Friday, June 18, 2010
Your Tears Are The Source Of My Powers
So today marked our first field trip, a little jaunt down to Ice Palace for some ice skating (in Hawaii of all places, during summer, I know). After 2 years in the frigid wastelands of south-eastern Connecticut, I held little fear of the Palace of Ice. I had no need of such silly things as jackets, or sleeves. I troubled not with long pants. T-shirt and shorts. It is Hawaii after all. Some of the kids disagreed with how much clothes you needed. Some came decked out in full snow gear.
I think the last time I went skating, I was probably around these kids' ages, making it at least 8-10 years since I've stepped on the ice. I think this extended exile from skating allowed whatever skills I had fostered to grow and take shape, much like a fine bottle of rotting juice that people insist on paying an arm and a leg for. I wasn't bad. I could move around pretty quickly. I am amazed, however, at how good some of these kids are. I mean, there's only one place on the island that you can ice skate, and it's not exactly cheap. But, I have been finding that kids are pretty sharp and can pick up on things very quickly if they choose to. But only if they choose to.
Seeing really little kids skate is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. The skating rink is split into two sections, a learner section and a general section. In the learner section, there's ropes and flags, and these metal walker things beginners use to stand up on the ice. Our little kids clung on to these for dear life. White knuckle grips that refused to let go. That is until I skated by. At school, a lot of the little kids like to wave to me and say hi whenever they see me. Things did not change at Ice Palace. However, at Ice Palace, when they relinquished the one waving hand, they would instantly lose their balance and topple over on the ice. As a good scientist, I had to see if I could replicate the results. After 3 or 4 passes (give or take a factor of ten) I felt comfortable assigning causality to their spills. They really do love me.
Ice Palace has one of the trickiest concession stands I've ever seen. The food tastes like crap, but that isn't a problem, since everyone always buy the hot chocolate. No matter what else your stomach may crave, you will undoubtedly buy a hot chocolate. You will also, without fail, burn your tongue after that first sip, searing your taste buds into submission for the greasy cardboard they serve as pizza.
The Tale of T-----: Your Salty Tears Taste Oh So Sweet
So it wouldn't be work if all I had to do was babysit. No, that would be much, much too easy on my mental facilities. Rather, the universe enjoys throwing stress and drama my way just to see me stagger. We were there for 2.5 hours, give or take, giving the kids plenty of time to skate and eat to their heart's content. And when you are trying to shuttle, chaperone, and corral 90 something kids, time management is key (particularly if you're trying to avoid rush hour traffic. Almost beat it, but alas, that would be too easy). Thus, 20 minutes before we need to leave and be on the road, is not the time to ask me if you can stand in the long concession line and buy something. It's also not the time to poke, prod, and scream at me. This makes me frustrated and uncooperative. That's why T----- got what was coming to her.
This girl has been giving me problems since day one. Mouthing off to me, purposefully disregarding my directions, and encouraging her classmates to do the same. At Ice Palace, none of this changed. 20 minutes before we're supposed to leave, I wanted everyone to just sit and wait for the buses, as per my orders from the supervisor in charge. They specifically told me, don't let them buy anything as we're leaving, it will slow everything down. So I followed my orders. I told T----- "no, you can't buy anything, we're going to leave, there's no time." For 30 minutes, I repeated "you had 2 and a half hours to buy things, right before we leave is not the time to do so. Sit down." Screaming and shouting ensued over how unfair I was. I started to get frustrated. Any stress relief from gliding across the ice, whipped away in a matter of minutes. Finally, the buses came, and I ushered them aboard.
Right as we're pulling out of the driveway, about 30 min since the time they were told to get ready, grab their stuff, and make sure they weren't leaving anything behind, T----- tells me "I forgot my gloves." We're pulling on to the road. I told her "Too bad. We're leaving right now. I can't make 89 other kids wait because you were playing around and bothering me while you were supposed to be getting ready. Sorry, but you're just going to have to forget about it, or go on your own to find it. They're just things. Deal with it." I could see she was unhappy, but there was simply nothing I could do about her personal irresponsibility. These are lessons everyone must learn at some point. As I turned around to face the front of the bus, I became aware of distressed sobbing in the background. Which quickly grew into tantrum-esque bawling, complete with moaning and that choking sound you make when you cry. It was like I had killed her entire family and made her watch. But I wasn't distressed by her weeping. After all the crap she had given me for the last three weeks, and especially today, I was glad she was finally bearing the consequences of her actions. For the half hour bus ride, I listened to her cry. Not once did I look at her, as I knew she was crying just to get a rise out of me. I could tell that half way through the bus ride she was no longer actually crying, but pretending, just for me.
I could tell some of the other kids were buying into T-----'s crap. They kept telling me she was crying, and I explained to them why there was nothing I could do. But I also told them, "She'll stop crying. They're just things. Were the gloves made of solid gold? No, they can be replaced. Does she need them to live? No, it's Hawaii, you only ever need gloves at Ice Palace. Good, they'll be waiting there for her when she goes next time."
When we got back to school, I had to still teach one more class: the D group. My group. T-----'s group. When we got back to class, she was fine. As if nothing had happened. She went right on back to being her annoying, bitchy self. I had them play a forensic science game where I gave them 4 white powders (salt, sugar, flour, and baking soda) and they had to develop tests to distinguish the 4 from each other. In the end I gave them a mystery powder (one of the 4) and they had to determine which it was. As per her usual self, T----- refused to join the group when they were working, opting instead to chase other people around the classroom, and break my things. Status quo, antebellum. As if the ordeal had hardly happened. But this little vein popping out of my neck begs to differ on the veracity of T-----'s crying game.