It is hard working with young girls, because they are a clique. Because their relationship to one another is far more important than clients. Because their lives are so very dramatic. Because it is all about being cool. Cool clothing. Cool haircuts. Cool shoes. Because they are so very excitable. Because once one is agitated, they all are agitated.
I am 55 years old, and I. Am. Simply. Too. OLD. For. This.
My hair is not cool. It is growing out, and for me that is a very life affirming decision. It means that I have stopped being so fearful of cancer's return that I, once again, have long hair. Well. By 'long' I mean longish. It's getting there. It is at that awkward stage, so I keep it pinned up, mostly, and stray wisps escape because it is not THAT long yet.
My shoes are not cool either. My shoes are comfortable. I need comfort. I am walking daily, walking LOTS, actually, getting my 10,000 steps in with no additional effort required. I walk to town. I walk virtually where ever I need to go. I don't use my car for much more than to get to work and back. It would have never entered my mind that I'd be able to do this. Last winter at the Tractor Supply, I was in agony at the end of a shift. Now I'm walking all over the place. I'm pretty amazed.
I dress to be able to move and to bend, and to work. Jeans and a teeshirt are apparently not all that cool.
My life is quiet. Tim and I don't have arguments to disect at work. I wouldn't anyway. Who knew THAT was not cool?
Last night, a client came to me and said, "Go for walk?" I was speaking to someone else, and held my hand out to him, but he reached for my chin, and he turned my face towards him. "Go for walk?" Yes. We went for a walk. Our second one of the night. I think that the fact that he is communicating with people is cool.
Later I was rubbing lotion on the arms of another client. They say that he has the IQ of a nine month old baby. He screams. A lot. But I have discovered a lot about him. One thing is that he loves the sensation of lotion on his hands. That amazes him, seems like, the way that my fingers slip around in his hands as he tries to grab them. He quiets. Last night, after his shower (which also quiets him down), I began to rub lotion on his hands. Then experimentally, I began to rub the lotion on his arms. He holds his arms out, sitting quietly in his chair. I notice that he is looking at me. Square in my face. He studies me, and his gaze does not waver. He is following one step commands: "Your OTHER hand" and "Lift your foot, please". Encouraged by that, I begin to rub lotion into his legs. He likes that as well, and he vocalizes. It is not a yell, but something quieter, calmer, and it almost seems like it would have a question mark after it if you tried to write it. One of his goals is to get him to look you in the eye for five seconds. Our gaze locked steadily for several minutes. It was a powerful moment. I thought it was very cool.
One of the girls walked in. "You pamper him." It was an accusation. I have been accused of making him worse, that because I 'spoil' him, he yells louder. I just keep on doing what I am doing. I've countered this talk before with the undeniable fact that he's been yelling long before I got here. I've tried to reason with them, pointing out that when they leave him just sitting, screaming, it only makes matters worse, that he CAN be redirected, with a walk, or with motion, or by being placed in a bean bag chair. Other shifts have made suggestions to stop the yelling as well, good ideas. Our girls simply don't. WON'T. It's frustrating to me, because I am old, and I don't have the patience for a lot of unnecessary noise.
It's a conundrum, isn't it? That I should be so fond of what I'm doing, yet struggle so much with the issue of co-workers. It makes me feel like a difficult person, a misfit. Yet, I wouldn't change it, because in the end, the ability to bond with, and to reach a client will be the thing that makes me great at what I do.