And it started out to be such a good day. *sigh*
Everyone did their homework with a minimum of fuss, I got to work one-on-one with a few students who really needed the help without running around like a headless chicken putting out fires. We had a drop-in visit from a potential funder whose depth of pockets are rumored to match her depth of commitment to helping children – and the kids were almost unnaturally well-behaved and poster-child-like in their studies while she was there (to the extent uncoached kids can be – we didn’t know she was coming, so we hadn’t “prepared” them.) It was nice out and we all went out to play or paint after homework got done. Puzzles and riddles were gleefully solved.
It was a good day. Right up until the end.
A couple of our kids have some sort of simmering-just-below-the-surface animosity going on (and at least one of the participants has a history of provoking others and playing Little Miss Innocent I’m Just Defending Myself). And once they got out the door, all hell broke loose.
Snarky asides were snarked. Mamas were described in unflattering terms. Threats were threatened and fronts were fronted. Hips were thrust, arms were akimboed and heads were waggled back and forth. And, of course, the rest of the kids had to hang around egging them on, gleefully willing to make like a pack of midget Don Kings for the chance at a little pay-per-view throwdown of their own.
In the end, we ended up having to separate them and walk them home separately to keep the from going after one another.
Crap. Dunno what we’re going to do. Probably have to separate them by days. Luckily, one has a schedule that takes her out of the club for the better part of two days a week. We’ll probably have to do something like have them alternate days, with the off-scheduled girl just going home instead. Hate to do it, but short of suspending them both, I can’t see much option. Might get the local juvenile conflict resolution/mediation miracle workers out here to see if they can pound out a truce, but knowing the personalities involved they’d better be miracle workers indeed to pull off anything that will hold up longer than the time it takes one of them to mutter snarkisms under her breath.
And it doesn’t help that the parents flat out tell their kids that if someone starts something, they’re supposed to finish it. (At least, that’s what the kids tell us, but we’ve been told from other sources that it’s probably true). Why would you do that? Granted, I wouldn’t want my kid being a doormat and just taking a beating, but there are other ways to handle aggression besides playing dead and playing dumb.
Damn people, work with me here. I’m trying to maintain a safe, secure environment to help these kids succeed and to teach them how not to end up in jail or on the streets like a lot of their current role models, and meanwhile you’re telling them that if someone gets in their face the appropriate reaction is to take them down. Why would parents go out of their way to encourage their kids to engage in behaviors that are dangerous, illegal and stupid, and which are almost certainly going to reinforce in them that violence is the solution to their problems? What the hell are you thinking?
Gah. I hate confrontation. Makes me all itchy.
One thing is for sure – neither of them is going to get to go on the field trip to Biltmore Saturday. I am not fighting this battle up and down the halls of the world’s “biggest and bestest” uber-monument to elegance, refinement and civilized deportment.