11:00 – 11:50 AM – Little Miss Conan and Mr. Yodeler, both age 5. This class has been pretty bad for the past month or so. Mr. Yodeler’s been very broody for some reason, refusing to speak, play games, or color – generally just not doing anything I say. I’m not totally sure what the trigger is/was. He started out a little hyper, but largely cheerful, and he’s still like that right at the beginning of class. But around five or ten minutes in, something always seems to shut him down. I’m thinking that at some point, something happened during one of the beginning-of-class routine exercises to upset him without me noticing, and now he gets broody whenever we get to that point. So I’ve been trying to switch up the games to break the association, but it only sort of works.
I’ve been asked to make the classes really cheerful and sort of let bad behavior go without scolding the kids, and I’ve been doing so both because of this and because I, uh, am a wuss and don’t like scolding the kids. But Yodeler’s really getting out of hand, so today I decided I was going to have to go hardcore on him. Usually when he walks off and refuses to play a game, I keep at him for a while and then skip his turn and go on to Conan. Today I didn’t do that. The first time he did it I kept at him for four or five minutes, then got up and dragged him over. He got up again, and I got up and dragged him over again. (I had to do this a little with Conan, too, obviously, to keep her from wandering off while I was dealing with him.) This happened again with every new activity, but I kept getting up and dragging him over, until finally he started coming back on his own. And he was actually pretty cheerful when class ended, too!
So I have successfully imposed my will on a five-year-old. I feel hardcore.
(This maneuver doesn’t work on Mr. Weepy because his Mom undercuts it – he just runs out of the classroom to her whenever things don’t go his way, and she makes no attempt to punish him for this. He pretends I’m murdering him when I try to pick him up or pull him, of course. If I could get that ridiculous woman out of the damn building, Mr. Weepy’s class would probably be fine. (It’s really bugging me because one of the other kids in there, Mr. Clown, is really, really bright, and I can’t spend enough time with him because I’ve got to keep Mr. Weepy from hurting himself.))
12:00 – 12:50 – Mee, age 10. Mee is always good, unless Conan is in the room with her, in which cases she is bad. We started a new chapter today, so she hasn’t quite gotten a chance to build up a proper Mee-style battery of insults with the new vocab yet, but she’s figured out how to say, “I’m embarrassed by Conan.”
Mee is the only kid with the patience to sit there and read a whole passage she doesn’t understand all of, and then go over the hard parts – the others her age absolutely refuse to keep going when they run into a word they don’t know, which means I have to keep stopping to explain stuff, and they never get the sense of the passage as a whole.
1:00 – 1:50 – Lunch break. I had ramen, and then went to the grocery and bought small donuts. They turned out to have anko in them, which combination grosses me out.
2:00 – 2:50 – Zuzu (8), Cookie (7), and Princess (6). Zuzu is kind of moody recently, and Princess, who’s always chronically behind the others, missed class last week, which set her even further back. Nonetheless, these guys are still one of my favorite groups. They’re very cheerful and easygoing, they get along really well despite the age differences, and they pay attention. When they don’t understand something they sit and think about it for a second.
This week I invented a brilliant game in which the kids roll a dice and have to balance the resulting number of blocks on their heads. I came up with it for Zip and Zoh’s class, but it was clearly made for these guys – they were giving each other advice on the best ways to balance the blocks and everything. It was adorable.
3:00 – 3:50 – No class. (There used to be a serial skipper in this slot, but she’s now quit entirely. I never actually met her.)
4:00 – 4:50 – Mr. Sleepyhead, age 9. Mr. Sleepyhead was very sleepy (as is common with him) and kept yawning, which obviously made me yawn, too. After realizing this, he began yawning deliberately. I whapped him with the flashcards.
We’re working on the difference between “I want” and “I like” right now. This is difficult for Mr. Sleepyhead because he is in a Rebellious Phase, which requires that he claim to dislike everything. At one point I pointed out his mother to him. She was sitting out in the waiting area, and could hear him perfectly well. “Do you like Mama?”
He considered this. “So-so.”
“She’s going to expose you on a hillside.”
Mr. Sleepyhead’s Rebellious Phase does not make him hostile, like it does with a couple of the other kids – he’s always cheerful and well-behaved, he just has certain things his principles forbid him to say. Also, this week he’s been randomly talking in a spooky whisper. I have been calling him Sadako.
(Mr. Sleepyhead is the owner’s kid. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them talk to each other.)
5:00 – 5:50 – Jerkface (10), Ken’ichi (8), Bonze (8). I kind of suspect Jerkface of having ADD – he talks literally constantly, and though he tends to memorize the vocab and structures quicker than the younger kids, he’s never focused on activities for more than a few minutes at a time. Of course, he could just be a jerk. The stuff that comes out of his mouth bears this theory out. Today he called me scary, Ken’ichi stupid, and the games boring.
He likes wrestling with the other two, particularly Bonze. Today he apparently conceived the desire to pick Bonze up and hold him in his lap. While I sympathize absolutely with this desire – for Bonze is tiny and stoical and adorable – it was somewhat distracting to Bonze, who has a strong sense of his own eight-year-old dignity. So I had to yell at Jerkface. He was not at all repentant.
Ken’ichi was a huge slacker as always, but he’d done his homework for once.
6:00 – 7:00 – No class. This used to be the Broodmaster’s slot. They said they had someone to fill it, but said person apparently changed her mind.