Angry Chalk

Well… I am still alive. Last time I checked I still have a heartbeat and a pulse, so that is good news. Yesterday I thought I was going to lose it. I really thought I was going to have a royal breakdown right there on the blacktop with my many Aftercare chitlens. Up to that day things had been good, stellar even. It’s been hard at times, don’t get me wrong. The first week was all about learning the kids names and figuring out who was a hitter, and who was a lover… who was a biter, and who was a crier? All things I am still learning.

We had a freaking fantastic day on Friday– seriously sensational. I brought in those paper bag masks for them to create and they were all about it. The picture above is of a few of the masks made that day. The kids were feeling creative and positive… I had even baked them brownies. Seriously, it was dreamy. Monday however, presented a whole different situation. I came to work with a positive attitude, all sunshine and smiles. I was greeted by five or so wonderful kindergarten faces tugging at me and fighting for my attention in order to tell me stories about their weekend and their days in class. That part was great. I love that. I was soon informed that there was a parent teacher meeting for the 4th/5th grade classes and I would be in charge of a lot more kids today. Gulp. How many more? A lot. Remember, I am the whole aftercare program… I don’t have an assistant other than a teacher who stays for the first hour to be an extra pair of eyes (usually, depending on the teacher, not all of them, but some, tend to disappear and go grade papers…ugh.) So, it’s all me. Yesterday I had roughly sixteen or so kiddos until 5:00pm. Usually by 5:00 I have about two kids. The lot of kids were in rare form too… all antagonistic and cranky. I had boys wrestling (which has now been prohibited…) that I had to pull off of each other multiple times. I don’t enjoy giving time outs, but I do give them, and I did… still, it didn’t seem to help my cause yesterday. Each kid would emerge from their time out with a little more angst and a little more will to get my goat. EEK! I had an older boy actually punch one of the fifth grade girls in the arm. Really?! C-mon kids. Everything that was not supposed to be climbed or touched was dually violated. I had one kid who kept on doing things to get in trouble while looking at me… the ultimate challenge of sorts. He got a lot of time outs that day.

Here is a typical conversation from yesterday:

Me: “Um, John, can you please stop grabbing Nick by the neck and pulling him to the ground. There is a no wrestling rule.”

Kid: “But, WHY?! WHAT?!! I DIDN’T EVEN DO ANYTHING. GOSHHHHH!!! *dramatic sigh here.*”

Me: ” I have asked you twice now not to wrestle, kick, hit, or throw things. Please get up off the ground and go play somewhere else.”

Kid: “OH MY GOSHHHH!! I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG. HUMPH! *wait 30 seconds and then insert tackling another kid to the grass*

Me: “Really?! Come here right now!! I have told you how many times to get off each other? “

Kid: “I dunno. I wasn’t doing any….(mumblings)”

Me: “Okay… John, go sit on that rock over there. Nick, you sit on that one over there. We are having a time out.”

Kid: *stomp, stomp, stomp… sit. SIGH.*

Heh. Anyway, after a bunch of conflict and rambuncious behavior on their part, I remembered that I had packed some sidewalk chalk in my bag of tricks and thought it I broke it out they would divert their angry energy into positive, beautiful chalk drawings on the cement. Clearly, I was a genius. So, I broke it out. Immediately after opening the package, I realize I have over twice as many kids as I do chalk… no prob, we will just break it in half. Done. Problem solved.

I sat back for about a minute while the kids got “settled” with their chalk… then realized that instead of chalk used for beautiful pictures it had become the chalk of angry adolescent doodlers. I had to reprimand pictures they were drawing making fun of each other… it just got out of hand. Once I thought I had gotten a hold on that problem, I hear one of my kindergartners say “Look!! I drew a penis!! He has a penis!!” Oh no. Now I have to go and have the no inappropriate drawings talk with them. Great. The whole time the kids were restless. Instead of making them calm, the chalk seemed to breed anxiety and a whole new set of problems. While the chalk extravaganza was in full swing, kids started to whine to me about when snack would be ready… what were we having? but, I’m hungry now… sigh. Usually we would just harmoniously, or somewhat harmoniously get snack ready when they were hungry… but today, i didn’t have enough snack to feed everyone there! I had to wait until some of them left, or I would be trampled and eaten out of school and yard by angry little snackers. During the snack whining fest, someone broke a glass in the snack area… which I had to go clean up… while I am cleaning up broken glass the whining snack pack follows me and keeps on about snack…. AHHHH! In a freakishly scary and calm tone I believe I stated the following facts: “I am cleaning up broken glass right now. A glass that one of you broke. I need to get all of it up so no one steps on it or cuts themselves. I will get to snack after I am finished cleaning up the glass. Can someone please get a dustpan?!”

Someone got a dustpan.

Finally the meeting was out, and I was able to give snack to the six or so kids that were left. They were all still in rare form… I felt beaten down at this point. I am not usually one to with hold things, but I had baked cookies the night before and brought them in for the kids as a treat… lets just say the cookies never made it to the table. None of them deserved the cookies. I try really hard to be good to them… I care a great deal about each of them, so when you feel that no one appreciates you or that they won’t even listen to the simplest of requests you kind of just want to cry. I am sure all of you parents know all too well what I am talking about…

In fact, during the day I got to thinking… OMG, I bet you this is what my mother felt like a good deal of the time we were growing up. How horrible. Oh no. That is not a good feeling at all. I called her on my drive home from work that day and when I asked her this question she basically gave out the biggest laugh I have heard her dish up in a long time… She was all too familiar with the feeling, and almost tickled that I was getting to experience the very emotion that I am sure I put her through on more than just a handful of days while growing up. Sorry, Mom. Really.

My evening after work went as follows: wine, couch, wine, bitch to Peter, dinner, eating a handful of with held cookies meant for naughty children, pass out on couch, deliriously stumble to bed upon Pete’s request, wake up at 3:00am with nightmares so terrifying that I had to turn on the lights…followed by cold sweats.

yay.

Today was a better day, thank goodness. I actually said a prayer in the car while driving to school, asking for a little help today.

The principle told me in a stern manor that we are discontinuing the use of chalk on the blacktop. I had gotten permission yesterday to do it… it’s not like we just went in there willy nilly. I felt bad. Oh well, I agree… no more angry chalk!

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~ by soartsyithurts on October 22, 2008.

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