Sunday, July 13, 2008

My week with the preschoolers: days 2 - 5

The next morning we were more ready (not completely ready) for the preschoolers. We brought:

- 2 picnic blankets
- a jug of ice water
- 2 large play balls
- numerous picture books
- paper bags for making puppets
- a box of crackers
- paper cups
- a tablecloth

The grass was still wet so we could not spread out the blankets right away. Once again we started the kids off with art. We'd found beads and lanyard and let them string. The 3 Girl Scouts appeared again and got to work.

Oh, I also had put together a schedule. I knew preschoolers (they all went to school) had schedules. And, having spent the time making one ensured that it would get changed because I also found out the camp had a schedule. A nice volunteer smuggled me a copy. The Scout dens moved from one activity to another. Couldn't some of my little ones do some of these?

I found the camp organizer hiding in some trees sneaking a cigarette (tsk tsk). He seemed stunned by the thought of having the little kids participate in some of the activities. But he was up for it. He told me which dens were small enough that we could join up with. I also learned that each day after lunchtime there was some kind of "program" that we could all watch. Hence, the firefighters the day before.

So I went back and added "magic class," "craft," and "magic show" to my schedule. Then I saw it was story time, so I spread out the blanket in the sun on the nearly-dry grass and called them together. Most of them were eager for a story but Terror Girl said she would not listen. "OK, don't listen, but let the others who want to hear the story." "NO! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!" She sat and sulked at the table till the kids started listening to the story then came over to heckle - I mean ask what was going on. One of the Girl Scouts moved her back to her sulking table and eventually she came over quietly.

We had a snack then went to the magic lesson - which was way over their heads but who cares, they were quiet - then went on another hike in the woods. As we passed the path to the creek they all begged to go down, but we stayed on the path and boy were we lucky 'cause there was all sorts of scat to see along the way. Nothing excites kids on a hike more than poop. Then it was lunch time - truly lunch time - and time for the magic show.

This was better than the magic lesson though Terror Girl kept asking when there'd be a rabbit. That's when she wasn't showing me her bloody spots and asking to go to the nurse. I realized that when she was bored or just needed attention she picked at her little cuts to make them bleed again. Before she got too demanding, though, the magician produced a rabbit! This was his finale and he invited the kids to come up and pet him.

While we waited and I explained endlessly that we would get our turn, I had to demonstrate the "two-finger pat" over and over. I could really picture Terror Girl manhandling that rabbit. She ended up pulling away from me and getting to the rabbit first in our group and then cried and complained "I never got to pet him" when I moved her along.

Oh! Speaking of complaining, we got a flagpole so we were able to take our flag with us just like the scouts. So you know what that meant: "Can I carry the flag?" "It's my turn! It's my turn!" "I NEVER get to carry the flag!" "HE HIT ME WITH THE FLAG!" I had painful flashbacks to a trip to Circus Circus in Vegas many years ago with 4 of my (young) nieces and nephews, when I had to carry a little notebook to keep track of whose turn it was to press the elevator button.

After the magic show I lost my 3 Girl Scout helpers. They had warned me there were going to be "rotated" and hoped to go work in the fishing area. I wished them well even though I didn't mean it. At the end of the day I saw one of them walking dejectedly along and found out that rather than being assigned to fishing, they'd been dispatched to assist with one of the larger and more unruly dens. Should have stayed with me!

But it didn't matter because we were settling into a routine and my two "scout siblings" - my girl and another - were proving to be good helpers.

At the end of the day my husband and our dog came to pick us up. The kids loved our Max (and he loved them). Then Terror Girl's brother (one of the Scouts) came over to check out the dog and decided to try to get him to bite a hard rubber ball. My Scout told him not to do that and the boy replied "No, it's OK." No, it's not OK, it's not your dog! Oh, OK the whole family is this way. As I said goodbye to Terror Girl after taking her back to her mom, she looked at me with a stern face and narrowed eyes and said imperiously, "You'd better bring that dog back tomorrow!"

We made it through day 2.

The rest of the week flowed pretty much the same way. We had another sudden thunderstorm, but this time I was prepared with things more organized in the tent and my cellphone attached to my body so my husband could keep me up to date on the forecast. Thank God for the radar on the NWS site. We went to our activities, made a birdhouse, a flubber ball, lots of paper bag puppets, and even got to fish one day. The flag-carrying stopped being a big deal (of course) and the nature hikes were mostly fun. Terror Girl would always complain when we had to turn around (there were no loops in this park) and told me I was wrong when I said we had to be sure no one would get too tired to walk back. Then a minute later she'd complain of being too tired to walk back and asked to be carried.

The last day got was a bit tricky because it was water gun day. I'm sorry, gun is a bad word, water shooter day. One boy loved to spray people but would not be sprayed in return. There was a lot of crying and complaining but by then I was finding it easier to just put my mind in a happy place and ignore it all, watching just enough to be sure no one drowned in the little pool or hit anyone too hard with the water shooter.

Just before it was time to close up shop someone dropped off our certificates and badges. My girl got an honorary "den chief" award for helping me. She was thrilled.

They all cried when it was time to go home. The organizer asked me if I'd do it again next year. I learned that in previous years this group was not included in any activities at all. The moms were thrilled that their little ones had gotten to do so many fun things. They heaped praise on me for doing such a good job. How could I tell them I got them into the activities for my own survival, not for their enrichment?

Oh, my Scout had a great time! I barely saw him, other than running back and forth from one activity to another. He solidified relationships with some of his den-mates, learned some skills and is ready to be a den chief next year. My girl also said he'd love to volunteer next year as a Girl Scout. I'll be happy to drop them off!


edwardherda said...

Back in my "playing with kids for work" days, I had the awesome opportunity to work with some preschool kids. One thing that I did for snack time was carrots (you know, the ones with the greens still attached). In the beginning of the day I had the little ones make some bunny masks — the cut-out kind — and planted the carrots in some soil. Later in the day, like good bunnies, we hopped on over (with masks), and to their surprise, they were able to uproot their own snack for the day. Of course we cleaned them. But, was a fun moment. So, yeah. I tried to create themes like this every day and it seemed to work well — all learnings of the day were tied together with the day's theme.

SmallWorld said...

Sounds like an exhausting week--but at least your little guy had fun!
Thanks for visiting my new home.

Marbel said...

Ed, I bet you were a fun teacher!

edwardherda said...

They called me Crazy Eddie ;) Yeah, I had a fun time with it — some day, I'll be back.

Ami said...

Wow, what an experience!

And yeah, there's a terror in every crowd. At least one. It's particularly frightening when there are several of them. They band together and can be a real pain in the butt.

If you don't sign up next year, what do you want to bet that someone will call and invite you?