALL - about this mix up. At all.

As the other girls in her group finished as close to the proper way they had practiced to end, Sweetie threw her arms out to her sides in exasperation. The other girls left the stage, as they were supposed to. Sweetie stood in disbelief. She stood firm, looking/pouting off stage to, presumably, one of her teachers or whatever other adult was nearby. Whomever it was backstage, finally convinced Sweetie to get off the stage. Sweetie started to cry. My heart - as it was already breaking from the disappointment I knew Sweetie must be feeling ("they didn't do it right! They did the change the third time around, not the fourth!") - finally broke clean in half.

I instinctively felt like I should go to Sweetie to comfort her. But my family stopped me. They said the teachers would take care of her. I shouldn't go anywhere.

I stayed, but I really could not enjoy the rest of the show. A few acts were good enough to catch my attention and almost turn my spirits around, but the looooooonnnnnnnnggggggg breaks between, what?, the last 3 or 4 songs ("What in the world are they doing back there! This is absolutely ridiculous!") returned my mood to just as sour - if not moreso - as it was after Sweetie's breakdown. :(

Oh well. Finally, FINALLY, the end of the show came. But, of course, it's never quite the end until the Director says it's the end, gosh darn it! Every last performer from every last class had to come on stage for final applauds. Flowers had to be distributed. Final dances of graduating dancers had to be danced. Thank you's said (all without mikes on the speakers mind you.) It was flippin' awesome. Heh.

But... back to all the performers on stage while all this flower giving, speech making, final dance dancing was going on...

There was Sweetie, stage left with her dance crew, yo, desperately - and I do mean desperately - absolutely scouring the audience for our family (or probably, in her mind, just me and her Daddy. Whatever.) Both hands covering her forehead, keeping the bright lights as much out of her eyes as possible, not paying a lick of attention to anything else going on onstage. Just. Searching.

This was a good 10 or 15 minutes, people. Maybe longer???

Trouble was. Sweetie was almost constantly looking off to the left side seats. Our family was in the center.

Remember - we were a group of 16. We took up almost an entire row, and then some. And ALL of us saw Sweetie's, sad, pitiful, So Sad, "no one is here for me at all!," so so pitifully sad searching. Finally standing up at the end up it all in sad, pitiful, pouty defeat. Head hanging low. Her arms out wide to the side again, presumably telling one of her classmates that she just can't find her family ANYWHERE!

And nearly all 16 of us - well, let's say at least half of us - were crazily waving our hands every few seconds this whole time so that Sweetie would actually see us. Making damn FOOLS of ourselves - right there in the middle of the auditorium as so many things we should have been paying attention to were happening on stage. Totally not listening. Totally not watching respectfully. Only waving frantically just so poor, sad, pitiful little Sweetie would notice us! What the heck?!!!

Phew! I am working myself up here again, people! It's been, what?, Four days now and I still can't let this go! And I haven't even gotten to the "good" (ha!) part yet!

(to be continued...)

Mom Calling the Kiddo Whack (Part 2)

(continued from previous post...)

SO! The whole thing, now, is TRULY finally over and I ask my oldest brother to please go retrieve Sweetie from the stage - Sweetie who is now, again, in full out tears because (presumably) she could not find us and, therefore, no one is actually here for her to have witnessed her show. Poor, poor Sweetie. Let me get by. I need to see my Sweetie. She needs me. Needs reassurance. She's so woefully sad. My baaaby!

My brother gets her off stage. Grabs her up in his arms. They're coming towards us. She is crying. Oh, the heartbreak!

She's put down and comes towards me. I open my arms to her for a comforting hug and to let her know what a great job she did.

She pushes me away. Pushes. Me. Away.

"I couldn't find you!"

"I know! Those lights are so bright! But we all saw you! You were great! Good job!"

"You TOLD me to find you!"

(Whoa. This is one angry, snippy girl. And there goes my sympathy. Bye bye)

"No. I didn't. I told you to NOT look for us."

"No!! You told me I SHOULD look for you!"

(and the sympathy goes completely out to sea. On a nice sea cruise. With cocktails.)

"Okay. So your letting this ruin the whole night for you and it's all my fault, then. I get it"

And, of course, 7 year old girls obviously don't quite get the concept of facetiousness and she proceeded to BLAME ME, repeatedly, loudly, angrily for her terrible situation to various members of our family as they tried, God love them, to praise Sweetie, present her with flowers, and/or otherwise comfort her from her, what?, overwhelming certainty that no one was there for her performance???

Finally, after the rest of the family more or less gave up and proceeded to the back of the auditorium, leaving Hubby and I to deal with calming Sweetie the heck down, we too made our (angry) way up to meet them. Sweetie saying once again that it was "all Mom's fault." And I, just as angrily as she could ever be, let her know that I was actually kidding when I said that, you know.

Blah, blah, blah... Sweetie was angry (or maybe it was sadness/scaredness - but presented in a very angry way) and unreasonable/unconsolable (so many family members trying to reassure her!) Which only made to heighten my anger/unreasonableness of the situation. Sweetie now moving on to other issues. Like how her "boots" (a.k.a. white plastic-y things up tightly to her shins) were "too tight and we'd never get them off. Never! Too tight!" From that point on I really can't tell you if Sweetie was truly That Bad, or my anger had reached such a level that I imagined her behavior much worse than it was in reality. 

At any rate. I had truly Had It. The whole family was now involved in this awkward, uncomfortable situation with Sweetie still snapping about whatever she could and Hubby and I snapping back. In my anger I declared Sweetie to be Done. Obviously her not finding us had ruined the whole entire show for her. She obviously couldn't handle this At All. No more acting lessons for her. She killed it for herself. Good job, Sweetie. Good going.

Family left. Her oldest attending cousin stopped to give more reassuring words - more about how "those lights are so bright and you can't see anything, but we all saw you and you were great!". And our friend from church - a teenager who absolutely adores Sweetie - was so awesome and came excitedly up to her to express how awesome Sweetie was, how good she was, and how happy she was to have been able to come to the show. She picked Sweetie up her arms for a great big squeeze. 

Both of these encounters, plus a bit of time, I suppose, had finally worked to at least stop Sweetie's tears and anger. We all left. 

And as we closed our car doors, I started my own tearful rant.

45 minutes home. Almost 45 minutes of Sweetie being forced to listen to Hubby and I (okay, mostly me) speak at her about how disappointed we were in her behavior. How we should be so happy right now, so excited for her and congratulatory - not angry, sad and punishing her. How much we'd been looking forward to seeing her in her show and how her terrible behavior had completely ruined everything. How she would be writing apology letters to every family member who came. How we didn't think she deserved to finish out the month left of classes. How she'd not be able to take classes again in the fall. Who would want to take time out of their schedule to come to one of her shows, anyway, if this was how she was going to behave. How very, very disappointing this whole thing had turned out thanks to her awful, unacceptable behavior.

She sat there and took it all in. "Yes, Mom." "Yes, Dad." Not fighting anymore. Not disagreeing. Not crying! Just took it. As well she should have.

We got home, she got ready for bed, I poured myself a glass of wine and Hubby got a beer (beverages we simply NEVER have at such a late time of the day, unless we're having a party or some such entertainment. But they were sorely needed now.) We were all done saying our peace.

Hubby put Sweetie to bed, and I was able to do as I usually do and hug her goodnight, also starting to reassure her that we love her always, no matter what - it's just behaviors and actions that we are sometimes disappointed in.

"I know, Mom. I know you always love me no matter what."

Wow. THAT's impressive. Actually, her not sobbing all the way home as we laid into her, plus her ability - at 7 years old - to grasp the concept that she is loved always even when we are angry - I give her that as a very mature thing to have a handle on at her age. 

The next day, before church, she wrote her letters to Nana and Papa plus the one for our church friend. After church, she was not to do anything until the other letters were written. They were all written, in short order, with no fuss. Put in Monday's mail. I presume all have been received by this point.

Hubby and I both admit to being quick to temper. We are both stubborn. Believe me, we are not at a complete loss for where Sweetie's similar behavior comes from. So maybe this really is a case of the pot calling the kettle black - and being really angry about it! But I, for one, am absolutely sick of disciplining her - of having to deal with her poor behavior - in front of family and friends. This incident marked the second time in a row, in recent days. Hubby and I are both sick of snapping back at her to "speak nicely!" when she snaps at others about one thing or the other. Great, huh? Us using snappy, angry tones when we're needing to get her to use nice tones. But on the other hand - I can't see our saying sweetly, "Now, Sweetie. Speak nicely please" as we demurely shake our finger at her and "tsk tsk" as a disciplinary action that would work either. 

I don't know if I'm more embarrassed about the family witnessing her, and my, angry temper or if I still can't believe how utterly awful her behavior was. I can't decide if maybe her behavior, in the end, wasn't all THAT terrible and it was just my personal anger toward her and the situation that clouded my perception of the whole thing. Or if we've suitably disciplined her enough - or too much - for all that transpired that night. I just don't know...

Parenting is hard. Sweetie really is, generally speaking a good girl. She eats too slowly. She doesn't always listen. But she's a good, caring, smart girl. So when she veers away from her typical good behavior, it's just so shockingly difficult and troubling to deal with. 

I'd like my Owner's Manual now, please. Thanks.