Many many people wonder what in the world I do at the Nut Hut. So I decide to pen (type) a blog, which explains to the best of my ability how I spend my nights.
10:00 PM my alarm goes off..Most people are putting on their PJs. I am taking my hello kitty PJs off and stepping into the shower. Most people are brushing their teeth and so am I. Most people are applying lotion to their bodies, as am I, yet I add perfume, which is heavily scented with lavender, as it is a soothing scent. I pull my hair into a ponytail and scan through my collection of sweats and silly tee shirts deciding what to wear to work.
10:15 Feed Puppykins and scratch his warm little belly. Take him out, rush him though the process of relieving himself. Come in, put him in his cage and pull out of my garage.
10:25 drive to work blasting whatever I am in the mood to listen to on my iPod. The streets are practically vacant. Most people are watching the Late Show or the news in bed winding down for the night. I am mentally getting hyped up because I will be ON for the next 8.5 hours.
10:45 pull into the parking lot and access how my shift is going to go according to the cars in the lot. Continue to sit in my car listening to a pep talk from Anne, which usually ends with “ you can do ittttttt”. Finally drag my old carcass out of the car and make the long trek into one of the units.
10:50 or so.. Unlock one of many doors, lock the door, swipe my badge, unlock another door, lock the door, walk to the nurse’s station and set down my bag. Look at the schedule to see whom I am working with which will solidify my attitude for the evening.
11:00 Walk the unit and check in with the 22 kids I will be responsible for the next 8.5 hours. 2 kids per room. 11 rooms to check. Lock bathrooms. Do assessments of the kids who are awake.
11:20 Sit through the shift report, which tells me everything each kid has done since I left at 7:08 that morning. Loooooong report. Usually boring, unless a restraint or fight has occurred. Sometimes funny. Sometimes sad. Try to stay focused on what the nurse is telling me although I will spend the next 4 hours reading it again for myself.
11:45 Make a fresh pot of coffee.. Nothing fancy. Folgers. The company provides it. No sugar. No cream. Black.. I need it. Need to keep the energy up.
11:47 Assist in breaking up a fight. Over an iPod. Great. My paperwork is going to have to wait. One kid has to be restrained. No.. Take that back.. 4 kids have to be restrained and sent to different quiet rooms.
11:50 I am escorting a kid damn near shackled to another unit to be secluded. MORE paperwork and I haven’t started the regular paperwork yet. Um.. OKKKK..
11:55 the walk to the other unit was creepy. It is dark as a black cat’s ass out here. Saw a bunny.. Luckily I am with 3 other people. If animals attack I will be safe. Well.. One is shackled. So make that 2 other people to fend off danger.
12:01 check the kid into another unit’s seclusion room. The staff is edgy. If something big goes down, there won’t be a place to send their kids. Crossing my fingers that nothing happens. Sit around the nurses’ station listing to hilarious stories of what the kids on this unit have been up to.
1. Kid shaved paint of the walls and chopped it up to look like cocaine. Traded it with other kids for snacks. They found out it was paint and beat him up. He is in so much danger he was moved to another unit for his safety. Kids are being shuffled around tonight like musical chairs.
2. Kid rubbed feces on his roommate’s clothes. No beat down delivered.
3. Staff member was fired for giving kids smokes.. What a dumbass.
4. Someone has a crush on me. Won’t approach me because I come off as a snobby bitch. (I am an icy bitch) How can you have a crush on someone you are basically afraid of? Makes no sense. He is put in the dumbass category.
5. 2 kids went AWOL.. One ran over to the Kroger and sat in the beer cooler drinking for 45 minutes before he was “discovered”. When he got back to the campus, he was beyond intoxicated. He is the current local hero.
12:45 I’m having so much fun gossiping I forget I am actually here to work. Bid the staff a goodnight and return to my unit sans escort. I am literally running in the dark back to my unit, as this place is the wilderness. I have heard of snakes and raccoons attacking people. They even found a baby alligator once. I’m sure I just way a bat. Run faster. Make it back to the safety of the unit.. If you can call it safe. The crisis has long been neutralized. Back to normal. Is anything normal here?
12:50 discover my coffee is cold. Discover people drank the entire pot and didn’t make a new one. Discover the pot is burned at the bottom. I will have to clean the pit AND make fresh coffee.. Bastards!
12:55 Intercept a note one client (male) was trying to get to another client (female) it was not only HILARIOUS but also disturbingly explicit. I am convinced if given the chance he will make good on all the promises misspelled in said missive. After all. He as 3 kids and in only 16. Made a note of the note and filed it. I love the client’s contraband notes. Tee hee hee!
1:10 Beautiful coffee in a beautiful hello kitty mug. Bliss. Listening to Dave Matthews on my iPod Touch. Trying to drown out the sound of the kid in seclusion kicking the steel door. Thud thud thud.. Hate that noise. Make a round on the unit to see who is sleep or if anyone needs my help. Luckily everyone is relatively ok. Start on my regular paperwork.
3:38 finally finish my paperwork. I have signed my initials 792 times. I have signed my full name 50 times. Written assessments on 22 kids. Hand written assessments! I am ready for a mini-break. OH NO! I totally forgot the kids on other units, which need to be checked on. Call the nurses on other units to get the scoop. They laugh. I must have sounded panicked. Kids are back on my unit in their beds. I come out of my office. Hate being alone. But the ghost hasn’t shown up in a long while. I am lulled into a false sense of security. Make another round of the unit. Park myself at the nurses’ station for more gossip. Nothing interesting going on.. blah blah blah.. I am actually on twitter. Very interesting things being tweeted about. Happy.
4:00 still at the nurses’ station gossiping. Found a People’s magazine. Debating on painting my nails.. Decide to have a snack instead. Fresh coffee.. Yess!
4:15 Went to the kitchen. Checked the snack cabinet. It is bare like Old Mother Hubbard. Damn! No snacks. Check the fridge. Food from the cafeteria is unrecognizable. Not gonna eat that . Check the freezer. Snake Eyes. I am rumbly in my tumbly. Oh well.. I will just drink coffee.
4:30 walk the unit.. Client is up.. Nightmares. Can understand. Kid is from LA. Had a hard life. Saw things I don’t ever want to see. Comfort kid. Wonder if he took his meds. Settle him in. Another kid is up. Upset about some girlfriend cheating on him. How can she cheat when she is on an all girls’ unit I wonder? Lots of same sex action going on here. It reminds me of jail. Remind client to focus on self rather than relationship with girl. Women are trouble. Actually men are trouble, but decide against going into anything too deep. Leave the room and hear someone call my name. At first think it is that damn ghost. Luckily it is a client who heard my voice and wanted to talk. (This night just picked up in a way I didn’t want it to) Go to client’s room and stand at the door. He is known to SAO (sexually act out). Don’t trust this kid. Simple request. Food. Easily solved. There isn’t any. Go to sleep. Cross fingers that power struggle won’t ensue. Unfortunately it does. Sorta. Calls me a liar. I try to be as therapeutic as possible. Not fond of being challenged. Kid gets out of bed and approaches me. I back up. Girlfriend problem kid warns other one to leave me alone as I am one of the cool ones. I’m thinking a fight may start. Lovely. Fighting is reserved for day shift in my opinion. Male staff hears the argument and rushes down the hallway. Guys work for the jail system during the day. No problem rumbling with the kids. I secretly think they enjoy it. I KNOW they do. Kids see them.. Decide against getting tuned up. Both return to their beds. Male staff commented he was sad he didn’t get another “taste” tonight. I lock arms with him and walk back to the nurses’ station. More coffee.
5:48 still at the nurses’ station talking. Some staff members are watching a movie on a laptop. Don’t know what movie it is. I’m sorta bored. Want to visit other units but too creepy outside to leave the one I am on. Hear a high-pitched cry. Know exactly who it is. Go to her room. Client was turned into a prostitute at age of 4. She has issues. Can’t sleep.. We talk.. About lots of nothing. She always is soothed by my non-directive therapy. I am a Jedi Knight. I am strong with the force. We agree boys and men are stupid. I remember I have some emergency gummy bears in my purse. We shared the candy. She feels better. Told me she loves me. I love her too. Mean it. Give her a hug and tell her to get some sleep. Glad I could help.. She is a notorious cutter. No cutting on my shift missy! I hate the sight of blood.
Coffee coffee coffee
6:29 something is amiss at the Nut Hut. I can feel it. Two kids rushed into another kid’s room to finish what started yesterday. I’m tired. I pretend the client I was with still needed me. Let the people who want a “taste” break this up. They do. After everything is settled the staff does a little victory dance. They really get into their job. Visit the kids involved in the fight. Have to fill out paperwork on what happened. Need statements. Need to neutralize this situation otherwise this can go on for days and days. Clients still do not know my name.. They keep calling me Miss.. You don’t understand Miss.. He disrespected me Miss.. People from LA kill me. This respect issue goes too far. Jail mentality, gang mentality, rears its ugly head yet again. UGH. Can’t persuade them to give it up. The day therapist is going to have to deal with this. My suggestion is to give them double doses of Benedryll tonight so they sleep the entire night. I don’t need all this on my shift.
6:50 I am tired. Emotionally tired. Physically tired. Unfortunately I won’t have another day off for 3 more days. I am on my 8-day stretch. Consider calling in tonight. These kids are just getting started. Is a full moon on the way? Oh yeah.. They don’t have to be good because there aren’t any big activities coming up which we can bribe them with. Greeeeaaat.. I want to call in for the rest of the week till my days off.
7:10 the next shift comes trickling in. We convene in the day room so they can hear a report of what happened the last two shifts. They are made aware of all the activity on the unit and what is behind it. Luckily they are not walking blindly into the day. Sometimes I feel like I am fighting in Viet Nam with a water gun. I’ve lost count of the times I have been afraid last shift.
7:37 I clock out. Relieved. I am leaving in the same condition I came. Success. Get in my car and thank God nothing serious happened. We are all safe. Relatively. Plug in my iPod and listen to Jay Z all the way home. Resist the urge to stop by the doughnut shop. I am already a fatass.
7:50 pull into my garage. Notice how everyone is leaving for work. Try not to make eye contact so I don’t have to wave. I’m exhausted. Not in the mood for pleasantries. Open the door and release the Kracken from his cage. Puppykins is wiggly and happy to see me. His body is all warm from sleep and soft. We go outside. He relieves himself then pounces on me. We play fetch for a little while.
8:22 Go back inside and feed Puppykins. He eats the same thing everyday and is always appreciative. He doesn’t get his food until he “sits pretty”. I got that phrase from Toddlers and Tiaras. He sits pretty, gets his food and attacks it with gusto. He eats the same thing every day with the same enthusiasm. I wonder what goes on in a dog’s mind. Wearily I climb the stairs and take a shower. I go through my emails and play on twitter until I get tired. It doesn’t take long. Puppykins is playing quietly in the corner. A little too quiet. I take a peek to see what he is up to. Damn. He is eating one of my poetry books. I could A. get out of bed and take it from him or B. just buy a new one. I opt for B. The book is his.
So while you were sleeping I was keeping kids safe from themselves as well as others. I was convincing a cutter that self-mutilation isn’t a good way to cope. I was talking to boys with anger issues off the ledge. I kept a suicidal kid from killing himself one more night. These are my kids. I love these kids because to me they are amazing. However to the rest of society these kids are headed for jail or death. The kids who can’t be controlled by their parents. The kids who have been in and out of trouble. The kids who refuse to go to school. The kids who aren’t strangers to court rooms, case workers, police, judges, lawyers and a myriad of people in the criminal justice system. The kids their own parents find hard to love. The kids society doesn’t want to deal with. I deal with them (lovingly in my own way) while you were sleeping. And when I am at home, in the quite parts of the day while you are at work I pray that perhaps just perhaps I will reach some of them. Get them to change their ways. I hope to accomplish all this.. While you are sleeping.