Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The operation is still in effect.  However, the execution of the plan has been lacking.  I had a stretch in September when I managed not to volunteer at all.  I was having trouble getting motivated to do much of anything.  But I have since started up again.

I now know just a handful of the staff names and they recognize me when I come.  I know Miss J, Miss L, Miss J and tonight I met Miss P.  I would bet they don't know my name. (If only a certain someone would send me my fabulous name tag - hint, hint!) 

It's funny that I seem to have the ability to learn and remember the names of the children very quickly.  By the end of each night I usually know 5-10 new names.  I do try to pay attention whenever I hear one of the staff use a child's name.  It is extremely helpful in getting the attention of a 2 to 6-year-old when you know their name.  "Hey, kid!" doesn't work so well.  Tonight there was L, L, A, I, P, and A.   I didn't get the names of three others.  But I'm not Rainman.  It is all short term memory.  I might remember one or two names if they still happen to be there the following week.  But more often than not, I need to be reminded.

I admit I have to work a little harder to remember the staff names.   And clearly, I need to ask more often.  I had a nice conversation a week ago with one of the women about how much I regret not taking Spanish in high school. (Stupid, useless French classes.  Monsieur Lawrence, je regrette tout!)   One of the young boys didn't understand anything I said, but this woman was bilingual and could communicate with him.  She encouraged me to learn. Said it's not too late. She's right.  We had a good chat.  But I didn't ask her name! 

Besides the four staff names that I do know, there are two women and one man who have been there frequently.  I should know their names by now, but I don't.  We are at that odd point where we have seen each other many times and we recognize each other, so it now seems awkward to ask them what their names are.  But awkward schmawkward - I just need to do it.  That will be my next mission.  Learn the names of any staff member who is working while I am there and introduce myself to them.

I also need to work on my friendly chatting skills. I am just not very talkative normally and it is not my natural inclination to start conversations with people.  I can do it and I am genuinely a pleasant person.  But it doesn't come naturally to me. So each time I go I have to remind myself to be more gregarious than my comfort level usually allows. I sometimes try to pump myself up by smiling maniacally while driving there from work. You should try it sometime. Force your face into an exaggerated grin showing as many teeth as possible and hold it there for a while. I probably look crazy but it helps me to feel goofy and loosens me up a little.

Schmawkward.  I just liked that word after I wrote it, so I used it as the title of this post.  It sounds like it should be the name of a German chicken in a children's book.  Schmawkward von Cluckenstuffer.  He gets into all sorts of mischief because he has a touch of Asperger's and has trouble relating to the other barnyard animals.

Poor Schmawkward.

This is actually a "Vintage 70s RIDICULOUS EGG HEAD Plastic Necklace Pack of 3" on sale at Etsy. 

It could be Schmawkward, though.


Wanda said...

Smiling even when alone is a good thing to do. Being new to your blog, I had to read your Operation Enthusiastic Cupcake post. You do have a positive approach to things. I enjoy your writing.

Ms. Moon said...

I love Schmawkward, the word AND the chicken.
Why is human interaction so damn hard when it's like all we do? Well, some of us. Some of us find it so hard we hide at home. I commend you for going out and volunteering and not being afraid of being schmawkward.

Bethany said...

I second what Ms Moon said. Schmawkward made me laugh, esp the pic in the end. You need to buy it for yourself and hang it on your name tag that I promised to make you a year okay (oops sorry).
Are you home yet?

swallowtail said...

Yes. You need the little hatchling. And what a nice word, schmawkward. Yes, I may steal that one ;-)

Now, about names: it is difficult for some to remember (theirs, mine, whatever). Few people in our culture know how to listen, so therefore there is no thing to recall... like a name. I am a long-time masseuse, and have had many hilarious experiences of "forgetting" someone's name...about 15 years ago I was in our health food store, and ran into a very familiar face at the 'fridge. I said hi, as did she, and then I struck up a friendly, teasing conversation, even telling her it was time she came in for her massage.... Turns out, she was not my client, but Bonnie Rait. Everyone else in the store was star-struck and floored, but me(hummmDEdummmm).

Soo, slap on a name tag and just have some fun! Mess up! That's even more fun, then you get to say... "Oh nuts! remind me again!" with your gorgeous smile, because, it really is kinda funny!

You are awesome.

Bobby said...

I must agree about the whole learning French thing...stupid decision on my part as well. As far a smiling for no aparent reason. I was just talking about this today at work oddly enough. Was saying how i can't pull off the smiling for no reason thing. Someone at work said to me.."you don't look happy." And i replied.."I'm not unhappy."

I guess i could try it a little more. but you're right about having to come out of your comfort zone to do it.

grasshopper said...

Wanda - thank you!

Ms. Moon - I knew you'd like the chicken part. I found another funky chicken thing in my search for chicken pictures and I'll post it another time.

Beth - I did buy it!

Swallowtail - That is a great story about Bonnie Rait. And you are right about how we (don't) listen.

Bobby - you should try the smiling thing...smile like a madman on your way to work. Or, even better, walk on to the job with a huge grin on your face and then don't tell anyone else what you are smiling about. Do it for a full week. See how everyone else reacts.