“I don’t believe the things my dad says about you.”
(Uh oh.) “Well that’s good. What did he say about me? Wait… do I want to know?”
“Probably not.” (Pause) “Let’s just say he doesn’t think you know what you are doing and you aren’t helping me at all.” (Another pause) “I think you are helping me though.”
“Hmmm. Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Sometimes people say things when they are upset that they don’t necessarily mean later on.”
This was a conversation I had with one of the kids I work with a week or so ago. Last year at this time I would have been livid over this comment. In fact, about two years ago almost the exact same situation did happen and I was FURIOUS. Another kid had shared with me during a session that his father (why is it always the fathers?) had said I was “too stupid to fix him” (meaning the kid). I already had a pretty negative relationship with this father so the defamation of character really sent me over the edge. So much so that I wrote this father a particularly nasty letter in my journal that night.
(WARNING: When I get righteously angry it’s not often a pretty sight. This entry is rated PG-13 for explicit language and spiteful content…)
February 22, 2011
It is my understanding that you think I am “too stupid” to “fix” your child, well I am here to tell you that if you weren’t such a piss poor excuse for a human being, let alone a father, your kid wouldn’t need “fixed” in the first place. You may not think much of my degree or occupation, but that’s perfectly alright as my esteem for low-life’s such as yourself is non-existent. Maybe if you stop beating your wife and emotionally abusing your eight year old son I could find some empathy for you, but alas, I find that highly unlikely.
I also find it highly unlikely that you will understand the majority of this letter because, while you try to pass yourself off as educated, you are nothing but a smarmy asshole who uses too much hair gel and is probably lucky to have a high school diploma. And while I know many people who have lower educations and are perfectly amicable you seem to believe that you are some God’s gift to the world which makes you not only conceited, but a twat to think your presence makes this world a better place. While I may be “stupid” at least I can find enjoyment and validation in positive ways rather than terrorizing and threatening small children to make myself feel good. That just makes you a cocksucker and I hope someone comes along and dick slaps you in the face so you know what it feels like.
Your friendly neighborhood social worker.
When I go back and re-read this entry I alternate between laughing hysterically (because it truly is funny) and being ashamed that I could be so hateful even if this man was a cretin. Then I remember that, like the father earlier this week who said “I didn’t know what I was doing,” being angry can make you do and say some crazy shit.
It is for this reason that I was pleasantly surprised that I WASN’T angry about this person’s recent comments. In fact, I found myself later feeling grateful. Why the hell would I be grateful for someone calling me incompetent you might ask? Well, because it gave me the opportunity to see how much I’ve grown. Almost the exact same remark from a couple of years ago ago made me spew venom and hate all over the page, whereas this week I said “that’s nice” and let it go. I am grateful because it was a lesson in self-confidence. I knew I was doing everything and more to help this family and that was good enough for me. If they don’t think I am doing my job then they can fire me- no big deal. (I would like to point out that they haven’t done so yet so I must being doing something right.)
As much as I complain about how much I hate my social work job, and whoa-buddy can it crazy stressful and intense sometimes, I have come to realize, that while it’s not something I want to do too much longer, it has definitely changed and challenged me a lot as a person.
When I first started working this job straight out of undergrad I was fresh-faced and optimistic that I was going to “change the world one client at a time!” Oh how sweet and naive I was. It’s almost comical now. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am a jaded, crusty old social worker (for one I am not that old), but I am a lot more cynical than I used to be. Some may see this as a bad thing, and too much cynicism can be, but it has also made me a lot less gullible and a lot more street savvy. It has helped me develop a “tougher skin.” It is much easier to take criticism than it used to be and I am a lot better at letting things roll off my shoulders than I was.
I think that confidence alone has been monumental. I have definitely had moments throughout the last three years as a counselor where I have thought- “Shit, if I can get through that I can get through anything!” From a kid projectile vomiting all over the shelter house in the park (yeah, that was fun), to impromptu couple’s counseling to save a marriage when I simply thought I was picking a kid up to go to McDonald’s, this job has really pushed me to be a better counselor, and ultimately a better person. Despite the daily stress and frustration, this has been the greatest gift I could have received.
With this month being over I am realizing that being consciously grateful everyday is a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. However, even if this new perspective towards my job is the only thing I gain from undertaking the virtue of gratitude for this month (and it isn’t), I would still consider it a win. Being able to say “I am grateful a parent thinks I am an idiot” is definitely not something I ever thought I would hear myself say.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I don’t secretly think those dads are twat-waffles, but at least I am not going to rage about it in my journal. That my friends– is progress 🙂
Switching gears, tomorrow is the first day of a new month, which means I am going to have a new focus. December is actually the only month out of the year that I am going to have two virtues- generosity and hospitality. My big projects this month are making mittens and hats to donate to a homeless shelter and adopting a family for Christmas. Every year one of the elementary schools I work for creates a list of students from low income families who cannot afford to have a traditional holiday. The staff then take these names and buy clothes and toys for the children to open on Christmas day. This is such a big deal for the kids because often this is the only time in the year they get any new clothes or a new toy. With that said, if anyone reading this is interested in contributing to either project please contact me via Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any contribution would be extremely appreciated not only by myself, but by all the families in need who will receive help this holiday season!