so today . . . finally one of the kids at school learned the lesson i was trying to teach him. of course, he applied it in a totally inappropriate way, but still . . .
this year we have quite a crop of rowdy, unruly little boys. generally i am drawn to the difficult children, but these boys are about to drive me to drink!! thankfully, most of them are not in my class. but during music and recess, those combinations that we worked so hard to separate when making classroom assignments are drawn to each other like magnets! they hit. they shove. they wrestle. they tattle. they retaliate. they drive me crazy!!!!!
but, part of my job is to try to teach them social skills, so i can't just hide in the corner hoping a wine cooler will fall out of the sky (not that i would drink it, i'm just saying . . . )
today was a typical monday, and by 8:40 i had a room full of children who are not my students. these are the early arrivals and today this included four of the rowdy boys. my room is small, which makes it hard to hit, shove, wrestle, or retaliate without being seen and consequently, ending up in trouble. so they are pretty well behaved when they are in my room. but then at 9:00 we go next door for music, which is where things started going south . . .
for some reason, when we go into that room those boys seem to think they have to immediately jump on each other and roll around on the rug. almost every day! and today was no exception. i walked in just in time to see adam shove mitchell. of course i went over to sort it out, and this is what ensued--
me: "what is going on here?"
silence. i looked at adam and said, "adam, i saw you shove mitchell."
you all know what adam said. "well, he shoved me first!"
yes, that is their answer for everything. it isn't my fault. he started it. but he (fill in the blank.) for some unexplainable reason they seem to think that the no hitting, shoving, wrestling rule applies only if they are the first one to do it. actually, i don't think any of them actually think the rule applies to them at all! i don't even think they think about the rule. it is like their bodies are not even connected to their brains. or else their brains are already thinking about lunch while their bodies are getting them into trouble . . .
so i gave adam my standard speech. "so, does that make it ok for you to shove him back?" and they always reply with a no, but i think that is just because they know that is what i want to hear. even while their mouth is saying no, their brain is screaming, "YES, OF COURSE IT DOES!! WHAT DO YOU THINK?? I AM JUST GOING TO STAND HERE AND LET HIM GET AWAY WITH THAT?!?! NO WAY! HE IS GOING TO PAY!! OH YES, WHEN I GET DONE HE IS NEVER EVEN GOING TO THINK ABOUT SHOVING ME AGAIN!!!"
but he said no, and so i continued, "when someone is mean to you, just walk away."
(this is my standard response this year, because the tattling is getting out of control! so we are trying to teach them that instead of engaging and escalating a situation, they can just turn around, walk away, and play with someone else.)
i sent adam to the other side of the room turned to mitchell. mitchell had already heard my interaction with adam. sadly, this is not the first time mitchell has heard my little speech--he is often on one side or the other of the hitting, shoving, wrestling continuum. so when i turned to him to address his role in the scuffle, he didn't get the "just walk away" speech, because he had apparently started it. he got the "shoving is not ok. ever. no matter what" speech.
i was hoping this would be the end of it. after all, i had stopped them, talked to them, and sent them to opposite sides of the room. surely peace would ensue.
yeah. not in the middle east, and not during music time either. i walked to the back of the room and turned around just in time to see mitchell shove john. i couldn't believe it! it hadn't even been 30 seconds!! hadn't he heard anything i had said?!?!
i started toward the boys when i saw mitchell put both his hands on john's shoulders, look him straight in the eyes, and in his high pitched four year old voice say, "just walk away. just walk away."
i guess he had heard me--at least when i was talking to adam . . .