No cookie for you

In fact, no cookies for anybody, today. It was definitely a no cookie kinda day. Let me explain…

But first, I’d just like to mention that we had a super training at our Friday Morning Meeting today, on strategies and techniques for tutoring and helping with homework provided by Ben Ambrosino, a professional tutor over at Asheville Learning, Inc. Lots of great info, and a superb presentation. We even got to play with Fun Dough while he did his thing, thereby exposing several heretofore unknown sculptural artistes in our group. (So, okay, I guess he can have a cookie. But that’s it. Nobody else.)

After the meeting, the program director and I had The Talk. Yanno. About that whole pissing people off at the conference thing. Apparently, she’s been getting calls about me. Some good. Some not so good. So, in my favor, a reasonable number of people were actually okay with what I said and even thought enough about it to call and let her know. I have a few fans. I even got a blurb on a local newspaper site. On the other hand, she’s been dodging some pooh flung in my direction from some other folks. I have a few angry detractors. On the whole, it seems to be rather precariously balanced and overall everyone would be quite pleased if I did nothing to actually tip the whole mess into the cesspool of dookie over the next few months.

The general consensus seems to be that I went right up to the line, but I didn’t cross it. Good to know. A lot of the comments and feedback were what I already accepted about the event myself – content was accurate, delivery was flawed. I agree. Although I said what I felt needed to be said, I handled it poorly and have made life, if not hell, at least uncomfortably hot for several people who shouldn’t have to be dealing with any more crap than they already do.

So, no cookie for me.

Fast forward to the afternoon. Today was Fun Friday and, since the weather has been rather nice we decided to take them over to a nearby park to play on the fancy playground they have.

At least, that was the plan.

In order for everyone to have a chance to go, we had to wait until about 3:45 for the middle school bus to get there. In the interim, we had the kids working on a poster contest. Unfortunately, this basically meant they were whining about not going to the park right now from the get-go. Then they proceeded to use the craft supplies we put out to make an unholy mess and, when the middle school bus finally arrived, they would not participate in cleaning up. We told them that we weren’t going anywhere until the supplies were cleaned up. Grudging clean up of a half-hearted nature ensued. That ate up at least a good 20 minutes of our park time right there.

Then, once we finally got it all mostly cleaned up, we tried to get them to buddy up for the walk over to the park. We have to cross a reasonably busy street to get there, and buddying up was the only way to make sure they all stayed together. But they wouldn’t even do that. They hung out in clumps of three or four, chattering away and not paying any attention, with a few of them stood off by themselves not wanting to buddy up, until a neighbor poked her head out to see if it was her kids making all that noise and, since she knew some of the kids and their families, managed to get them to buddy up with a few sharply spoken commands. (I consider this a case in point for my argument that community involvement is the only thing that will create success in this program – we have little if any authoritative credibility with these kids for many reasons, not the least of which is that they are all aware the unlike school and home their presence at the homework club is not legally mandated. Therefore they “don’t have to listen” to what we say. Or at least, this is their take. Neighbors and family, on the other hand, can get them to behave with little more than a cocked eyebrow.)

Anyway, finally they buddied up (by now, we’ve lost almost 45 minutes) and away we went. But not even halfway there (it’s barely a few blocks, distance-wise), they’re cutting up and behaving badly and a few were even calling Sarah bad names. She gave them several “one more chance” warnings, but they simply couldn’t hold it together today. So, finally we simply turned around and came home. Of course, they all wanted just one more chance really once they realized we were serious, but by then we’d both just given up. Crossing a busy road and going into a new environment with people from outside the neighborhood, we had to be sure they would listen to and follow directions. They couldn’t even grab a buddy and walk across the development without falling out. No way we could have trusted them to behave in a safe and functional manner crossing a road and playing in a public park.

So, no cookies for them, either.

Basically, no cookies for anyone (except our trainer for the day). Personally, I’ve learned from my mistakes (ie – don’t do public speaking about stuff you’re both passionate and frustrated about when you’re under a great deal of personal stress, even if you feel fine at that moment). Let’s hope the kids can do the same.

Because, darn it, I wanted to go to the park!

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