You might think this is hard to believe, but people do not find me intimidating. Maybe it’s my freckles or my fat cheeks or my un-make-uped face or my unkept hair or my ill-fitting clothes. I dunno. People think that I am a pushover when they see me. I guess I used to be, once a long time ago, but baby, I’m different now. They call me “The Hammer”.
Now before you go thinking that I smash little kids’ ice cream cones and punch old ladies in the face, most of the time, I’m not that kind of hammer. I’m more of a hammer covered in a couple of tube socks that smell like daffodils. I’ll still hit you, but I try to do it gently and with pizzazz.
I originally earned this nickname when I was working with kids at my last job. The lead teacher and I would clearly lay out what our expectations and consequences were and then we let the kids go to town. So…if I told you that you could either do your work or sit at a table by yourself doing nothing, by golly, that’s what I meant and you better enjoy the lonely table. One thing we said alot was, “If you choose to x, then you’re choosing to y.” Sometimes it was postive, like “If you choose to finish your work, then you can get a special prize.” Many times it was reminding them that their actions carried consequences, like “If you choose to show that boy the middle finger, then you choose to sit out for recess” or “If you choose to poke Ms. Wise in the vagina, then you choose to have a very important conversation with a very freaked out teacher.” This strategy would have been useful during my high school babysitting days, “If you choose to sit on your comforter after you have not wiped your butt, then you choose to have a poopy comforter.” You know, things like that. It took me a while to get past the “I’m being mean” part of it, but I eventually realized that if I lay out what the expectations are, then they’re choosing to be disciplined. It’s not like I’m handing them a pair of teacher scissors and then turning around, slapping the scissors out of their hands, and saying, “No playing with teacher scissors, you rotten scoundrel.”
I have perfected this nickname at this current job, since it’s easier to hold adults accountable for their actions. I have no qualms about sending students away if they’re late to class or telling them they have to wait until next semester if they tried to sneak in without testing. See, the thing about this job is that I can be a sneaky hammer. You think you’re in the clear and then BAM, meticulous Beth gets ya.
AND if you’re trying to manipulate me, you might as well forget it. Nothing makes me more hammer-like than someone trying to change my mind by lying or crying. I had an adult student tell me (in two separate weeks) that 1) his bike was stolen when someone robbed him at gun point and 2)this same bike is broken and that’s why he needs a new one. Really, mister? I heard there’s a big black market for broken bikes among the rob-them-at-gunpoint crowd. I don’t think so. Move it along, pal. (This same student piled up three plates of food at a potluck that he didn’t contribute to. I told him to scram. He didn’t understand me because he doesn’t speak English, so then I told him to go and yes, I used my pointer finger. )
I think that God is giving me the discernment to know when to be compassionate and when to be “the hammer” sans tube socks and daffodils. People think they can take advantage of me and I won’t say anything but I’ve gotten alot better about speaking up.
Just in case you’ve missed my latest stories of assertiveness:
– I did karaoke at Screams Theme Park with my sister (although I wasn’t assertive enough in our song choice. She picked “This Kiss” by Faith Hill which might be the worst karaoke song ever.)
– I wrote a letter to AT&T (which has never been responded to…SURPRISE.)
– I (tube sock-hammered) the emergency room attendant when he asked why I was there when Alex was having a heat stroke. In a strange twist of irony, I had to take a coworker to a different hospital a few weeks after this. The emergency room attendant was on a personal phone call (Yeah, girl, you know he’s super fine) and so I leaned over and said, “EXCUSE ME. SHE’S HAVING CHEST PAINS” which got us in the express line.
– I told people that I’m probably not going to have kids (and I don’t care what you think about me!)
Is “assertive” just another word for “crotchety”? I feel like it is.
I sure hope so.