There are plenty of days where I just don't want to talk or write about any of these issues any longer. There is a thin line between the cathartic relief this blog provides me with and the negative reinforcement of seamlessly dysfunctional lives and the ludicrously insane policies and initiatives that purport to act as a solution. In short, writing about these issues and recalling certain experiences frustrates me as much as it acts as a release valve. There will come a time when I will write no more on these issues. Just like the work itself, this blog will have a shelf life. In fact, all of the stories on this blog are written retrospectively so as to protect the confidentiality of those I work with. Any story that you read will have happened anywhere from two months ago to two years depending on how long ago it was posted of course. In fact, I have in the recent past stopped working in Residential Care Homes with 12-17 year olds and I am now solely working with 16-25 year olds within various Supported Housing projects through an agency. In the not too distant future I will also leave this sector. In one of my future posts I will outline the incident that was for me the final straw which led me to quit the residential care sector.
Meanwhile, back in the world of Supported Housing one can observe the goings on in the lives of many of our more dysfunctional members of society. Some weeks back I overheard one sixteen year old girl relating gossip to a friend regarding another teenage friend of their's:
"Did you know that Millie [another 16 year old] doesn't have a clue whether the baby is Jason's or Mike's and it's causing all kinds of hassle? Well, I told her to ring up ITV and they can get the baby Jeremy Kyled [to get a DNA test]."
For those of you unaware of the Jeremy Kyle Show on ITV in the morning, it is a vile programme where the descendants of pirates, fishwives and the rest of the lumpenproletariat slug it out over disputed paternity as well as other issues such as whether smoking crack is conducive to being a good role model for your children. Inspirational and life affirming TV it is not. I do find thought that about five minutes of it will fill you with a sense of gratitude that you are not living the lives of the participants. Any longer than that and you can hear your soul oozing out of your body so corrosive to the human spirit are it's contents.
A few weeks back I bumped in to one of the ex managers from a care home we both worked at as receptacles of abuse from the discarded offspring of the underclass. How I wish I could share with you that we relived tales of heartrendering transformations of disaffected, damaged and feral teenagers, but as I am sure you are aware by now that is a rarity thanks to a system that is useless and ineffective. Anyway, he reminisced with me about some of the idiotic dressing downs he got from his superiors for trying to impose standards as well as guide and direct the youngsters in the home he was managing.
"Well Winston, just before you were working with us Rachel (see the post Driving Miss Crazy) was getting ready to go to college one morning but she was very dirty and had on a t-shirt that was completely covered in food stains. As I was aware that this may bring her unwanted negative attention even bullying from her peers I told her she shouldn't go to college dressed as a homeless person. It might have been blunt but that's what she needed to hear as she was smelly and dirty. Anyway, instead of addressing the issue she telephoned head office and complained to my manager who then reprimanded me for my forthright advice, in that the language I used could have been viewed as oppressive or words to that effect. Then there was the time Rachel smashed up the wide screen TV in the lounge whilst having a tantrum because she couldn't get her way. I informed her that as a consequence I would not replace the TV for a month. Once again she phoned head office and complained and they telephoned me and ordered me to replace the TV immediately as it was Rachel's right to have one. [she had one in her bedroom anyway that she could have watched]. Like you used to say to me Winston, how does that system help Rachel if she never learns from her mistakes and the system fails to give her consequnces for negative and self-destructive behaviour?"
I think on that note I will leave it for today. It is sunny and I think I will do something life affirming for the rest of the afternoon instead of trailing through the tales of social detritus that are now woven in to my consciousness.