I’m deep into a phase with this theme:
I don’t want to go to bed, because if I do, the next thing that will happen is I will wake up and have to go to work.
And believe me, rationally I understand that less sleep will actually result in worse days, but in the 10:00 or 11:00 hour, I can’t make myself do it.
Here is the recurring scene:
Me: It’s time for writing. Everyone, get your writing folders and find a spot to work.
(N wanders around, nowhere near his writing folder.)
Me: N, it’s time for writing. What do you want to write about today?
N: I don’t want to.
Me: You could write a book about Star Wars. You picked Star Wars books from the library today. You know a lot about Star Wars. I bet you could make a really good Star Wars book. (Please don’t let this take forever.)
N: I don’t want to. (Wanders away.)
Me: What about your book you were working on about your cousin? Do you want to finish it today? (Just get out your folder. Please, just get out your folder now.)
N: No! (Lies down on the floor.)
Me: (Calm voice. Calm voice. Stay directive.) N, please get your folder.
N: No! (Crawls under a table.)
Me: N, please get your folder. (Seriously, I have six kids to confer with today. Get out from under the table and act like a first grader.)
N: NOOOO! (Shoves a chair toward me.)
Me: N, please get your folder. (Calm voice. Calm voice. I have work to do!!!)
N: NOOOOO! (Throws a crayon at me.) I DON’T WANT TOOOOOO!!!!
Me: Please get your folder, N. (Come on! Other kids, all over this room, doing their work. Me? Sitting here, watching you scream and throw crayons, keeping kids safe instead of doing my work.)
N: (Yells unintelligible syllables and shoves another chair.)
Me: N, you need your folder. (Calm voice. Calm voice. Another freaking day when I won’t get to meet with all the kids I need to meet with. Writing instruction is out the window. Today I’m on crayon-and-chair-blocking duty. Fan-freaking-tastic. Calm voice. Stay regulated, Miss B. He can’t regulate if I don’t.)
N: (Shoves a chair toward a child, more yelling.)
Me: N, you need your folder. Go get it, please. (Oh, look, ten kids are looking at you instead of doing their work. I’m not doing my work, they’re not doing their work, and you’re not doing your work. Is that what you wanted? Of course it is. Congratulations, you get your wish. But you do not get my reaction. Don’t engage. Don’t engage.)
N: (More shoving, more yelling.)
Me: N, please get your folder. (This is taking FOREVER! I have WORK TO DO!!! I just want to YELL AT YOU!!!!!!)
N: (Crawls out from under the table, and under another table.)
Me: N, please get your folder. (Well, at least that table is CLOSER to your cubby. Are you on your way to being regulated? Or are you going to blow up again in a minute? Please be on your way to your folder.)
N: (Crawls out and sits, staring daggers at me.)
Me: Please get your folder, N. (Please be regulated. Please be regulated. Please be regulated.)
N: (Crawls over to his cubby, sits in front of it, and stares at me some more.)
Me: Get your folder, please. (Almost there. Come on. Come on.)
N: (Gets his folder. Throws it across the room.)
Me: N, get your folder please. (Come ON!!! We were SO CLOSE!!! I have WORK TO DO!!!!! You have already taken up 15 minutes of my writing instruction time. I only have 30 minutes LEFT!!!!! You are 1 out of 21, but you’ve taken a third of the time. That’s SEVEN kids’ shares of my time today!!!! Get your BUTT over to your FREAKING folder and pick it UP!!!!!)
N: (Stares daggers.)
Me: N, get your folder please. (Calm voice, calm voice. Please, please, please, just do it.)
N: (Crawls to his folder. Picks it up.)
Me: Thank you. Please get out your writing and start working. (Please, please, please. Do it. Get out your writing. Put a pencil or a crayon in your hand. Write something. Draw the pictures. Scribble all over your folder, for all I care. Just be regulated enough that I can walk away from you. I NEED TO WALK AWAY FROM YOU.)
N: I don’t want to. (Drops his folder.)
Me: (NOOOOOOO!!!!!) Start working, please. (CALM. VOICE. CALM. VOICE.)
I have two kids who replay this scene with varying degrees of drama, volume, and safety concerns SEVERAL times a day on some days, and two or three more kids who engage in some version of this scene occasionally. A lot of days, I’m actually very, very successful at staying regulated myself — in other words, I keep my voice and attitude calm and quiet and nonthreatening. The closer I am to the end of my rope, the quieter I make my voice. The more bad words are inside my head, the more sweet words I force out of my mouth. When I have the urge to snap at someone, I smile instead.
But I’m beginning to wonder if I’m developing an evil smile, like a white-haired, red-lipstick villain. Cruella deVille style. Or Meryl Streep on The Devil Wears Prada. I’m just not that good of a liar.