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Each day I come home from work spent.  I am grouchy, worn-out, tired, and I don’t have the energy for my husband or my dogs.  Basically, I’m so fed up I want to punch a kitten.  Don’t get me wrong — work’s not all bad.  I have pleasant interactions with many children; I get to feel special as they all crowd around me in their chaotic classroom for a little piece of order and preschool magic.  I have pleasant interactions with many of my coworkers; we brainstorm new ways to support the kids and work around the paperwork jungle that threatens to engulf us more each week.  Overall, though, I can’t take the good with the bad.  I’ve blogged about my commute, the time-clock, the soon-to-be-locked supply closet, the stupid new paperwork and policies that take the emphasis away from supporting children with special needs.  I’ve bitched about it all, and I just can’t take it all in stride.

I want to be that worker who toughs it out when things are icky, the one who barrels through new transitions with an eye towards what good will come from re-organization, the one who proves herself with iniatives and innovations and the one who makes her own path.  I’m just not.  Or just not here, at my current place of employment.  I don’t feel enough loyalty to stick it out through the tough times.  I don’t feel the good is enough to overcome the rotten.  I had a breakthrough with helping a little boy write the first letter of his name today.  I faded support as, together, we went down, and around to form the capital D, over and over again.  He looked up at me in pride, clapping his hands together as we both shrieked “YAY!”  I don’t care that I’m not the occupational therapist.  I dragged her into the classroom to witness the breakthrough — she was so proud.  Yet sitting through a 90 minute staff meeting chock full of the usual too-little, too-late policy changes, bullshit new regulations on time cards, time clocks, health appraisals, performance evaluations, staffing arrangements, and state recertification, I just shut down.  I couldn’t hear well enough over my tittering neighbors and the air-conditioner, so I stopped trying.  At least 95% of the meeting doesn’t apply to me as  therapist anyway — it’s meant for classroom teachers — and the therapists end up feeling, at least as though our time were wasted, and definitely unacknowledged for our contributions to the school anyway.  I stormed out of the meeting with two minutes left to punch out of the assembly line they call being a speech-language therapist, and drove home with no internal resources for how I’m feeling. 

I cannot detach, nor can I expend enough energy to care.  I’m left in some no-man’s land of apathy and resentment.  I guess these are all symptoms of why I have submitted my notice of resignation.  I have a new job starting mid-September, one that I hope is very different from this one.  I’ll be working with older children — adolescents mainly — in a different setting.  I’m hoping the majority of the teachers know what they’re doing.  I’m hoping the entire staff is highly trained and educated and treated by the adminstration as adults.  I’m hoping I get to be treated like an adult. 

In this state, my resignation period, I’m just counting days left.  I’m scratching tally marks into some imaginary cinder block wall, until I can pack up my desk and fully detach.  Until then, I’m stuck caring, but not caring, listening, but not processing, angry, but without recourse. 

I’m also incredibly fearful.  I do not like change (hence my reaction to endless new policies), and I do not seek out risks, employment-wise.  I want to understand what’s happening, in a predictable fashion. I like to know where things are, and where things go.  None of that will happen right away at my new job.  None of my desires line up with jetting off to seek other employment.  I’m scared to leave what I know and start something brand new.  I’m scared of all the new things I will have to learn — names, faces, paperwork, policies, regulations, communication, e-mail, dress-codes.  I’m scared they’re going to have the kids call me Mrs. SLP.  I’m scared of all these things; yet I must move on. 

I know that getting a new job will not solve all the problems.  I know that a person who has continual problems in relationships, living situations, jobs, and daily interactions is probably herself the problem.  I’m hoping I’m not that type of person.  I desperately need to believe, though, that this new job, whatever promises it may hold, will allow to come home feeling like a human being, not a spent cog in a decrepit machine, and be able to greet my husband and my pets with the joy they deserve.  I often say that I don’t like working, that work is something that keeps us away from those we love, so that we can earn the money that allows us to be at home with those we love.  It helps if it’s something meaningful, something one enjoys, or at least can tolerate.  It’s no good, though, if it chews me up and spits me out ready to rampage at the first sentient being I speak to after 4:00pm.  It defeats the purpose. 

I hope my new job treats me like an adult, and allows me to feel like a human.

Soon, the office supply closet will be locked, just like the classroom supply closet.  There will be a requistion list we can fill out to ask weekly for a supply of things like copy paper, pens, writing tablets, tape, paper clips, and staples.  And allegedly, someone will come along and dole these things out to our waiting desks. 

Just pass out the paste, the crayons, and the paper, please.  Raise your hand nice and high, don’t call out, and you’ll get yours.  Dot, dot, not a lot. 

Now, maybe you’d think this would encourage us to keep track of our supplies better, to count each paper clip, to ask ourselves if we really need to make that next copy, to be mindful of our impact on the environment and our company’s bottom dollar.

Or maybe it’s stooping to the lowest denominator about alleged disappearance of alleged supplies (nothing mentioned overtly), or alleged rapid use of some supplies.  No investigations, no chances to see if anything actually gets used up any faster than it can be accounted for. Not sign-out lists so we can account for our own use, so we can track supplies.  Not even a memo, a staff meeting, or an announcement.  How did I find out?  The door was locked.

So I asked the secretary, who told me what is coming down the line. 

Just another instance of not treating us like adults.  This kind of management, if you can call it that, encourages, at the very least, hoarding.  And greedy grubbing for pens, push-pins, and post-its.  Mine, mine, mine.  No more “Sure, use my stapler; it’s in my top drawer.”  Now it’s every woman for herself, and every supply is sacred. 

I’ve seen this in children who are barely 3.  They’ve usually been in daycare since they were 6 weeks old.  At the least, they’ve been in daycares where there aren’t enough supplies for them to do their work.  A child’s work is play; his play is his work.  If he doesn’t have enough materials, enough blocks, enough sand, enough balls, enough tricycles, he will hoard, he will guard, he will become territorial.  I see this in all manner of preschoolers.  They’re the ones asking me, “Save this for me,” as they press a precious toy into my hand when they line up for the bathroom.  They’re the ones losing playtime in the gym because they’re concerned they’ll lose access to the one desirable/functional tricycle.  They dump out bins of toys and scoop the bulk towards their bodies.  They don’t actually build; they’re more concerned with defending turf.

And this is exactly what will happen in my office if I cannot go get a pen when someone’s made off with mine for the 4th time that day.  This is exactly what will happen when we start making storehouses deep within our desk drawers, with secret stashes of copy paper, file folders, and Sharpies. 

No one better touch my post-it notes, or I’m telling!

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August 2010