i have a question...

Friday, May 30, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. C

This has been a serious roller coaster of a couple weeks, for more reasons than I can possibly list or explain here.

But, even when I'm sad or confused or preoccupied, I get to interact with interesting and hilarious people every day. And end a very long week by eating cake and singing NSYNC. And that makes the time pass swiftly and I can laugh and feel better, if just for a moment.

12-year-old girl: Yoga is so refreshing. I feel so connected with Jesus.

Me: How did you decide who to go to prom with, from all your ladies?
18-year-old boy: They had to Rock Paper Scissors for it.

Colleague A, speaking generally about the scent of humans: You smell like person and I don't like it.

Me: I wanna put you in my pocket and take you home with me.
7-year-old boy: I want to do the same thing to you.

Me, upon seeing a copy of Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes: They can't read this book! There's sex and masturbation in it!
Colleague B: What do you think being a kid's all about?

12-year-old girl, to my colleague: I think I've grown sick of you...which is a good thing.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I don’t remember how, but at some point in the recent past, I acquired a Lululemon bag. One of those red and white ones with text all over it. I pack my lunch and dinner in it every day before work.

One of the sentences on it is that pervasive quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

"Do one thing a day that scares you."

I’m bad at this.

I like to stay squarely in my comfort zone and have a hard time doing new things.

And yet.

My job is kinda scary.

I work with the kind of kids that people avoid on the street. Because they’re loud or aggressive and seemingly have nowhere to go. They gather in groups and take up a lot of space and have the hard exteriors of kids who are growing up in a city.

But they come to where I work, to be in a band or a play or to get a job or play basketball. To feel safe and part of a community and to be seen and heard and included.

At work, I walk into large groups of tall young men every day and tell them all to take their hats off and find a program area to go to.

That used to scare me. But only a little.

I am sometimes in charge of the whole three-story building, staff members looking to me for directions on what to do next. I shuffle everyone out, make sure they’re all getting home safe, and arm the door at the end of the night.

When I think about that too much, it scares me.

So I don’t.

Yesterday, one of my mentees, a 15 year old whom I’ve known since she was 12, got into a terrible confrontation with a teacher at her school.

So this morning, I showed up at her suspension hearing.

I have never been to one of those before. And I didn’t know what to expect.

And I sat with the school facilitator and with my mentee’s mom and with my mentee while I heard the whole story and she cried and shook and swore. I put my hand on her knee and trusted my instincts and my skills to calm her down, and I made her promise to follow through with a short-term plan, and I urged her to thank the administrator and I asserted to her that she had an army of people who supported her, and when she calmed down and even laughed as we ended the meeting, and when she showed up at work to practice piano and we chatted and laughed about when we first met, I hoped and wished that my words and support had poked through her steely, defensive fa├žade.

It was kind of a scary day.

The amazing thing was, I wasn’t scared. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCIX

Two of our biggest special arts events are now completed: last week, it was the Exhibit Opening of the Special Artist Project that the kids participate in at the MFA, tonight, 12 members in our band performed at the Strand Theatre as part of the annual Music Clubhouse Showcase.

I am relieved and proud that they are both successfully over! Now, we coast til the end of the school year!

Me, to an 11 year old boy, during Homework Hour: Come sit with me!
11 year old: I demand respect because it's Cinco de Mayo!

Kid on the bus, to a 10 year old boy: Did you fart?
10 year old: I almost did, but it was a false alarm.

8 year old, to his friends: You know the Muppets? You know Kirby*? The actor that did the voice died.
Friend: He got shot?
*He meant Kermit.

Me, to an 8 year old girl: I need a snack.
8 year old: I have a hamburger.

8 year old girl, to Colleague A (male): You are such a girly girl.
Colleague A: I'm a manly girl.
8 year old: With furry pits.

Me, to an 8 year old boy, helping in the art room: Was this your idea?
8 year old: No.
Me: Whose was it?
8 year old: Mine.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. XCVIII

This was my first normal week back at the grind, after my week off and April vacation last week.

I have a couple weeks of special events ahead and then we'll zoom through til the end of the year.


Me, to 7-year-old girl: You're so cute. What if I ate your face?
Girl: What if I chopped off your head?

Teen girl, to her boyfriend: What are you gonna do to piss me off?
Me, to her boyfriend: You're already planning on pissing her off?
Boyfriend: That's because she is! It's called EQUALITY!

Me: I'm obsessed with these new keyboards.
Colleague: I know. They're so soft. It's like they have mad lotion on.

Me, to 7-year-old girl: Where is your family from?
Girl: Dominican Republic.
Me: But you were born here?
Girl: Yep.
Me, to 10-year-old boy: Where is your family from?
Boy: Is that any of your business?!