Wednesday, September 7

10 Reasons Not to be a Child & Family Therapist

A self explanatory list.  I write this from one year in.  Five years from now, who knows what crazy things I will have learned that I hadn't experienced yet and didn't make it to this list.  From poop to getting called every name in the book and 'roid rages . . . some days, are bad days.  Say what you will about a noble, people oriented profession, but poop is still poop, no matter your job.  Don't get me wrong, helping people is great and I truly love my job . . . but there are some downsides.  Countdown, after the jump.
10.  Some people use steroids, some of them will be clients or caregivers of your clients--  Roid rages are real.  Roid rages are ridiculous and terrifying.  They will happen in your office.  And that is why you always put yourself between your client and the door.

9.  Favorite games are beaten to death over and over again--  I have had days were I've played Sorry! seven or eight times.  I am an Uno master.  Othello is now work instead of a game.  How amazing is The Game of Life: Pirates of the Caribbean edition?  It's awesome!!!!  But the magic fades after dozens of plays or two of three plays in a day.  Plus, get ready for the guilt when you beat some little kid . . . it's not a real big ego boost and if you let them win . . . it's not much better.

8.  Children are shocking and have no filter-- Arguably this could also be a perk.  But the things that fly out of those kids' mouths.  A sampling: "My Dad killed our cat last night when he accidentally slammed its head in the door."  "While you saw my sister my dad and me went home.  I did my homework.  He went poop."  Me: Do you have any access to weapons in your home?  Client: We have an antique sword collection, but those are valuable, I would never use them for wrong.  "Did you know that humans have colonized mars?  There are people living up there right now, really."  "Did you know boys have penises and girls have super small penises '?"  "OH MY GOSH I LOVE MCDONALDS I THINK I WILL DIE TODAY."  "My sister ate our cat.  Well, just a piece of its ear when she was angry."  "I smoked this stuff this weekend . . . it was NUTS.  It fucked me up.  It was scary cause I got lost in the woods.  I loved it.  I can't wait to do it again, but next time when I'm drinking.  Why does pot make you so damn hungry?!"  "Are you made of chicken nuggets?"

7.  Families work and kids go to school--  I understand that families have jobs.  I understand that those jobs are even more important and less forgiving for many of my families who are low-income homes.  I do.  I know it's important.  Therapy is usually pretty important, too.  I see more than 40 kids and if you count 3pm appointments as "after school" (and I'm no saying you do, because some schools in the area don't finish until 3 or 3.15 and 3pm appointments just aren't acceptable), I have 14 after school appointments available.  I do my best to work with families but I still get yelled at about how so and so just can't miss school but needs weekly therapy.  I'm sorry, but that's how it works out and please give me a break, sometimes I'm at work from 8am to 8pm and I'm not going to make it a 13 hour day.

6.  Paperwork and insurance crap-- You know . . . you know.

5. Really terrible games for kids--  There are games that kids love and I can't stand.  The game companies are geniuses because my kids love games like Ned's Head, Mr. Mouth, and Don't Spill the Beans.  I hate them.  I hate them so, so much.  Really?  You want me to pull a dirty diaper out of a giant felt nose?  What is gained from this activity?  It certainly isn't self-worth, dignity, or an appetite.  Also, if an adult finds a game too challenging (I'm looking at you, Poppa's Pizza Pile-up) it's unlikely that the child will find it interesting if they fail every 10 seconds.

4.  Behavior problems--  I didn't want to be a therapist to suffer through temper tantrums, but the reality is that kids end up in therapy because of behavior problems.  The cream of the crop for temper tantrums are who show up in the office.  The screamers, the punchers, the kickers, the 5, 6, 7, and 8 year olds who say 'fuck off', the wailers, the whiners, the pouters, the cheaters, the escapees, the defiants . . . all end up in my office and usually they are doing one of the aforementioned things when I see them.  They are the kings and queens of their castles; ruling and running their own lives however they best see fit.  Parents, siblings, and sometimes teachers walk on eggshells in an attempt to keep the peace.  Kids see right through me, they see me as the enemy and know I'm there to throw a monkey-wrench in their shenanigans and why on earth would they want to abide by the rules of polite society, when they can do whatever. they. want.

3.  You listen to other people's problems all day-- I actually typically like that part of the job, because I love the stories that people share.  But you have to listen to deep shit.  You can't walk away from a story about incest, murder, or kidnapping.  You are the most important person to hear that story and when you get two of three of those stories in a row, it is taxing and you might still have 3 or 4 more hours of clients.

2.  Desensitization to boogers--  I have a weak stomach, I always have.  I make the husby clean up cat vomit.  I'm a sympathy puker.  I get sick on ferris wheels.  It makes me gag when babies bubble, dribble, drool, and spit.  As a child, I once threw up when my own mother blew her nose.  I'm weak, I know it.  Sometimes I am extremely distracted when a kiddo has a great, green discoball in their nostril and spend the whole session gazing it, wondering how it continues to defy physics and gravity.  Amazingly, I recently had a particularly snotty rascal in my office and after they left I found a giant (we're talking penny sized) green, unctuous, vibrating (ok, that may have just been my eyes rolling back in my head) boogie on the arm of my chair and I just wiped it up with a tissue all by myself.  It was mind blowing.  I astonished myself, realized I was disgusted with myself, and then immediately Lysoled the whole office.

1.  People will poop in your office and pee on your chairs-- And let's be honest here, while typically the kids don't outright pull down their pants and poop on the floor . . . they aren't just feral animals either.  We're talking about human waste.  Once a small tot was standing in the middle (thank god) of my office and he stuck his hand down the back of his pants and pulled it out brown.  He frowned and reached for my door handle to make a break for the bathroom, with the offending hand.  Blessedly, his mom stopped him and escorted him down the hall where they wrapped his underwear in paper towels, finished the session with me (the vision of the moisture seeping through the delicate, white paper towels still haunts me), and headed home.  I don't have kids.  The maternal and paternal drive that allows caregivers to do this kind of thing blows my mind out of the universe and across the time space continuum.  A colleague of mine had a child sitting in one of her office chairs and suddenly the girl stood up, revealing a large damp pool on the chair.  The chair was taken to the conference room where facilities was supposedly going to take it away.  But the chair sat there for weeks with a 'Broken' sign on it (answering the age old question of how to break a chair like this: pee on it) and the the sign was gone . . . was the chair gone?  We may never know, there are identical chairs in the conference room and all over the building.  A pretty common question at meetings is, "Is this the pee chair . . .?"  Then, after an uncomfortable silence and soundless scan of the already occupied seats, someone restlessly sits down with a bleak, laconic facial expression for the rest of the meeting.