“Think positive!” OK, but it’s really not in my nature.

18 01 2011

Well. It certainly is a lovely day. The forecast called for a “wintry mix,” and it was fulfilled. That sounds like a charming mix of hot cocoa, marshmallows, and being in the warm bosom of one’s family. It’s actually a potentially deadly mix of sleet, ice, and the wrath of God.

I also came in to three phone calls about one woman–her mental health services were being terminated due to an insurance issue, her baby’s father was bringing her to court to pursue full custody, and an ACS case had been called in for neglect.

While returning calls to four different sources, consoling a hysterical and terrified young mother, and trying to coordinate a home visit accommodating five different schedules, my latest intake showed up. Unannounced. With her hyperactive, nonverbal three year old. I was interrupted from that meeting to sign a declaration, stating that I understand that our agency prohibits falsifying records.

So…does that mean that up until now, I was permitted to falsify records? I could have written up a note, detailing a counseling session conducted on the back of a flying dragon?

This is what we refer to as, “one of those days.”

On days like this, it might help to hear about a true rarity: a social work success story.

I’ve been working with one young mother for about a year now. I’ve written about her, and her girls (a two and a four year old) extensively in the past.

This is because they’re awesome.

The case came to us because the mother had a history of domestic violence with the girls’ fathers. She left, went into a shelter, and needed some support.

We worked together over the course of the year, and she exemplified everything I love about young mothers.

Whenever her kids start displaying new, troublesome behaviors, her first instinct is to ask me–is this normal? Do kids their age do this?

A mother who checks child development first, and formulates a plan to address the problem second, is a rare and wonderful breed.

She, and her children, have grown so much over the past year. Mom has never hit the kids. She has mastered the timeout technique. “The girls crack me up, but I know I can’t laugh in front of them, or they’ll think it’s funny.”

What’s that you say? You enjoy your children, but recognize that there must be a boundary between them and you?

Not to mention that the kids are hilarious. The two year old attempts, on a daily basis, to ride the family’s Pomeranian around the living room. The four year old, recently annoyed at the lack of attention she was getting by sulking under a blanket, attempted to sidle down the hallway, all the while “hiding” under said blanket.

In the past year, I’ve seen the oldest go from a shy toddler who refused to say my name (hey, SocialJerk can be hard to pronounce) to an exuberant  little kid, who is excited to show me her books when I visit.

The two year old has developed an amazing sense of humor, and a serious love of food. I get to see her pretend to munch on a hamburger, and hear her mother say, “This is what you use your imagination for? Eating?” And then mouth to me, “What a fatty.” (Come on, it’s all said in love.)

I’m going to have to close this family’s case soon, but for a brief period of time, I get to visit a wonderful, loving mom, a constantly hungry (though well fed) hilarious two year old, and a bright, energetic four year old.

The girls are in pre-school and day care, and their mother is returning to college. She has no more contact with her abusive former partners. And in this case, I actually believe it! Mom has put distance between herself and her own abusive mother. She’s looking forward to getting her degree, and putting it to use.

Once in a while there’s a good story. And it’s enough to get us through fifteen bad ones.

Here’s hoping.

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13 responses

18 01 2011
lastcrazyhorn

awww! *squees* That’s so uplifting and I’m sorry about the rest of your lousy day.

18 01 2011
socialjerk

Thank you! Nice to hear…and it’s nice to be uplifting once in a while! 🙂

18 01 2011
SW24/7

It must be something in the air – we are also have awful weather and I am having “one of those days” as well. Thanks for reminding me to hang onto those few “successes” in the middle of the normal chaos. 🙂

18 01 2011
socialjerk

The weather just makes everything worse! I was almost wishing for a job where I’d be at a desk all day and not have to go out in the slush. But we do make up for it in the spring.

And you’re most welcome! I was writing as a reminder to myself as well, so I’m glad some other social workers needed it as well!

18 01 2011
Fos

How lovely! I love it when a plan comes together. 🙂

18 01 2011
socialjerk

It’s rare, but I want to shout it from the rooftops when it happens 🙂
Thanks!

19 01 2011
Carolyn

I’ve had “one of those days” two days in a row now. Gearing up for “one of those weeks”. So I was very, very thankful for your story which was a) funny and b) happy. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I shall now go storm the battlements of an underfunded health system, rampent racism that is exploding in my head and an apology phone call that made me feel worse that what she was apologizing for! (Eye rolling emoticon).

19 01 2011
socialjerk

I’m sorry to hear you’re having a rough week. The underfunded health systen and racism sound particularly unpleasant. And boo to poorly executed apologies!

But I’m glad you enjoyed the post! We definitely need to celebrate our victories in this profession. (Because we do have some!)

22 01 2011
Weekend Links 2 | Fighting Monsters

[…] Social Jerk has a positive story. […]

22 01 2011
Casdok

Lovely to hear 🙂

22 01 2011
socialjerk

Thank you!

23 01 2011
JenniferT

Thank you!!! I read you a couple of times a week, and you make me laugh, cry and cheer. I read a lot of mommy blogs and just general life blogs, and since I can’t read everyone, i have to be selective. You have made my “must read” list and I thank you for sharing these stories, good and bad, with us.

23 01 2011
socialjerk

Thank you so much! What a wonderful comment! I’m so glad other people can relate to and enjoy what I’m writing. Thanks for reading, and the support 🙂

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