When All That’s Left is You

With a New Year’s Week that started with my boyfriend and ended with a debilitating stomach bug, I’m currently doing the only thing that seems right: watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 and writing, of course.

I’m not particularly excited about the events that are going to take place over the next few weeks, but I have to be an adult, accept it, and deal with it. Teaching was hard, yeah, but this job has given me a completely new appreciation for my dad as a Human Resources Manager and dealing with people on a daily basis. Because dealing with people is hard, especially when it comes to a job that places you in a position of confidante and leader.

House with no letters. (par. 9)

If you’ve been reading, you know I was a House Mom for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at University of Maryland. I say “was” because the fraternity recently lost recognition by the university and is no longer allowed to function. And so now, after working with and getting to know the 31 brothers that lived in the house (and some of the off-campus brothers), I have to essentially start from page one again.

When I took this job, I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that I wanted to continue working with students. But unlike teaching, House Mom meant I saw these students on a daily basis. This was fine with me. Whenever I needed a laugh, I simply talked to the guys. They wrote messages on my board. I left them candy in their mailboxes. We developed a good relationship.

But the hard thing about this job (and I don’t think this is any big secret) is literally having to act as a parent, so-speaking. You can act as their friend, but you also have to reprimand them when they misbehave. And when they really misbehave, the university takes control of this, which is what happened in this case.

The sign is gone, yet the message remains.

So, unlike teaching, where most of the relationships created with students were connected to what letter grade the student was trying to get out of you, these relationships were based on enjoying each other’s company and watching out for them as individuals. Eating lunches together. Sitting on the front porch when it was nice outside. Talking about anything from school to favorite Disney movies to the difference between a “cute girl” and a “pretty girl.”

One of the only places the letters remain in the house (in a room that used to be full of composites and couches).

I had a really hard time accepting their dismissal at first. I felt like a parent whose child had misbehaved and couldn’t comprehend that they would do such a thing. I have a tendency to see the good in people. And I still do see the good in this group of guys but, at this point, there’s really not much I can do, which was the most heartbreaking part of it all.

I’m moved a little toward seeing the bright side of this situation—I’ll have a kitchen for a semester (as I’m being moved to an apartment), I’ll get to work closer with those in the office, and I’ll get to apply lessons learned to dealing with the fraternity I work with next Fall. But for now, especially as I’m still living in the house, all I see is what’s gone.

The rooms remind me of pictures of eerie abandoned/deserted places.

I left a house full of yelling and music and boy smells to return to a house with no letters on the front, no composites, and no guys. Other than my tiny apartment, I might as well be living in a stranger’s house. A few of the guys have already been by to gather their belongings, and it was good to see them. But I also know that from now on, no matter what I do, my relationship with some of them will be inevitably different. I’ve also learned the painfulness of social networking and how it can play right into my “If I don’t see or hear about it, I don’t know about it” policy. In the past, social networking was a fun way to connect with the guys. I once used it to ask them to turn down the music in the house. But, for the first time, this policy became relevant to a post on a social networking website, and it sucked.

Seriously, what happened here?

I know by the time this is all closed up and done with, I will have some good things to draw out of it. As my dad was saying earlier this week, “Everything happens for a reason.” This may be cheesy, but I like to see this as truth as well. This is happening for a reason. I may not see the reason yet, but it’s there.

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