Quittin Time

I almost quit volunteering at the Kiss ‘n Go. I may still. I’ve had a large amount of stress lately: puppies; a house that looks like a tidal wave of dirt attacked; a friend who’s parent treat her like a child, yet expect her to be an adult, all the while taking advantage of the free babysitting to run off and ignore their children; the loss of two of the doctors I respect… It goes on. Quite a lot of stress. Lots of anger at the things I can’t change.

So why should I put myself in a position where I get yelled at? Why try to help people that don’t know they need it? Am I likely to take all that anger, and unleash it on some mom, who in trying to get her kids to school, acts the fool? Hell yes, I am almost at that point.

I gave a kid a $20,000 tip today. It cost me $20K to learn. You don’t hit first. He’s learning it as a young man, when I had to learn it as an adult. Never hit first. Walk away. No matter the cost, it’s not as high, than if you don’t. So maybe I need to walk away.

He and his mom popped over for a visit. She needed to vent. She needed understanding. She needed someone to listen and care. When I told her that I was going to quit, she said that she was glad that I hadn’t, and gave me her reasons.

No matter how stupid those parents are, their kids are worth it. Every time we drag one out of the way, get them to the curb safely, is a moment that can’t be paid for. It costs me nothing, when it could cost that child so much more. And these people think I’m stupid? Yes, I yell. I am normally soft spoken. But you come into our parking lot with your radio blaring so loud your kids are deaf for the first few minutes of class, or you are too busy talking on your phone, instead of paying attention; I’m gonna yell. I want you to see me. See the kids you aren’t watching for. See the momma with her baby trying to make it back to her car. This little girl from Texas is going to yell.

Now there are times I don’t yell. When I’m at your window telling you why, yes why, I want you to let those kids wait for you to pass, I won’t yell. I speak monotone, flat, reciting the facts of the situation. In that case, when I’m 4 feet away from you, there’s no need. If you yell at me, I walk away. You call the principal because you feel wronged, I don’t give a shit or a shoe. If I’m wrong, she’ll let me know. Don’t expect an apology. I don’t get paid enough to listen to you or apologize to you for your misbehavior. We’re on a military installation, I want to hear “yes ma’am”.

We ask our kids to wait a moment, to be patient, when we have things that we are doing. When it comes time for us to wait our turn, do we show them what we want them to learn, or act like or worse than them? Every moment is a teaching moment. Every hug, kiss and curse word.

I love helping the little ones out. Complimenting dresses, shoes, hair bows, rad shirts (if you’re young, rad is a term for awesome). Helping sleepy Isaiah out of the car, so that his pregnant momma doesn’t have to get out. Turning him towards class, because he’s still asleep. Chasing down a kid with his lunch money, that his mom forgot to give him. Catching water bottles, trash and book reports as they spill out. Putting a bandaid on a squashed finger, because I wasn’t there, and sissy slammed the door too early. Getting the book bag out of the trunk everyday, because it doesn’t fit up front. These are the bennies of the job. Making kids and parents smile. The gods know, dad is deployed, or mom has to work a second job, or the other three kids can’t walk too far. They are all stories I know for myself, and I know that those kids have them.

So what do I do? Do I quit because I might lose it? Or do I stay, because in some small way, I fill a need? And if I quit, is someone going to get hurt? It wouldn’t be my fault. If some parent, angry at how long drop off takes, can’t control their anger, and hits a kid? Not my fault either. How far does the social contract go? What angels and demons will haunt me, for stepping back. Everyone is replaceable, but would someone step up and replace me? I could hope so.