My youngest landed her first part-time job in retail. Her first week is going by, but as it does, we are learning about how Autism, anxiety and other developmental disabilities can interject and affect the process. My son, who is now 24, is doing well in his second job, but he still has issues related to his challenges. Both of their anxiety issues prevent them from driving for now, and I will never push them to do something as involved as driving if they are not prepared.
So, my days are now a mix of working from home, interspersed with driving duties to get the two of them back and forth to work. Also added in are long talking sessions about how stressful the work is, dealing with the public, and overcoming the many social challenges that come with Autism, anxiety, and a learning disability in math. The registers may do the basic math, but you still have to give change and for my daughter, this is a huge roadblock right now. (Yes, we’ve already gotten the play money and are working with it!)
This second picture is a good simulation of what school mornings now look like after the job has started. She finished work quite late last evening and as we all know, coming straight home and going right to sleep doesn’t always work. We all need time to wind down and get ready for sleep. In the middle of a pandemic, she is also experiencing interactions with some inconsiderate customers and their refusal to wear masks, which is difficult for her to know how to handle since our state has a mandatory mask mandate. (Is COVID over yet? Ugh)
The intense anxiety she lives with daily even before COVID or getting her first job, there is now the new experience of learning a whole new set of skills. However intense the learning curve is for her, she is trying so hard to grasp all of this with maturity and determination. The sense of being overwhelmed cannot be ignored though. She has already had the first customer yell at her because she gave incorrect change, even though she apologized and said it was her first week. It is hard as a mother to sit back and listen to this, but I know that these realities are something I cannot protect her from. So, I listen and try to let her know that people can be miserable things and to just ask for help from a supervisor or manager if things get unmanageable. Thankfully, most people are kind and tell her it’s no worry, as they too remember starting their first jobs. I am grateful to those people who show patience and kindness where it should be shown.
While she hasn’t received it yet, soon she will have that joy of getting her first paycheck. Since she started in the middle of a pay cycle, they are predicting her first check will come on paper, in the mail. I’m secretly happy about this, because I can get that photograph of her holding the envelope and add it to my milestone collection for my children. It’s a rite of passage that is disappearing in our digital world. Also, I want to take the opportunity to try and explain the whole tax situation for her and why she doesn’t get every dollar of her hourly wage.
In these uncertain times, I’m extremely proud of her for taking the leap and getting a job. While both of my children at home were, until recently, overwhelmed with the presence of a verbally abusive and narcissistic conman (who is thankfully gone from our lives for good), they have emerged from that horrible time with renewed optimism and hope for the future. No longer feeling trapped in their rooms in forced avoidance, they have emerged from these states into stronger, more mature, and most joyously of all, HAPPY young people. Oh the lessons one learns in motherhood, life, parenthood and much, much more. We can now relax in the open with positive moments, more time spent together and the knowledge that they are beginning their adult lives in the best way they can. All of this, from the pandemic through new jobs, major life changes and more has given us the opportunity for our little family to grow in a positive direction. Many dinners together, movies and shows watched and more interactions are now possible that we can relax and be ourselves!
In the meantime, I will be there to listen to all the stories of rude customers, the terror of someone using a paper check (in 2021, they still use them? she asks lol), and other new experiences she wasn’t aware of. Since I’m back to writing professionally again, I will admit to relishing the time alone, shocked at the quiet that was missing for well over a year now. Even the cats are using the time in the evenings now to sleep and enjoy the silence.
Every time I drop her off…