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The world seems perfectly balanced between voyeurs and exhibitionists. This I learned from a post long ago, the Analysis of a Front Porch.

Stats have it that if y’all came to party at my house, you’d be peeking in my medicine cabinet, too. I’ll save that for another day.

I’m still trying to figure out how you’d react to the post that hasn’t yet happened about what’s in my freezer, like the box of Arctic Mice.

Meanwhile, the other day at work, it occurred to me that my top desk drawer, while entirely familiar and rational to me, might be unconventional by your standards. Perhaps I’m wrong.

(Keep in mind I work in a locked children’s psychiatric facility)

You be the judge and play a little I Spy:

1.) Plastic sword that went to a Ninja figure (no weapons allowed on unit, even pretend ones)

2.) Pennies confiscated from illicit poker game (my comment to the offenders as I busted up the party: “What is this, Friday night at the Elks Club?”)

3.) Miniature AK-47, a generous donation that came with an action figure (compliments of the benevolent and well-meaning and upscale local ladies’ charitable club which shall remain unnamed)

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For you peeping Toms, the rest is pretty self-explanatory, broken down into convenient anally-retentive categories:

Monetary Goods:

  • Visa gift cards left over from Santa (read: generous Angel Tree donors who gave Visas instead of actual gifts); most partially used and now in my possession because the recipients used them to buy contraband (also now in my possession) the first time around.
  • Weekly allowances according to level earned via point system. Don’t you wish we’d get paid every week according to our virtues instead according to status quo?
  • Well-hidden bag of special, magic, golden coins used by the unit’s Tooth Fairy (me).

Office Supplies:

  • Printer Ink (someone at HP is getting filthy rich)
  • Rolodork (does anyone else still own one in this day and age? I never use mine…going to donate it to a time capsule)
  • Spare keys to the kingdom
  • Plastic paper clips (no metal allowed! can turn into useful tools! weapons! instruments of mass destruction!)
  • 2 rubber  bands (these are at a premium at my workplace for some reason, which is fine & dandy with me since I will forever be traumatized by rubber bands after my ruthless big brothers used me on a regular basis as their moving target)
  • Miscellany clips and other titillating office supplies
  • Batteries (kids unit – gotta have plenty on hand at all times to prevent meltdowns)
  • Mini-flashlight (in case the power goes out during a major hurricane)
  • Unknown tool that comes in handy for all manner of breaking into various and sundry things (such as when a child in a heightened state of petulance decides to jam something into my office door keyhole so I can’t escape…also useful for malfunctioning toys which require a tiny screwdriver that our maintenance dudes never seem to have handy in time to prevent a child’s panic attack)

Personal Items:

  • Extra badge clips (fireman putting out fire, angel, beach umbrella, ho-hum company-issued clip (not pictured: smiley sun))
  • Emergency lipstick (I never know these days when our beloved Fox-TV PR gal is going to whisk into my office with her camera and ask for an impromptu quickie video clip or photo-op)
  • Body lotion (used often, daily…God get us out of winter in this hemisphere!)
  • Emergency earrings (ladies, how many times have you rushed out the door without your makeup or jewelry and felt utterly naked?  ‘Nuff said….)
  • Pocket mirror (doubles as cool reflective toy to use with kids when we turn out the lights and play flashlight tag)
  • Gum (there is floss in there too, if you look close enough – oral hygiene is great to have in the workplace)
  • Second box of gum that has no gum in it (it has more batteries, a tube of hydrating goo and a Post-It with critical info I need on hand at any given moment
  • Feminine hygiene products (you never know. Trust me after this last 1/2 marathon one week ago today– YOU NEVER KNOW)
  • Chocolate kisses (confection affection from one who knows me best)
  • Satsuma orange – local orange picked off the tree in our yard. Sweet. Juicy. 70 calories. Vitamin C. Cancer prevention. Good stuff. Great snack.

So…what’s in YOUR drawer at your work or home office?

Anything interesting?

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Thank you, dear readers, for your thoughts and prayers for the little ones I serve, and I wish you all a very merry Christmas!

~~ssm

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Dear                            ,

I hope you know that even though you just came to (this lockup hospital) Santa always knows where you are, so you don’t have worry that I didn’t know where to find you this Christmas! Santa comes to (this hospital), too, and I know all my boys and girls, and especially YOU!

I’ve been told that you’ve come through some very, very hard times in your life recently, and that it is terribly difficult for you to talk to others about those times. I want you to know that besides Christmas presents, I am going to give you a different type of present, a present that doesn’t come in a box or in wrapping. That present is called COURAGE, and it is something I know you already have plenty of. But I am giving you MORE, because you are very dear to me and you didn’t deserve to have the things happen to you that happened. Those things, dear one, were NOT your fault. (Remember that naughty people, especially grown-ups who are supposed to know better, get lumps of coal and a lifetime of shame for things like that).

Please know that as you use the courage I give you, time will help heal your pain. And I want you to know how very proud I am of how strong you’ve had to be, and how strong you will be as you learn to trust grown-ups again. That is not an easy thing to do. In the meantime, please don’t hurt yourself or hurt others – you are such a beautiful child, and I want you to feel good about yourself and about your life. You have a very bright future.

Thank you for believing in me, because I believe in YOU, too.

Merry Christmas with Love,

Santa

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Dear                             ,

Thank you for writing to me with your Christmas list. I always love to hear from the boys and girls I care so much about, and you are one of them!

I will try to get you as many of the things on your list as you listed. Even though you won’t be able to be home with your family this Christmas, I know where to find you at (this hospital). Santa doesn’t need keys! Listen for the clatter of my reindeer on the roof.

Since you asked me for some things, I’d like to ask you for something. I would like you to work on not saying naughty things when you get angry – try not to curse, not to make threats to hurt other people or your family, and to try to be respectful. Remember, the people you talk to are people I love and care for, too, and I like to see people happy. You are a smart boy, and I know you will be able to make good choices, even though things aren’t perfect.

Enjoy your presents, and have a very, Merry Christmas!

Love,

Santa

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Dear                          ,

What up, bro’? Thank you for writing me such a good letter! I will try to bring you as many things as I can from your list. I like how your writing has improved, and that you are able to talk respectfully to other people about what you’re feeling inside, more than before. That is what makes things better.

Did you have a nice birthday? I was so excited that you had so much fun and got to go on a pass and all that jazz. I overheard you asking me to bring you a Dad for Christmas, and I am working on that, although it won’t be THIS Christmas – hopefully soon, though. I want you to know that even though your family can’t be together this Christmas, that I know of another family who is waiting for YOU to join them. They will wait for you to finish working on your treatment goals, so keep trying to do your best. Everything will work out just fine.

And someday, I hope you decide to become a professional athlete – I don’t know anyone else your size who can shoot a hoop from across the gym each and every time like you do. You’re a pretty amazing guy. And now that you’re eight, you’ll be able to do even more!

Have a very, Merry Christmas and enjoy all your presents!

Love,

Santa

p.s. – Don’t try to fool the Tooth Fairy any more – she reports directly to ME. But your therapist told me that everything’s cool now, so we’re good, dude. Jam on.

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Dear                          ,

I got your letter that you wrote to me and I want you to know how much it meant to me. I will try to bring you as many things on your list as I can. My elves are working overtime to get everything just right.

I know how difficult it must be not only to be so far away from home, but to have to wait so long for the right family for you. I am so proud of how patient you are and how much hope you continue to have even though it feels like it’s taking forever. I see how hard you are working on your treatment goals, and I know someday you will join a new family who is waiting for the right child – that’s YOU! In the meantime, I want you to have fun this Christmas.

When you are sad, please remember that I am thinking of you and that so many people are working to get you home. Don’t do things to hurt yourself (no more tying things around your neck!) or to hurt others – this is very important, because I love all my children very dearly, and I want you to feel better, to feel happy. Remember that God and I care for you very much and will make sure that you stay safe this Christmas. We will wipe your tears away with our love. Never give up, never lose hope – stay strong and keep facing forward to your bright future. Keep believing!

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas, with love,

Santa

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Hey, God…

I really should lighten up. After all, life is too short. Why, I ask myself, are my posts so, um, serious? Is it because I use most my humor at work, making my superiors and the children laugh? Wait, they must be laughing at me instead of with me. This could account for why I have not been promoted within my impatient time frame. Some coworkers might beg to differ, however, since the new position with the office they gave me is the only one, other than higher administrators, which has an actual window in it, a window that overlooks some beautiful scenery…lily pads with bullfrogs sunning themselves, a blue heron whom I suspect may be a prop on the payroll for therapeutically aesthetic purposes, sloping lawn that dares you to lie down, cross your heart and roll down to the pond. One day I will lead all the children to do just that, simply because it is there. We will get muddy and laugh.

Maybe I am being kept there for their entertainment. Maybe they secretly want to say and do the brash things I (sometimes impulsively) do, like saying what everyone is thinking anyway, but nobody wants to be the idiot out on a limb to come out and say so. Or maybe it’s the double entendres I spit out on daily whims as circumstances present themselves, the kind that go clear over the heads of the children and certain adults, but are clearly understood by those who happen to be on their toes at the moment. Other than a couple of appreciated indiscretions, I have followed my New Year’s resolution this year in the office to keep all emails brief and businesslike.

Blah.

I will have to do an experiment and try being serious at work some day, and see if I don’t have more playful humor left over in the evening for this blog. Oops, that might not work…they recently gave me that office to work in a position in which playfulness is valued, even expected. The staff was stiffly aghast last week at my choice in replenishing the Treasure Box with whoopee cushions, rubber roaches and hillbilly teeth; my superiors suppressed grins and happily but quietly reimbursed me for such purchases. The children and I had a wonderful time, nonetheless, and I hope lessons were learned all the way around about the importance of laughter and lightheartedness. Alas, am I doomed to be playful by day, serious by night? I hereby try not to be so serious, even when I am not being paid to be playful. How much better life is when we keep playfulness a priority. Life is too boring, too straight-laced, otherwise.

I was terribly grateful for the unbusinesslike email a coworker sent me envying my daily playful responsibilities; and shamefully amused at another coworker who went to the trouble to page me overhead throughout the entire facility this morning in front of you, God and everybody, just because she wanted to show me something she found for me on her phone that was best relegated to her phone and not mine, and made me blush just having to look at it in the confines of the office setting. Oh, my. I do want to sign up for those classes, though.

And when I came home, our home was opened to several neighborhood children who emerged out of nowhere when we pulled in. How much more fun was it for them to do homework with classmates who are neighbors; to ride bikes off of the ramp which they rigged up in the front yard; to laugh at the baby who puts a “y” instead of an “l” into his vocabulary and tried to feed his stuffed yion some Yucky Charms; taming snakes and lizards and critters the other kids aren’t allowed to keep in their homes; to feed all seven children supper because they were here and hungry and nobody wanted to go home quite yet. I hope the background strains of “Holding on to Black Metal” didn’t subliminally corrupt anyone.

Now it is my turn to unwind. I am thoroughly exhausted, cold still in full swing, head swimming with all the puzzles and Legos and dollhousing and Monopoly Junior and cards I played today, while I slipped in some neurological rearranging on those with whom I played. I will consider planting a rubber roach somewhere tomorrow. But for now, I am reduced to stick-figure status, tired and simplistic, with X’s for eyes.

Aaaah, thanks, God, for these beach chairs, that we can unwind together! It’s okay to play both on and off the clock, isn’t it?

I secretly think You must like to play, too, God. After all, You rested on the seventh day. You play…for keeps.

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