This was a very trying week at the after school program. If it could be summed up with two words, the first would be "yelling" and the second would be "basketball".
See, I run this program for kids who need after school care. I have twenty three of them who fly off the school bus every day and hang out in our centre which is essentially one very large room with a bathroom and a kitchen. When they arrive at 3:30 PM, they haven't eaten since lunch which takes place, mystifyingly, at 11 AM. They've been sitting in desks all day. So naturally, there is a lot of wired, kid-energy flying off the school buses with them.
I am supposedly "in control" of this program. This means I get to decide what's for snack and I help the kids work through their conflicts without killing each other and I have the authority to tell them For the love of God, do not play that Good Charlotte song ANY MORE!
But there are lots of things that just happen at the program that seem to be beyond my control.
Basketballs, for example.
We once had one basketball. Sometimes we would haul out our not-very-tall basketball net and let them shoot hoops in one corner of the room. This spring basketball has become the hottest thing to do if you're a 6-11 year old, so we've had the basketball net out for weeks. What I didn't know was that apparently basketballs are single celled organisms that can reproduce asexually when left overnight in a darkened supply closet. As a result of this binary fission, our current number of basketballs in the program sits at approximately 12. And yes, they use them all at once. There are times when there seem to be more basketballs in the air than there are children on the ground. Miraculously, no one has broken anyone else's nose. I suspect this is because they know that the result of such an injury would certainly be NO. MORE. BASKETBALL.
And the yelling. Oh, the yelling. The elapsed time between a disagreement being recognized and said disagreement erupting into a screaming match seems to be about seven seconds. It usually happens between children, but occasionally the kids do start yelling at us. One child in particular had a very bad week this week and one of his three major tantrums resulted in this exchange.
kid: JEN! STOP HARASSING ME!
me: I'm not harassing you, I'm just talking to you.
kid: THAT'S HARASSING ME! TALKING TO ME IS HARASSING ME!
me: No, that's not true. Shall we look up "harass" in the dictionary so you can see the real meaning of the word?
kid: AAAAAARRRGH!!!! (walls himself into the playhouse by using every pillow we have in the program to block the door.)
He came out later when snack was served.