9 experiences from 9 hours with 19 children

Yesterday, I had the terrifying task honor of watching 19 kids from 8 in the morning till 5 that afternoon. Granted, after lunch my numbers slowly dwindled as kids were picked up by family members until only about seven were left to stay on campus for the weekend. It was an interesting day (and by that, I mean it was interesting to see 1) how many times my patience was tested, 2) how many times I could tell a child the same thing I had told him five minutes ago, and 3) how many times my name was screamed by child A because child B had hit child A).

So, in honor of yesterday’s nine hours, I’d like to share nine things that I did:

  1. Prayed for a special gifting of patience when children were already arguing and pushing each other at breakfast.
  2. Sent a child to the office because she kept hitting the younger children, had an awful attitude, refused to listen to me, and would storm off and yell when she got mad. (I gave her 2-3 hours of time to adjust her attitude, and it just never happened.)
  3. Had five different times where I made two children sit in time-out because they had been fighting. Smiled ruefully because the poor five year old girl got picked on a lot and would retaliate when offended…so she was in time-out several of those times.
  4. Fixed up a little girl’s knees after she fell on the sidewalk when we came back from lunch. Lots of band-aids were used, at her insistence.
  5. Had to convince a five year old boy that telling me he didn’t hit someone when I saw him hit the other kid was not a very successful plan.
  6. Hit a volleyball back and forth with some of the older girls for a while (who of course were almost no trouble throughout the day. Mostly I was dealing with the younger kids when it came to trouble).
  7. Used mats in the gym to help three boys and three girls build two separate forts/clubhouses: one for the boys, one for the girls. Tried to explain to the boys that threeΒ  mats for them and three mats for the girls really was fair.
  8. Freaked myself out when, in deep frustration, I wanted to use a folded-up copy of my time sheet to smack a boy’s shoulder when he continued to yell at me. Immediately wondered if I could be written up/fired for thinking about hitting a child with a piece of paper.
  9. Was ready to burst into tears relieved when 5:00 PM came and I could go home and collapse on my couch.

As you can imagine, many more things happened during that day, but I will stop with that. It’s safe to say I pretty much went home in a vegetated state and did very little else that evening.

Please note that I love these children more than almost anything else, so while I joke about yesterday, I really was glad to be with them. I was just also glad to go home at the end of the day.

Comments from a five year old

I love recording funny quotes from people, and children give the best ones. Here are just a few I’ve accumulated from my few days with the five year old girl I’ve been in charge of. Enjoy.

While she was eating, someone else kept talking. Her comment: “She’s disturbing my chewing!”

When we were going to watch a DVD, she suggested watching it on a laptop. I pointed out we could watch it on the TV. Her comment: “Ooh, then we can see the parts big instead of little. That is a good idea.”

When her mother and grandmother came to visit, her grandmother aimed the camera and said “Say cheese!” Her reply: “Cheese-camera!! ….oops, I said cheese camera!” [Giggles hysterically]

Before her grandmother and mother leave from their visit, she runs to another girl in the house. She says (sternly): “M, my mother and grandmother are here! You need to see them! [Runs back to us as she hears us laughing] This is not funny! It is serious!”

She told me that at breakfast her house father tells her not to stretch at the table. She says: “I tell him, ‘But my bones aren’t awake yet!'”

She wants to call a friend of hers. “What’s his number?” I ask. She tilts her head thoughtfully. Her reply: “2345.” When I inform her that’s probably not his number, she tries counting from 1-10. πŸ™‚

Best of all:
It’s bed time. I go over to get her ready for bed. She raises her hands high until I hug her. She says: “I love you.”

Continued math: now there are 2

6/11: 4 – 1 = 3 girls.

6/12: 3 – 2 = 1 13-yr-old.

6/12: The remaining 1 13-yr-old + 1 set of super-kind house parents = super-happy Katy who has 19 1/2 hours all to herself!

6/13: The remaining 1 13-yr-old + 1 new 5 year old = Katy’s job for the next 56 hours.

Children’s home = more practice at math than I’ve had in a while. (Sad, but true.)

So, all of that math = (I mean, equals) where I am now: I have 2 girls to watch until I get time off. And I am very excited about that time off! Once I found out for sure what my hours would be, once the end was in sight, I literally felt like a load had lifted off me. Last night was especially wonderful because of the afore-mentioned super-kind house parents who agreed to take the 13-yr-old for the evening.

Now, I know the question that is burning in the back of your minds. Katy had 19 1/2 hours with which to do absolutely nothing. What on earth did she do?

I’m so glad you asked. I will tell you:

2:30-5:15 – Watch Disney Channel (yes, really), briefly surf the Internet, and lie on the couch, still watching Disney Channel (yes. really).

5:15-7:30 – Supper with my awesome friend LaShay at Rosa’s. Yes, I totally had three tortillas with nothing but butter and honey.

8:00-11:00 – Randomly surfing through a few tv shows, then concentrated reading time in a new book I got from the library. It’s by one of my favorite authors, Orson Scott Card. I have loved him forever because of his book Ender’s Game, and now I have ventured outside his sci-fi world into the fantasy one. Ladies and gentleman, a possible new favorite book of mine: Enchantment. It is a fascinating, intellectual fairytale-that-clashes-with-the-modern-world story, and I am totally digging it. Not done yet, but I’ll definitely post more of my opinion on this book when I finish it.

11:30 PM – 9:00 AM: SLEEP! I fought it off as long as I could, because I wanted lots of time to read. But I finally gave in, and it was glorious. Also, it was literally the most amount of sleep I have had in two weeks (I had stopped sleeping well, averaging around 6 hours a night as opposed to the 9-10 I need).

And now I’m back to this job I love (a.k.a Preparation to be a Mom 101). The girls and I have had a good day, including lunch at Chick-Fil-A, nap time for the younger girl, and a visit from one of the girls’ moms. Currently, the 13-yr-old is playing with Barbies and the 5-yr-old is listening to Miley Cyrus music videos online (funny how easily they could switch activities and be having just as much fun). I think we may watch a movie a little bit later before bed.

Final piece of math for you: last week + Katy’s time-sheet = the discovery that she worked an 84-hour week. Yes. Really.

I’ll have the two girls for the next few days, and of course I will keep you updated on our adventures.

You’re welcome.

And then there were four

Two girls left today to go home for the 3 week break, so now I’m down to four girls. Things have been going well. My schedule got changed and instead of just working morning/evenings, I get the girls 24/7. It’s good so that way I’m not running back and forth and am here more consistently. The extra hours also help with saving money. The girls continue to do well. For example, we have guests coming by tomorrow so the girls had to make sure the whole house was clean. With only four, it took a little more time. They all pitched in and were a huge help. They even let me sleep because I’m starting to get sick, mostly from exhaustion.

Other than stuff around the house, we are at the pool a good part of the day. We swim two hours in the afternoon and an hour and a half most evenings. It’s fun and gives the kids something to do. I enjoy it too, although I have nice red arms to show for it. πŸ™‚ I burn so easily…sigh. It’s fun, although I always am especially on my guard with all the kids at the pool because I want everyone to be safe and not get hurt. There are so many to keep an eye on, especially the little ones. Ha, I feel like a referee half the time with the younger ones! They fight over goggles and intertubes and all sorts of stuff. Fortunately we have a really good life guard, too. It’s funny though ’cause half our teen girls have a crush on him. πŸ™‚

Let’s see, what else is going on? Hmm. I’ve covered the longer (full-time) hours, what’s going on with the girls, the days at the pool…well I guess most of it has been touched on. I’m sorry this post is kind of boring. I’m a little out of it, so I doubt my writing capabilities are just superb today.

I’m watching Step Up 2 with the girls. (By the way, the last dance sequence in that movie is rockin’ — you should check it out if you haven’t.) It always makes me wish I had taken dance lessons. I wish I could dance like that. I love dancing and always have. I don’t know if a lot of people know that about me, though. I used to choreograph songs and stuff to do at my school, church, functions, etc. I even had a club where I taught girls dances to do and how to work on their own dances. I miss doing that stuff. I should dance more.

What are the things in life you love but don’t do often enough?

Have a great week. I’m gonna finish the movie with my four girls and then go to sleep. I am a huge fan of sleep these days.

And then there were five…wait, six?

Well, I’m still living with and taking care of the girls at the children’s home. Their house dad is still here, but most of the time he is in his apartment with his kids, packing things up since he has move out at the end of the week. So I try to take over most things, but it does take a lot of time to remember everything there is to do. Today, though, two of our older girls left to go home early for their three-week vacation (this is when the kids go home to the family they do have for part of the summer). This means I was down to just five girls to watch after, so I was excited to be able to spend more time focusing on the girls individually. Then, I found out another girl from a different house on our campus is moving in with us for the week, so I’m back up one more girl. It’s not a problem overall, I just want to give each girl the attention they need.

The week’s been good, just very busy. In the mornings/evenings, I’m with the girls. Wednesday-Saturday, I was also attending a training online (joining a training in New England via Skype). It was a really great training about using online tools and networks to help create change. It was definitely very life-changing for me and helped remind me the important things in life to focus on. I also got to meet some awesome people that I’ll be working with some this summer, and we also learned a lot about social media tools. Now I’m not only on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, but I have added Plurk to the mix and have started using Ping to update my statuses. Phew! Of course I’m also on 20 Something Bloggers and have started making a Second Life character.

Yes, my name is Katy, and I may be becoming an internet addict.

Here is my venting for today: I got really frustrated earlier this morning because the girls got picked up at 10:00 to go to a graduation party at a lake for one of the boys here at the Home. So I was excited because I had some time to myself and was going to go to church. Now I absolutely love my church, and it’s a special time to me. I get there and ten minutes into it, my phone starts buzzing my pocket. I answered it. Apparently one of the girls from the other houses needed someone to stay with her, and the staff member who was supposed to be there wasn’t. I asked if anyone else could watch her since I was at church, but of course no one else was available and everyone was ready to go to the lake. So I left church and drove back with the worst attitude. I was so mad that I was the one to have to change my day and come back to fix everything. I even cried for, like, two seconds in the van.

Needless to say I wasn’t happy about it all, but I watched them for an hour until the staff member showed up. I did have several hours to myself after that and even managed a few hours nap. I finally realize that sometimes this just happens in the adult world of being a young professional, and I needed to forgive and move on. I didn’t need to take offense over it or feel “used.” So I choose to get a better attitude and let it go.

The girls got back late tonight, so I had some time to myself. In the morning I have to get the girls up early for pictures the Home is taking. I will probably have part of tomorrow off before coming back in the late afternoon. The younger girls are begging me to let them watch Twilight tomorrow night, so we’ll see.

Alright, I probably should get to bed so I can get up on time. Hopefully I’ll sleep through the night again, since I’ve been struggling with insomnia again the last two weeks. Plus I need all the sleep I can get to deal with these five…er, six girls.

Please pray: house mother died suddenly

I’m asking for your prayers for the children’s home I work at. It houses almost 30 children who, for one reason or another, cannot live at home with their families (neglect, parent in jail, etc). We have about five different houses, two boys houses and three girls houses. Each has 2-8 kids who live with house parents.

Today one of our house mothers died suddenly. She had gone to the hospital yesterday with some flu-like symptoms. She had had some heart problems in the past, and this morning her heart simply gave out. She died at 6:30 am.

Needless to say this was very unexpected. She left behind her husband; they have two sons, one married with a baby. She also left behind the seven girls she is currently a house mother to today, aged 7-16–as well as dozens of other girls she had been a mother-figure to during her 10 years at the children’s home.

I don’t have to tell you how much these girls are hurting right now. The children’s home as a whole–kids, staff, and house parents–are all in shock. Please pray for everyone as we deal with the grief, especially her husband, biological children, and the girls who have become her children. Pray especially for me and the other staff that we will be able to minister to, comfort, and love the girls and other children who will be grieving.

Thank you so much for praying. If you know of others who would pray for this, please share this with them as well.
Thanks again.

This week’s randomness

My mom makes wonderful pumpkin bread that I got to sample last Sunday/Monday. I ate a lot of it. I got to watch some shows with my parents over the weekend like Criminal Minds, Star Trek: Voyager, Cold Case, and JAG.

I have been playing an online skateboard game over and over trying to beat my boyfriend Dan’s high score. So far, I’ve only gotten over 2000 points a dozen times. My highest score: 2507. His is 2755. I’m determined to get there someday. (No, I’m not competitive. I’m just…ok, yeah, maybe competitive is appropriate.)

On Friday, I took a child care training program during which we talked about poverty. We took surveys to see whether we could fit into the poverty, middle-class, and wealth classes. I fit better into the poverty class (fitting 9/18 statements) than the wealth class (1/14 statements). One of the questions on the poverty survey: “You know how to use a knife as scissors.” The only thing I could check on the wealth survey: “You have favorite restaurants in several countries.”

To me, the chocolate Frosty at Wendy’s is the only real Frosty. Vanilla Frosty? No such thing. That’s soft-serve. I got to have a Frosty Saturday night. Made me happy. πŸ˜€ Ooh, and I also had an A&W Root Beer Float today; the first in a long time!

I got to spend the evening on Friday with the Sergeants (fabulous family I’ve babysat for for almost 5 years). I played Wii with the kids. Saturday, Dan came in to visit, and we took the kids out to Mr. Gatti’s. It was fun! I love Ski Ball (aka Ice Ball?). Between the four of us (ten tokens apiece) we got 280+ tickets. The kids split them, got little toys, and left with huge grins. It is fun being a kid. πŸ™‚

Dan and I went to the drive-in last night. Star Trek is one of my new favorite movies. πŸ˜€ Yes, I grew up watching the various Star Trek series with my dad. I loved the latest movie! It made me super happy to see old familiar characters and to glory in the legacy of all that is Star Trek. I totally quoted along at the end: “Space, the final frontier…these are the voyages of the starship Enterprise” all the way till a gleeful “to boldly go where no one has gone before!”

I’m going to try a reader’s response ending: Any random fun facts from your week that you’d like to share? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it!