Yesterday I was feeling crushed by the overwhelming weight of all that I have to do at work. I was in despair, not only at the length of my to-do list, but at how urgent it all is, or was. There are times when it is all I can do to keep up with the needs of my clients...."putting out fires" is how I would describe it lately. I have had to testify in court, spend hours scheduling clients for different times now that school is back in session, attend Critical Risk team meetings for all of the crazy situations my clients are facing, file a report with DSS, make sure the insurance companies will pay, and keep up with a million pieces of paper that have to be signed and updated and written. All of this was in my mind while at the office. And then, I did outreach.
I often feel at the end of the day that all I want to do is shake off what I have seen and heard and forget it. And in some ways, this is the healthy thing to do. But I also think that I tend to forget the magical moments that happen. And when they do, the mounds of paperwork don't seem to matter as much.
Yesterday I went to three homes. For confidentiality purposes, I won't use real names or specifics. But I think I can give a picture. I first went to Angela's house. She is seven, and lives in the housing projects, cramped in with several family members because her other house burned down. We decided to therapy outside yesterday. I forget not to wear flip flops when we do that because of the litter in the yard. Yesterday it was trash, a large piece of foam insulation, an abandoned red grocery cart, and a forgotten soccer ball with hardly any leather left on it. Happily she engaged me in a game of soccer, and I let her teach me all the best ways to kick the ball. We put the grocery cart on its side for a goal, and at one point I sat on top of the goal while she fervently kicked it straight in. Then she wanted me to push her around in the cart. Going with it, I did. So I'm in the projects pushing a seven year old around in a grocery cart. She wanted to push me. At that point I drew the line. :o)
Next home: lots of boys for family therapy. They like to play cards and call each other names. One of the boys, Jack, was quite sullen when I arrived, and when I finally got him to tell me why, tears streamed down his tanned cheeks. He didn't want to play cards, so we didn't. I played with a piece of rolled up shaved wood from the table centerpiece, wrapped it around my finger and tried to talk about football and school. His dad offered us both watermelon :o) and slowly words came. The whole time we were sitting there Jack was playing with a broken handheld pinball game. He took out one of the batteries and started spinning it around on the table. So I pushed the centerpiece aside and we started flicking the battery back and forth, figuring out new ways to spin it and get it to go on its side. He would get frustrated sometimes but would try again (this is what we call building frustration tolerance!) Eventually I saw a smile. The other boys came in, intrigued about why in the world we were spinning a battery back and forth. One of the boys rifled around in my toy bag and got out my frogs. My plastic frogs are great. They cost me a dollar at Target and they work with kids from 2 to 15. You have to press on them and make them jump into a little pond. Pretty soon I had four boys playing, and we were keeping score. When I left everyone was laughing. Pretty cool.
Next house: A sweet girl named Amy who has a past you wouldn't want to hear about. But she smiles more now than she used to, which is great to see. Her mom finally bought a car and she was so excited to show it to me, especially the fact that you can adjust the volume on the steering wheel. We played Mancala and War. She won. And did you know they make erasable highlighters? Never seen that one before.
So that was my day yesterday. Now when I think about it, it wasn't so bad.