Little One is struggling, and we are struggling right along with her. For about two weeks now, she has gone way backward in terms of her behavior. She comes in sad, or manically happy, which soon veers into tears or yelling. She desperately wants the other girls to like her, but almost seems determined to screw things up in one social situation after another. She doesn’t do it on purpose, of course, it just seems that way.
I realized at breakfast that I know now why we three (my assistant and my Americorps member and me) have been sooo tired lately. It has been 2 or 3 weeks since Little One and Crow have started spiraling out of control. What is normally a really smoothly-running classroom, with all transitions and routines accomplished with ease, is now a place with little brush fires popping up all over the place.
Yesterday at cleanup time, the kids who were done headed over to the meeting area to sit down for story time. The adults weren’t over there yet, but were still helping various groups clean up their centers. Suddenly a little girl I’ll call Blue Jay started to sob, loudly. It turns out the when walking over, Blue Jay accidentally bumped into another girl. Little One took it upon herself to yell in Blue Jay’s face to scold her. Had Little One not intervened in something that was not her business, Blue Jay probably would have followed our classroom script: “I’m sorry, it was an accident. Are you okay?”
Anyway, instead of starting a story, I had a sobbing child in my arms, and Little One angry about being in trouble, again, and stomping away, refusing to rejoin the class. (Although she did say “Sorry” to Blue Jay, because Blue Jay is one of the girls Little One adores and wants to be friends with.)
At another cleanup time recently, the kids in the block corner were being very slow, as usual. Kids who wanted to sit down in the meeting area couldn’t, because it still had blocks strewn around. They are supposed to wait on the side until there is room to sit down. Instead of sitting down in her spot, where there were no more blocks, Little One waded into the crowd to start cleaning up blocks.
“No,” I told her. “You weren’t in blocks, you’re not supposed to put the blocks away. Go sit in your spot.” I admit I didn’t say it in the calmest, most patient voice. My patience is frayed these days.
Little One refused to stop, so I had to say it again, even more firmly this time.
She stomped over to her spot and sat down, and with tears running down her face, said, “I’m mad at you! You’re mad at me!”
(Just to explain, in my room the rule at clean up is you clean up your own center, and when that center is all clean, you come sit down. You don’t go to other centers and clean up; I find that is a delaying tactic and I want all kids to come sit as soon as possible. The Clean Up King or Queen of the week gets to help everyone, and that is considered a very coveted and honored job.)
Meanwhile, Crow is hitting kids, almost every day. Never for any reason. He is confused and seems to be making no progress at all. It is sad and frustrating.