I work in assessments. I sit across from people at their kitchen tables and we talk for hours about their backgrounds, their childhood and the events in their lives, both positive and negative that made them who they are. I ask them questions about their goals in life and their successes. What they are proud of. Relationships that went wrong and what they learned from those relationships. I rate their readiness to care for children in the foster care system. I work in assessments. I have assessed an elderly man or woman’s ability to care for themselves and what services they need. I assessed their physical and mental condition and rated their “risk level.”
I have been caught off guard by some of the things I have heard during these assessments and all, but just a few, have been pleasant surprises.
Me: Katie, can I call you Katie? Do you ever have feelings of depression or anxiety? Any thoughts in your head that make it difficult to make decisions?
Katie: No, no, I wouldn’t do that to myself! There’s no time for that.
I so enjoyed my warm summer morning, sitting and talking with Katie. She had experienced such great loss and continued to take ownership of her thoughts. “I wouldn’t do that to myself,” she said when I asked her about getting depressed. “There’s no time for that.” Oh what I “do to myself” on a daily basis. Little does Katie know that I MAKE time for that in my life. I carve out time to be self-critical. I walk pass the mirror on purpose on days when I feel fat and try to wish away my healthy curves. My self-assessment is not looking great when it’s held up to Ms. Katie’s. My risk level is high.
Then there’s John. John was diagnosed with a disease at a very young age that has now robbed him of the use of his legs and restricted the use of his arms. He is able to communicate, but with great difficulty.
Me: I am going to ask you a few questions about assistive devices. I will be asking if you have each of these devices, if you need these devices or if you want these devices. John, would you be interested in any canes or walkers?
John: (with a chuckle) I can’t walk, why would I have use for a cane?!
Me: I think you might be laughing at me! Are you laughing at me John?!
John: (a nod with a smile on his face and a continuing chuckle)
I walked away from an assessment with John feeling better about myself because he made me laugh throughout the entire visit. He reported that he was pregnant at one point and I told him that he was a medical miracle and that I wanted a cut of the profits. John made the comment about being ready to go when it was his time. “I’m ready, because God knows when it is my time.” My readiness level is not as high as John’s. Not even close. I have not embraced my life in its imperfection and faced the day with a smile on my face. What a disservice I am doing to people like John.
I have met with potential foster/adoptive parents that are eager to get their home study approved so they can put their desires on hold and give of their free time to care for a child that is not their own. They sign up to be disappointed and have their hearts broken in certain cases. I am selfish with my time and I hoard it to do what? Watch 80’s movies?! Is this really the best use of my time?
I work in assessments and according to my professional opinion; I have a lot of work to do.