I love my job as a Special Education aide. I do. Although I hate going to work at 9:00 am (I am Night Owl--hoot hoot) and I hate being in the lunchroom (which I swear hasn't really been cleaned in decades) and I hate diaper duty (who doesn't?), there are a lot of things to love, namely, children.
I love the adorable faces that greet me every morning. I love their eagerness, their innocence, their willingness to learn. And I love teaching them. There are some teeth-grinding moments (Why can't they get this? We've practiced it fifty gazillion times!) but they're usually followed by moments of relief. It's a long and exhausting hike, but the view is worth it.
There are those moments of triumph, those moments where something finally gets through and all of the times you corrected "me" with "I" finally made her say, "Me... I mean, I did it." There are those moments that make us laugh, as we did when he told us he needed his "socks" to keep his hands warm, or she told us the gym smelled like "puppies being borned." There are those moments that are so sweet and beautiful that they make you cry, as I did when a dear little artist drew balloons with my favorite color to cheer me up.
And then there's another kind of crying.
It's been so, SO hard to stay positive. I've been so stressed over work that it doesn't stay at work anymore. It comes home with me every day. I can't work on the things I love; I hardly have the energy to type a stupid blog post. All I want to do all the time is sleep. I make it to the gym a couple of times a week, and I still go to my regular writing groups and game groups. I still get a few things done, but I don't feel like it's quality stuff.
And I'll show you why I feel this way.
Okay, so it's not the greatest picture ever. You can see how swollen it was, but the natural color of my arm tends to hide things like bruises. So let's mess with the color levels for a minute so you can see the size of it...
One week ago today I was bitten. Through my thick, furry jacket. And you know, it might be okay if this was the first time it's happened. But, of course... it isn't. This is the third time since school started again. Last year there was an incident that led to worker's comp (you may be able to see the scars on my hand and wrist, but my hair grew back to cover the damage to the back of my head, thankfully) and more importantly emotional trauma.
Sure, we've made major improvements since the beginning of last year. We don't have to restrain or use the seclusionary time-out booth nearly as often. But every day, every little thing is still a battle. And with my little sister now acting as a one-on-one assistant for this kid, I now watch my sister take a portion of the same abuse that I took. Slapping, pinching, scratching, pushing, kicking, spitting, choking. Ripped-out earrings. Smudged mascara. Boot prints and visible finger marks. And manipulating as much as possible, trying to get out of the consequences of a poor decision.
Dirty diapers I can handle, given gloves. But this--what's the solution for this? Wait until the kid becomes someone else's problem? I can't just shrug these marks off like gloves and throw them away. I'm stuck with them, some of them permanently. So when do you say enough is enough? How do you handle a job where you have to take this kind of abuse?
Truth is, I just... want to shelve books, write the stories in my head, draw my silly pictures, and sing my simple songs. I want to leave. But until I get that phone call, until someone gives me a better offer, I won't do it. I can't just drop everything and do nothing. I'm not that kind of person.
I just pray that the good things about work continue to outshine the bad. So far, God's been pretty good about answering. As long as there's such things as green balloons and ice cream, I suppose I'll be okay.
Okay... That sounds... okay.