Every day from 12 to 12:45 I meet with my lunch club. This is possibly the craziest 45 minutes I have ever experienced in my life, and every day I make a mental note to change my schedule, cancel the group, and save my sanity. Then I go home, replay the events, laugh, take a deep breathe, and convince myself it is actually a great experience. And then I thank God that I do not teach a self-contained class where this is the norm.
The club's membership varies between 6 students. It is mainly kindergartners, one set of twin boys, two other kindergarten boys, one kindergarten girl, and one first grade boy. Each is on my case load and comes with his or her own set of excitement and energy.
There have been days where lunch club goes smoothly. We read books. We chat about life. We review our table manners. We retell stories with beginning, middle, and end. We discuss rules for our group (1. Wait, listen, then talk. 2. Use a quiet voice) We check out the frog.
Other days, not so much.
One of our goals is to use the bathroom when we need to go so before we have lunch I make everyone go to the bathroom to prevent accidents. In kindergarten they are accustomed to having bathrooms in their classrooms but in my office we have to use the third grade bathroom next door. Sometimes there are third graders there. Sometimes this is very, very bad.
Last week one of my excited kiddos comes RUNNING out of the bathroom. (He only has to go 2 feet but since he is running at a full pace his feet skid on the floor as he hops past me, and has to turn around, skidding again. It takes a few tries before he hops directly in front of me. We're still learning how to control our bodies) "Mrs. Lipstick! Mrs. Lipstick, do you know what your Angel said? He said he's going to kick my A** all over the school! My A**" His twin pops out of the bathroom in much the same manner and the two bop up and down in front of me. "My A**" (Luckily they are difficult to understand since there are third graders lined up to use the bathroom. Two classes, plus their teachers and interns, staring at me and my kiddo screaming A**.) So I storm into the bathroom, announcing to the third grade boys that I'm coming in. There is lots of scrambling and excitement about a teacher entering the boys bathroom. And then I see my Angel, standing there with his arms crossed, holding court. The third grade boys see me and come running. "He said he's going to get our butts kicked out of school!" they yell at me, pointing at my tiny little angel who I have never seen do anything wrong since he entered our school. I take a deep breathe and prepare for my lecture of doom. I put on my Miss Viola Swamp no-nonsense face and prepare to let Angel have it. (Frankly, he's lucky the third graders didn't decide to jump him before I was summoned).
"ANGEL!" I begin when a third grader with autism jumps out from the stall.
"Hey! Kid! Is you're name Angel? My name is Angel! Hey! Is your name Angel? My name is Angel! Hey!" he shouts excitedly.
I love kids with autism. Trying not to crack a smile (and failing miserably) I take in the scene: the disgruntled defendant, my angry kiddo who was threatened, and his twin brother who is out to defend his honor, my little girl who missed all of the fun so is trying to run into the boys bathroom and find out what's wrong, and the teeny tiny kiddo in the group who is standing there with his arms crossed just like me, looking down his nose and giving my Angel the Viola-Swamp lecture for me. Since he's taking care of it I bury my head into my arm and laugh. hard.
Taking a deep breath I lead my posse back into my room and close the door to solve the issue in private.
and that is just the first five minutes of lunch club.