March 10, 2014 by Dadinator
I sit on a couch looking around waiting to be called in. I can’t believe I started 6 months ago, but there it is. Time flies when you’re busy. I take a moment to think about the last 6 months and what I’ll do in the meeting. You know how these things go, you sit down, set goals, map out a “development plan” – everywhere has them, whatever they choose to call them – file it and stick it in a drawer where it sits and collects dust, like your goals do. Then your little meeting request thingimy pops up and you realise you forgot about it for 6 months, and frantically try to remember what you talked about last time.
I wonder how I have actually done. Am I on track? Have I hit my goals? Am I actualising my potentiality? Do I have enough office lingo? What if I’m not as good at this as I thought? What goals did I set for myself again?
My work situation is complicated. I joined this new project team 6 months ago, but I still I have to keep working on my old projects at the same time. It makes life a strain, but I feel I am coping and doing my best.
Its time to face the music, so I get up and walk to my seat. I sit opposite the boss. She is busying herself with the various detritus in front of her. She hasn’t acknowledged me yet. My mind dips itself into the paranoid currents that run through my head and I wonder if her ignoring me is a bad sign. She then looks up and smiles a welcoming smile. The Lass beams a big toothless grin at me and sticks out her tongue.
The Lass casts aside her toy dinosaur. I instinctively pick it up and return it. This relaxes me. Retrieving toys, I can’t be faulted in that department.
I remember again how these things go. We’ll chat, I’ll get some constructive criticism over a coffee and then put the plan in a drawer for another 6 months. Just got to get through the next 20 minutes without making a dick of myself. I sigh (on the inside) and try to “centre” myself.
“Sure, a coffee would be great… ummm… I’ll get it. Do you want anything?” Dinosaur hits the floor again…. “Let me get that for you”.
I boil the kettle and make myself a strong coffee. I only drink strong coffee these days….
“So, where should we start?” I ask, seizing the initiative because I remember initiative was something I needed to work on.
“Well since I started working for with you I think I’ve learned a great deal. I think we can safely say I’m across the basics now.” I look up for an affirmation, the boss jolts forward and drools, good enough.
“Let’s start there then. I think when it comes to the fundamentals I’ve performed solidly. You’re clothed, cleaned and fed. I know I don’t do the lion’s share of it, I also know I have nothing to do with your nutrition at this stage – that should change soon though. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
“I think I am managing my bath responsibilities well. Much better than when I was with my previous employer at this stage.” I look to see if she has taken to my attempted joke, but she is busy trying to fit her whole fist into her mouth. “I mean I clean you, wash your hair when needed, entertain you with cascading water. There isn’t much more I could be doing around bath time. So I am comfortable with how I’m going there.”
I am not met with any objection, so I consider that part of the discussion over. Good, the basics are the most important pat of my job.
“Yes. Yes I know. Time management. It’s an issue. It’s difficult to juggle all the commitments given that I’m still working in my old role while working in this one. I understand that can’t change, but sometimes the other boss makes requests of me that I cannot ignore, and my work here suffers for it. We have put some things in place though, my colleague is working with The Lad to make sure I am more available to work exclusively on your stuff.” This was always going to be the hard bit, I know I have to work on this area of my performance. Maybe I always will.
“Anyway, I’m going to keep on working to improve it. I’m trying to cut down on bed time for The Lad, and trying to find ways for the two projects to synergise more effectively; find tasks I can do to fulfil both roles at the same time. I think their priorities and outcomes are very closely related and as we move forward we’ll keep finding new efficiencies and new ways of doing things to make everything go more smoothly.”.
I hope she buys that answer. Truth is I have no idea how I’m going to manage both workloads at the same time. I don’t know how I’ve managed so far. Part of me dies as I say “synergise”, “moving forward” and “new efficiencies”, but you’ve got to talk the talk in this business.
The boss stares at me blankly then squeals a gurgley squeal and waves her arms around. She bought it. I can move on.
“So one of my real areas of strength, I think, has been in entertaining you. I’ve established some good games, play and funny faces that seem to be doing the job well” I try on a few, my ‘shocked face’ is always a winner, so is sticking out the tongue. They have the desired effect as the boss giggles madly at me. It’s going better than I thought it would.
“And finally let’s talk about sleep.” I broach a subject that I know is a sensitive one for us all. “I have been working on being able to put you down while you’re asleep in a smoother and more coordinated way, I still need practise, but I aim to be able to set you down to rest without you even knowing I’ve put you down. That’s realistic, isn’t it?” She tilts her head. “Okay, maybe not, but at least I want you to be able to get back to sleep straight away without any discomfort”. She grunts. “Good, agreed then. We can at least agree that I’m good at getting you to sleep. Must be the body hair making it comfortable for you”. Another joke falls flat as the Lass contemplates the rattle bit of her toy dinosaur with glazed eyes.
I sit and wait. And wait. I remember that my boss is pre-verbal. “So, uhhhhh, was there anything else? Look I know the nature of this project will change a great deal over time. It’s only been 6 months and we anticipate this project to last at least 2 decades, so we’ll have to have a few more of these discussions over time to keep track of things. But for now, I think we can see I’m on track, right?”
And then it happens. A grunt, she turns the colour of beetroot and there’s a squelch, followed by a kind of apologetic and concerned look on The Lass’ face. I know this is part of the appraisal, so I collect her and take her off to the change table, knowing I’m quite capable of getting through the ‘practical phase’ of my performance review.