Saturday, April 16, 2011

A timely deposit

I begin by whining.

With the new legislation in Ontario mandating that all people with intellectual disabilities be provided abuse prevention training, I've been busy. Well, all of Vita's abuse prevention team has been busy, but ... this is about me. We are all travelling a lot and doing training after training after training. Don't get me wrong, it's a real honour to be doing train the trainer sessions, it's a privilege to be part of the solution to the problem of abuse. It truly is and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've spoken to Vita's other trainers and we all agree.


Back to whining.

The 'but' here is that it's like life has become about 'abuse' and 'abuse prevention' twenty four seven. While we are working on solutions, on PREVENTION, the topic is still an ugly one. It's about people misusing power, people betraying trust, people hurting people. You can't teach the 'how' of 'no' without the 'why' of 'no'. And sometimes, just sometimes, I get worn down and dispirited. I begin to notice my energy flag and my enthusiasm dim. This is a kind of selfishness and self centeredness that I am a bit ashamed of - however I am human and sorrow and hurt affect me.

Today, though, we drove into Ottawa where I will be training several agencies in abuse prevention. In doing so 60 people with disabilities and just over 30 staff will be trained. It's a big job. I'm looking forward to it, because, beside the work ... Ottawa means family. We had already arranged for us all to get together for breakfast on Saturday and spend the day together. On our way to the hotel we stopped off to see Mike, Marissa, Ruby and Sadie for a few seconds. We had things in the trunk to drop off.

I sat in the car and watched them all come down the ramp. Ruby came down dancing. She was so excited. Normally she goes right to the truck to see what wonders lay within but this time she came over and climbed in the drivers seat and said that she wanted to pretend to drive the car. She did this for a second and then leaned back and started chatting with me. She brought me up to date on school, her friends and her teachers. We played silly games and laughed a lot. I kept asking if she was sure she didn't want to go and see what was in the trunk, 'No, I'll stay here,' she said.

So they took everything up stairs and Ruby, again, stayed in the car with me. We made a toy out of a hanger and wrestled for it and hit each other with it (gently and in fun of course). Ruby laughed her big laugh, the one that consumes her as she tricked me time and again. When her 'ninja reflexes' as she calls them, avoided my attempts to get her. The game wound down and she sat again and talked.

When her mom and dad and Joe came back downstairs, she knew it was time for her to go upstairs and for us to go to the hotel. I told her, seriously, that I really enjoyed her getting in the car and having time to talk with her. She smiled and then gave me a big hug, 'I like it when you come to visit,' she said. I told her I did too. She asked me why, I told her it was because I missed her and her family and it did my heart good to see them and be with them. She thought about it a second and then gave me another hug. I laughed and said 'What's that for?' She said, 'In case your heart needs it sometime and I'm not there.'

We drove into the hotel and I found myself feeling much different about the days to come, the weeks to come. I know that when I get tired, when I get a little despairing that I've got an extra hug stored up - for when I need it.

And you know what?

It's enough.


I am tremendously proud of niece Shannon's writing. Her gift is substantial. When she was a wee girl I helped her get a poem published in the newspaper and I've been a fan ever after. She has written a blog post that I thought managed to be very, very funny and yet still have something (or indeed many things) to say. If you've a mind to and the time to ... drop over and visit Half Soled Boots. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

That extra Ruby hug for later just in case you need it - that would go a long way to restoring one's soul.

I can see how teaching about abuse so intensely could get you down. I am so grateful that you do this training Dave. When abuse is the normal life experience of people with intellectual disabilities then we know the situation is desperate.


Noisyworld said...

I could do with one of those hugs today, I came off second best in an unfair fight against a fire alarm yesterday :(

Ruby always makes me smile, as she obviously does you. Just what you need as your job is such hard work, not just physically (the travelling) but also mentally and emotionally: never underestimate the need to recover in that way too :)

theknapper said...

Thanks for sharing a Ruby story with us...I love her spirit and her relatioinship with you and Joe.

Kristin said...

Ruby is an incredible little girl. And, I can completely understand needing to be recharged when dealing with the topic of abuse.

You know, when search dogs are searching the sites of tragedies and finding bodies, they periodically have to get a live person to hide and let the dogs find them or the dogs get so depressed that they can't work. We have the same needs for an emotional boost when dealing with sad topics. Don't think of yourself as being selfish. You are simply experiencing a normal human need.

Also, I gave you an award on my blog.

kitten said...

my son doesnt live with me, he lives with his dad, my ex husband. we agreed this would be the best for a high school aged kid, almost 3 years ago. we're several states apart.

we talk once a week or more, but ALWAYS once a week. and when he visits (in winter and summer), he gives me lots of hugs, so that i always have some saved up.

your Ruby is a very smart little girl. i'm glad she's in your life.

*another hug* just in case you need another one. :)

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shan said...

The deleted comment was mine, sorry - someone else was logged on to this computer and I didn't notice.

I wondered why I had eight more comments than I was expecting, and this is why! Thanks for the mention, Dave.


Nan said...

I was just talking about this kind of burnout with someone who works in a children's hopspital ... apparently there is a special names . . . compassion fatigue.We would need lots of Rubys to deal with compassions fatigue! I was also thinking about you giving workshops to 30 staff and 60 people with disabilities ... and I always wonder about those who aren't served by agencies and therefore fall outside this circle of support. Interesting. Mostly jealousy on my part I think. For my daughter who, as she transitions, has made choices about being mostly in the community in so-called typical environments ... but that puts us/her away from certain supports/education that she would probably benefit from. Ah! Ottawa. Too few resources, or too many that don't fit individualized dreams! Hugs Dave! "And we are put on earth a little space, to learn to bear the beams of love." William Blake. And Ruby is one of those! (beams of love)

Cindy B. said...

When I was a teenager, my dad owned a convertible - a 1969 Cutlass S Supreme in Aztec Gold - can you tell it made an impact on me :)

Anyway, during the summer when the top was down, we would always grab handfulls of sunshine so we would have them during the long Montreal winters. Sort of like Ruby's hugs - you always need to have some as a backup.

Susan said...

Well, that story did my heart good!

Anonymous said...

Wow. And who couldn't use a spare hug in their back pocket for when it's needed? A wise child, that Ruby.