Friday, February 03, 2006

regarding beautiful welfare

i learned (at least) five things tonight while working at the group home -->

regarding clients:
one, is that talking loud when you are trying to reason with someone just scares people.

two; that when restricting someones activities, you must always explain that it is the consequence of irresponsible behavior.

three; especially when you talk to teens that have been removed from their chaotic homes, talking loud and not explaining consequences will just cause them to say, "don't talk to me like i am a child. you are NOT my momma." and they will stop talking to you for the rest of your shift. and they will be totally justified in saying and doing so.

regarding supervisors:
four; i will often say no to something if it is not in my job description.

regarding myself:
five; that i can make mistakes and not be a horrible person. or, rather, just because i am learning, doesn't have to mean i have no clue. and always, always, apologies when you have treated someone unfairly. and that's what i plan on doing when i see this client again.

i also walked a (altogether not the same as above) client through reading a sentance today. a 16 year old kid. one solitary american english sentence. and no, english is not his second language; he comes from an environment when spanish and english are spoken simultaniously. and he hasen't been in school in over a year. and when he was, he was in the inadequate understaffed and underfunded Philly school system.
the amount of frustration that you can see drip off of someone who can not read is amazing. and the amount of fantasic coping strategies folks use to navigate through the world without emphasizing language is amazing, and really quite genius. but it seems so hard to advocate for yourself. and it appears difficult to understand your rights. and you always have to depend on others.
so tonight, when i was going over the resident handbook with a new client that i knew had a difficult time reading -- after he told me "i can't read. i mean, i can read. just not good. and this ain't gonna work, me trin' to read this" -- i explained everything to him. and he was zoning out, and asking questions, and trying to look at the booklet as i was reading sentences, me trying to explain their meaning so he could comprehend it. and finally, when we got to the end, there is this part when the client has to sign, and it goes something like this: "I, ____________, have read, understand and was able to ask questions about the policies and procedures contained in this handbook." and we read the sentence together. and we sounded things out. and we broke words a part. and we read it once. and then we read it again. and when he saw that i was not getting frustrated at his frustration, we read it a third time. and then he read it himself. the whole fucking sentence. all by himself.

and i thanked him for sharing with me. and i praised him for getting through it and succeeding.

and he said, sheepishly, "sure. no problem. maybe we can talk about the GREs sometime......" and got up from the table and went to do his evening chore.

that, my dears, is what i can wrap my self around. this is beautiful welfare. and i am humbled.


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