Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I had forgotten what a complete universe your life is when you are a kid. The present is all-important, you are constantly mid-adventure, and you have little time for logic. "Yes, I threw the ball at him first, but can't you understand how completely terrible it is to my life that he threw the ball at me? This crime has to be dealt with now, I do not care about the greater scene of fairness, or a punishment that you say might occur tomorrow, tomorrow is too far outside of my world. I want justice now!" Canadian kids fight so much! And they hate games! And they are such cheaters! And then they fight about who cheated! Maybe it was the deep-seeded element of competition, but kids in Ecuador were way better at grasping the rules of a game, and participating enthusiastically. Here, one girl wants to sit on the ground and moan, one wants to make bracelets, a group of boys want to see how often they can throw stuff at each other before they get stopped by a counselor, and how violently, and the rest are just trying to cheat. Actually, that is not true, the kids that speak English as a second language are total dears, participate readily in all planned activities, solve disputes among themselves, don't tattle or lie, and don't steal beads from the camp bin. And they don't scream (yet). I sat watching them all on the playground today, trying to remind myself what adults can do to totally captivate children, and make them thrilled to do what you want them to do. Is it a quality that is just innate, some have it and some don't? Or is it a way of talking, is there a secret look you can adopt. I tried to remember what the adults I was gaga over had in common. Also, I tried to figure out how to explain that games are fun when rules are followed. Breaking a rule ruins the whole imaginary universe you enter in to. You spoil the fantasy. I hate it when one kid spoils things for a whole group. As I said before, it is difficult to bring this point up with them and explain that they are not the centre of the universe. At that age, you are. But it is good work, good learning, good efforts. I think if I ever discover how to be one of those magical adults then the whole summer will be worth it. It boils down to the desire to mean something to them. To make something better for them, to allow them a different perspective.