During staff training, we spent a day talking about the various stages of group development: forming, storming, normalling and performing. The idea sounded a bit too theoretical, and I thought there was no way it would play out so well, but it has, and we’re currently storming.
The theory goes a little like this, initially, unsure of the new environment, kids get to know each other and are sizing one another up. Fights are rare during the forming period, as are cliques as there is no established alpha in the group. Behaviour is generally quite good. During the storming phase, you start to see dominant ones take up their role as the docile stand by the wayside or go with the tide. The rate of fighting escalates rapidly as they fight, tensions run high and cliques begin to form. This, so far, totally checks out with my boys. To further add to the madness, we’ve no got an extra kid, and he’s definitely eyeing up that top spot on the food chain.
The hardest part about what’s happening right now, I think, is the lack of gratitude. Now I don’t mean a camper not saying Thankyou when I tie his shoelace for the umpteenth time, although that would be nice too, rather, giving them chance after chance, and spending hours comforting them with their own problems, for them to throw it back in your face as they enter yet another fight.
I’ve never totally lost it with a kid, and I’m utterly ashamed to have raised my voice in such a manner, but I’ve had to do it at least two times in the last three days, all involving really serious fights between the four usual suspects after which I literally had to take five to cool off. It almost seems impossible, as the instant you diffuse one time bomb, three spring up in its place, all 3ft tall and running in opposite directions! This means that we never actually have time to spend enjoying ourselves with the well behaved campers who want to be here, as it’s all burned on brawlers or sulkers. And the sour cherry of this morose muffin is that they feel unappreciated and undervalued, causing them to resort to that same petulance as it’s the only thing that seems to garner our attention.
There have been a few rays of sunshine during the metaphorical (and literal) storms of late. The two that constantly behave well are lovely, and I treasure the precious few activities were I get to work with them because they’re actually enjoyable!