Yesterday I spent four hours in a soporific safety training at work. I, the sole clinician, and a bunch of burly staff members, sat glassy-eyed for our mandatory annual review on how to de-escalate violent kids and restrain them if need be.
I sat next to Bobby, a hulking African-American Staff who works up the hill in the lockdown facility. I love Bobby. He’s as big as a land mass and has a perpetual dead-pan grin. What you see is what you get with Bobby. He wastes no time with political correctness.
“I hear you’ve got girls up the hill now,” I said, referring to the previously all-boy facility.
“Four of them.” Bobby shook his head. “And those four girls are worse than all the boys combined. They’re so emotional.”
“Right,” I laughed. I laughed because I know first-hand the severity of migraine a hormonal emotional disturbed teenage girl can induce. “Everything’s personal with girls.”
“Everything’s personal. I mean, somebody calls me fat, I don’t care. So what? But the girls, they can’t get over it. The girls are getting restrained more than the boys.”
Everyone in the class took turns demonstrating how to take an out-of-control kid to the floor. We paired up, flanking a class member who pretended to be the kid. Bobby’s technique was an art form: he practically waltzed the “kid” to the floor while I got points off for inadvertently sticking my knee in a crotch.
During the break, Bobby hooked me up with some coffee he’d scored in the CEO’s secretary’s office.
“A few years ago, we were here, and you were talking about your ex,” he said. “You were pretty funny.”
“Yeah. I guess…”
“And now, I heard you got married! Congratulations.”
I cringed and took a breath. I hate telling people I’m twice-divorced. One divorce is understandable, but two is Jerry Springer-esque.
“Thank you, but I’m not married anymore.”
I braced myself for an incredulous head-shake, but there was none. Only a kind look.
“No more husbands for me.”
“Nah, never say never. You could still meet the right guy.”
I relaxed my shoulders. I felt relieved by Bobby’s take-it-in-strideness.
“I’m divorced now,” he said.
“Really? And you have a bunch of kids, right?”
“Four. Twelve to eighteen.”
“How is it co-parenting?”
“All right. We do all right with that. We’ve always been on the same page with parenting.”
“Wow,” I said, fantasizing about what the last ten years of my life would have looked like had Prince and I been on the same page with co-parenting. “That’s great.”
“Yeah,” he said.
We were silent for a moment, drinking our coffee.
“Don’t say no to getting married again. You never know.”
“Okay,” I smiled, buoyed both by Bobby’s non-judgment and his hopefulness. Then he gave me that dead-pan look.
“Just date for five years first.”
“Right,” I laughed. “I’ll do that.”