I vividly remember being 6 years old and being on the back porch with my 5'4 mom while she switched the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I remember my 6'4 brother saying something smart alecky to my mom. And I remember my mom telling him, "You're not too big for my to turn over my knee and spank your butt."
That left a huge impression on me. I decided I would be "the good one."
My brother was the oldest.
My oldest sister was funny and happy.
Next sister was the gloomy one.
the Next sister died when she was 5 and became the one we didn't talk about.
And last my younger sister who was -- then-- "the baby" and just annoying.
My role would be - to be "good".
And I have been.
The Love Languages talk about how we all have ways we prefer to be affirmed.
Physical Touch-- Camp made me more of a hugger and I tend to offer hugs if I think someone "needs" one, but (maybe it's so many years in K-2 where your body is fair game for poking and prodding) I do not seek to be touched.
Quality Time-- I am an introvert. Time isn't necessary, and in some cases, more stressful.
Gifts and Acts of Service make me feel like I need to reciprocate.
So that lead to Words of Affirmation. I'm the "good one". I do the right thing and I like people to recognize that.
But for the first time last week I realized that I not only want to be recognized for doing the right thing, I seek out doing things that will bring me that recognition.
I bend over backward to do things for others. At work, I never take off, because I don't want to let any one down. We get 2 personal days a year and 6 sick days. My sick "bank" has 63 days in it after 10 years. I volunteer to fill in for those who do take time off. I stay late. I work at home for free because I am an only an Instructional Assistant.
Friday I had a scheduled half day because I had to take my son to a doctor's appointment. There were 3 other assistants who were gone. I stayed through my usual lunch and recess duty because I didn't want to make things difficult-- even though I should have left before lunch duty.
I volunteered to stay through 1st grade to cover. Another assistant told me she could cover first grade. Knowing it would affect her ability to take her own lunch I resisted a bit.
Did I want to be recognized for being a martyr?
Yes. Yes I think I did.
How crazy is that?
I think I feel like I have to go big to be recognized. I think this is mainly because "Thank you," is used so infrequently. And when it is used, it is a general, "Thank you for all you do." directed to a group of which I happen to be a part.
That is not enough.
"Thank you for putting so much effort into planning your reading intervention. I know you spent your own money and time in doing that," would mean the world to me, because it would let me know I have been seen.
I realized last week just how invisible I have felt under past leadership. Our new principal is so much better. She gave me some of that affirmation last week before my "martyr Friday." I think that is what allowed me to finally see how desperate I had become.
I still want to be the good one so I will still volunteer. However, I will also think before I put myself last.
The lesson to others would be to recognize that there is a difference between genuine, specific recognition and manipulation and those of us who appreciate recognition are keenly aware of the difference.