I've had a most extraordinary few days. Too much so.
Thursday, I had my annual employee review, which is supposed to be with my manager to go over my strengths and weaknesses and performance ratings.
But Mr. Horrible took over my review and saw it as an opportunity to take pot-shots at me, apparently completely confident that he can do whatever he wants and it will have no repercussions. Despite the best efforts of my real manager, my review was filled with unsupportable nonsensical complaints, including that I'm pretentious. Pretentious! Anyone who knows me and my formidibale portfolio of faults knows that I stink at pretense.
But Human Resources reviews are a rare link between we peons and the real world. And they're in writing. We've shifted to my element.
I've spent 2 days crafting a lengthy 9-page response, with hours of Dave's help in editing, and am bracing myself for a major fight next week. This is WAY preferable to enduring the astounding incompetence, nepotism, and personal attacks I've had to live with in the past year. I'm so ready to expose these ridiculous open secrets. We've all been playing this game of "The Emporer Has No Clothes," pretending my boss's boss is competent, sucking up to him because he has some sort of history and common culture with his boss. But now it seems I'll be the child who finally blurts out the obvious truth.
Two nights ago I was up until almost 4am, and last night again very late. The tension and stress is indescribable, how this consumes and eats at me. I just can't stand the wrongness of it all; I can't live with it and brush it off and compartmentalize as my far more mature and secure (real) manager and some coworkers can. The wrongness and injustice burns away at me.
But this has a serious personal cost. I spent last Thursday night snapping at everyone in my family, then holing myself up in the office and writing almost nonstop until well into the wee hours. Much of the next morning and night were spent doing the same, and I delivered my extremely strong, damning, 9-page written complaint very late Friday night (or early Saturday morning if you want to be technical about it).
So task #1 today was: de-stress. Get yourself out of Norma-Rae mode. Not easy when people you care about are seriously suffering. Dave and his very strong work ethic, high personal standards and exemplary work performance allow me to put myself in a position to be fired or quit, but many of my coworkers and my manager are their family's primary support and don't have that luxury. The rabble I'm rousing will create serious heartburn for other people, even if they agree it's necessary. Thanks to Dave, I'm have the financial wherewithall to make waves, but I'm painfully aware that my actions can put others into far deeper dilemmas than I have. And this creates tremendous stress on me, even if I believe I'm doing the right thing. What even is the right thing -- maintaining your professional ethic or supporting your family?
So when Gabriel had a soccer game today, I decided to stay and watch, be outside for a while, and wrestle my burdened mind out of its dark abyss.
Gabriel and I arrived half an hour early, same as the coach had requested last week. We never got an email this week, so I wasn't sure if we needed to be early, but in my life now I err on the side of early. My poor friends in high school waiting for me for over half an hour on smelly subway platforms would be shocked at my grown-up attention to promptness!
Turns out, no one else except another kid arrived early, but he and Gabriel practiced together. The other kid is a tall, skinny 10yo 5th-grader who's remarkably calm and polite. I liked him immediately, and cheered loud when he scored a goal during the game.
This week, Gabriel wasn't goalie the whole game, so he did a lot of running. I was interested to see how confident and competitive he is -- he gets right in there, aggressively going after the ball.
Though I miss the pomp and circumstance of baseball, soccer is a lot more exciting to watch. It helped that the coach of the opposing team was a longtime friend from Las Madres. Our sons had the same due date, though hers was born premature and so now is in 4th grade -- but here we are, 9 years later, watching our sons play each other in soccer!
The game was pretty unmatched though. Soccer lends itself to stars, and it seems Gabriel's team has a few stars, including his coach's son. When that kid gets the ball, he blows everyone else away and changes the whole game. It's really cool to watch, though it's sort of outside the "spirit" of kids' sports. No wonder when Gabriel was goalie last week he didn't do much -- his teams' offense is so strong he was alone on his end of the field for most of the game.
With 2 extra players, some of Gabriel's team had to sub out, and Gabriel's coach wisely had his superstar son sit out some of it. That made it possible for Gabriel's teammates -- including Gabriel to some extent -- actually play, and then it looked more like a 9-year-old boys' soccer game. (While that's all warm-n-fuzzy, truth is I missed watching the awesome kid.)
Gabriel really stands out from his team in certain ways. He's by far the shortest and skinniest. He's among the weakest in skills, and no wonder -- many of the other boys have played for 4-5 seasons now, and some have played together for numerous seasons. This really counts in soccer, I observed today.
Gabriel is also one of the most clueless -- he doesn't understand the rules of the game, or the routine, such as when halftime happens and everyone is off the field getting a snack or a drink. He's still out there staring at the sky!
But he has his strengths. He's competitive, he's aggressive, he's confident, and he's in the game. He had the nerve to call to the super-duper kid "I'm HERE! PASS TO ME!!" At this age and skill level (everyone's accepted), boys are only so-so at passing to each other; they get the ball and they want to keep it. I noticed that the boys who've played together for a few years seemed to radar each other and were much better at passing.
Gabriel's team dominated the game as they had last week, so toward the end, the coaches instituted a "two-touch" rule, meaning, a player on Gabriel's team could only touch the ball twice, then had to pass. I knew Gabriel would have no idea what this was about, and he didn't. Then later they designated just one kid at a time on Gabriel's team who could score. And since no one on Gabriel's team wanted to be goalie, they stopped bothering with sticking a kid in the goal position -- all the action was at the poor opposing team's goal anyway.
Despite these measures, Gabriel's team won easily anyway. He was thrilled, but I'm not 100% convinced that having a few boys on his team who are so outstanding is so good for him. No wonder he wanted to be goalie last week, he knew he was outclassed by his teammates, and I saw that today!
At the "U10" level (that means young-age-10 and under), self-esteem still factors into the rules, and the games aren't allowed to be total blowouts. Hence the "two-touch" and "only-one-player-can-score" rules. Self-esteem and confidence have never been in Gabriel's top 20 of issues, so it's almost a shame he's not on a worse team, since he can totally take losing. On the other hand, it's probably also good for him to be around other boys who are so good. And around other boys in general,
especially the super-nice kid Rishi who he practiced with before the game.
Regardless of quality of teams and games, it was great for both of us to be out there. Did I once say I would never be a soccer mom?! What ignorance! It's great!!! And so much better than the alternative.