Thursday, October 16, 2008

Favorite Place

I'd like our home to be our therapists' favorite place to come work.

Actually, I'd like all their clients' homes to be the favorite, such that every therapist could look forward to every visit with every family! But I know that's not how it is in the real world, and since the only home I can influence is my own...

This "favorite place" idea of mine grew organically from the seed of wanting to get the most out of our therapy visits as possible. To me, that meant being present and engaged to try to learn all I can from the therapists' expertise; sharing what I know about Joy and what's going on with her; and coming up with my own ideas about how we can work together.

It also meant being organized, and available, and on-time for the sessions. (Occasionally I flub, but get easily forgiven because of my track record.)

Therapists respond positively to such efforts! Cordial partnerships have ended up becoming friendships, and I've ended up with even more reasons to want to make things pleasant.

I found myself taking a little extra care to keep the floors on which they work/play from getting too disgustingly grungy, and to keep the bathroom reasonably clean as well. Not that I wouldn't do that for our family (right?), but this provides an extra little kick in the pants.

Then there are the little things that make life a little sunnier. Like small gifts of produce from the garden. (Especially among our intensive-autism line therapists, these people aren't making a princely wage!) Or passing along a certain jack-o-lantern stencil to a therapist who gave me the thumbs-up about a certain sign in our yard. Or complimenting a therapist on the piano piece she played for Joy during a session, ending up with me asking to borrow the sheet music.

Most of this stuff I'm almost doing more for me and Joy than for the therapists, and I wouldn't be doing these things if I felt it was a burden or an obligation. Instead, it makes me happy -- and it makes them happy -- and happy therapists are more likely to bring that attitude through the door.

As I said before, ideally there would be no hint of competition between families. And I know that there are reasons why, say, one's bathroom might be hard to keep clean or life is just too freakin' insane to do one more extra thing. I've had stretches like that, most notably this past winter, and nobody's held it against me.

Speaking of this past winter, for Christmas last year we gave our therapists little gifts of homemade strawberry freezer jam. For some reason, thinking back on that now, it reminds me of a line from a LaVyrle Spencer romance called Morning Glory. (Yes, I do have that kind of stuff on my shelf, among the highbrow goodies. Now you know.) Anyway, the heroine is trying to hire a lawyer, during WWII when money is tight, and she brings with her a quart of honey from the farm.

"Might this be construed as bribery, do you think, Gladys?"
"Construe it any way you like, but try it on a bran muffin. It's indescribable."

Construe this any way you like!


datri said...

When Kayla was in EI, her therapists were thrilled to come here. Many of them worked with dysfunctional famillies and they said it was so nice to come to a clean house. Our PT said she went to one house and she moved a piece of clothing and underneath were maggots. And our speech person went to a place where she insisted on sitting on a wooden kitchen chair because the floor was so disgusting (urine, feces, etc.) Another house they'd put the kid to bed with a bottle and the mattress stunk of weeks of sour milk. And my service coordinator used to work for Child Protective Services and said that her boss said as long as the kids had a roof and appeared fed, she couldn't remove them. Shocking. It's hard to believe that there really are people who treat their kids that way.

Anonymous said...

i construe it as a good mom, invested and grateful and giving something back to those who give so much .. and i think it's beautiful

Anonymous said...

You certainly have a blog that I like to visit.

I've always wanted to know, is that really you jumping off the bridge?

[Did I just see a feather duster sweep across your banner?]

JoyMama said...

Datri - I didn't put it in the post, but I've definitely heard those stories too. And the bit about keeping the bathroom at least decent... more than one of our therapists has made a regular potty stop at the end of our session so they won't have to set foot in the bathroom at the next client's home. Some kids face so many more challenges than just whatever it is they're getting therapy for.

JoyMama said...

Jess -- Hugs and thanks!

Therextras -- Funny you should mention the feather duster. I've got a lovely duster with dyed-purple ostrich feathers from Flylady that sits in a big vase on the piano, together with a bunch of peacock feathers. Joy has started climbing up the piano bench to get at the feathers, just this past week or so! As for the "JoyMama takes flight" photo, I think I may have to feature tht story some upcoming Wednesday... tease-y tease tease!

Anonymous said...

I love that idea of wanting your home to be your therapist's best place to work. It's the small things that you do that make a world of difference for everyone involved. I'm already trying to come up w/ a good idea for Christmas presents for Rhema's therapists - the strawbeery jam was a good idea!

JoyDad said...

You don't think I'd marry a woman who would fling herself untethered off a bridge, do you????

Well?????? ;-)

Lynda said...

When joymama mentioned to me about wanting to make her home a favorite place for the team members, I totally understood where she was coming from. Since I almost always have at least one kiddo in the daycare who is getting services, I've had dozens of therapists come through over the years. Although we've had a couple that didn't really "fit" most of them have been amazing! I appreciate all they do for the kiddos and I appreciate all I learn from them. I try to make a point of letting them know that from time to time. And what's wonderful too is that they let me know how much they appreciate me as well. Some members of the intensive autism program who were in my home for hours at a time, many times a week, have become life long friends. Even though the kiddo has moved on, I still meet several therapists for dinner from time to time. Not only do I want to make the daycare inviting, I want to make myself inviting. 2 minutes of socializing with a therapist, "How's your day going?" "How is your husband?" "How was your day off?" "That color looks great on you." goes a long way towards making a relationship that goes a little beyond therapist and parent or child care provider. Sometimes I could see a therapist take a sigh of relief when they walked in the door. And I so enjoyed hearing, "I love coming here and working with Joey."
The kiddos and therapists have a lot of work to do in their sessions. A welcoming smile, a chocolate chip cookie and a clean bathroom can make all the difference in how a session will go!

Anonymous said...

No slight to JoyDad intended! You obviously have great taste in women, and great talent for taking care of your family, although, like most men, you've had help from God. Ahem.

Taking a literary lense-view of the the photo - I interpret that the blog is a leap (of faith) or outside of her usual comfort zone. I agree that blogging requires a certain measure of courage, especially if one recognizes the potential consequences, if not risks.

Or, for a literal interpretation, the photo could be 'altered' to represent the above.

The whole relationship thing with the therapists is an excellent topic, and JoyMama helps everyone by blogging on it, albeit she exposes something more about her housekeeping. [very personal there, JM.]

So I'm waiting in tease-mode for revelation about the photo. Nothing personal, JD. [LOL does not express my every motor-response to humor - is the an acronym for the cover-your-mouth kind of laughter? tee,hee.] Ahem. Again.

Osh said...

totally understand where you are coming from!

rainbowmummy said...

I used to joke that the only time my house was clean was when the therapist came round, lol.

Now we have no therapists that come round, but once his school teacher stopped by on her way home as Egg had left his bag (well they forgot to remind him, it was like his 5th day at his 4 teacher-ed sn school ;0)) and I just cried and cried when she left. My house is the biggest cause for my depression, not because it is messy but because it is literally falling to bits. May post about this, but I don't think I would be able to type through the tears..(I shall do it on an angry day, lol)

Sorry strange comment, lets move on, freezer jam?

JoyMama said...

Rainbowmummy - hugs about the house. Challenges come in many forms!

Re the freezer jam, was that a request for a definition? It's a method that doesn't actually cook the fruit and you don't use a canner to seal the jars, you freeze them for storage instead. The flavors are startlingly fresh that way, worlds apart from what you'd buy off a shelf at the grocery. Here's a recipe link -- very easy to do.

rainbowmummy said...

Thanks for the hug, sorry for the crazy lady comment. And thanks for the link (I need to find out how you link in comments), I have never heard of freezer jam before, I am actually pretty excited, lol.

Quirky Mom said...

I love this post! It's a really nice idea. :)

Rainbowmummy, to link in a comment you need to use html:

You use the tag <.a href="insert link url here"> (without the period), then the text you want to appear as a link, and then close with <./a> (also without the period).

Mama Mara said...

And I thought you cleaned the house just for me. I must say, it does impress!

When my therapists come over, I insist they use my bathroom, which is for girls only.

Niksmom said...

Hmmm, thought I commented but it disappeared. Oh well.

We always had such a great relationship with Nik's therapists and loved having them in our home. I've heard the horror storeis about some of the places they go and always felt so bad for them. I'd always try to have some extra coffee in the pot or something to offer them as they are often on the road a lot and eating lots of drive-thru food.

Mimzy said...

Thanks Joymama, your efforts are appreciated!!!