At the holiday programme the kids like to play war “lots of war… raaaaa” and we let them. It looks like chaos, lots of kids running around with long bamboo sticks and a few with bows and arrows all pointed at people with the accompanying loud roars. Hardly anyone gets hurt, and none badly. We do discuss at our morning briefing that our “rule” Respect yourself and others” means you have to know where both ends of your sick are, the kids usually bring it up and I’m not sure if it’s because they see the logic or it’s somehow funny. I worry sometimes when new kids arrive with their parents and the old hats are shouting about war, raiding bases and swinging their ‘num chucks’. I now know that num chucks are two shortish bits of bamboo tied together with a length of string.
This holiday programme we had one day go a bit bad where the proportion of big kids who already knew each other was high and it ended up them against one little kid, who was totally up for it and seemed oblivious to the imbalance of power/strength. I’d already had to point out to the big kids, who should have known, that excluding people from your game often leads to the excluded kid doubling their annoyingness effort. In the end it was too much for me and I intervened, probably shouldn’t have but it was too ‘Lord of the Flies’ish. I got some of the kids to stand where the little kid was and see what he saw. It dissipated pretty quick. But the day had kinda gone off. Later the big kids came to complain about two 5 year olds having ransacked their base (which took 10mins to fix). So one of the 5 year olds and me went to check it out and to see the afflicted, the other 5 year old said they weren’t saying sorry and stormed off. I then find out that one of the big kids had completely trashed the little kids base to a point that it would take hours to rebuild. The big kids had worked out a social rule “Those who get in first (or make the loudest complaint) win”. Somewhat related to the biggest mouth, or the one who complains the most about being interrupted, controls the dialogue. I’ve seen this adults do this.. I went from so impressed that a tiny little 5 year old would shake hands to being also impressed with the kid who refused to come.
One of the big kids (one of the non neuro typical kids) must have found all this discord too much as they started down the path to a meltdown, luckly it was the end of the day. However when this non neuro typical child came back two days later they started the war with a discussion. The kids who wanted a war stood around in a circle discussing the conditions under which each wepon could be used, how you knew if you were dead and what you were supposed to do to show you were dead, and how to recover to be back in the game. This round table discussion was conducted in a very civilised manner, everyone got to talk, no one talked over each other… all for the goal of no one actually getting hurt. They even had a adjudicator from the child UN (I can’t remember the words they used I was too busy seeing the ‘real world’ applications).
Children are so impressive – identifying a problem, working out how to mitigate it, thinking about all the people, and carrying their plan out. We can learn so much from them. Kids who are non neuro typical shine at the holiday programme where the rules are few and logical, where there is space and they seem to be a good barometer for dischord, they seem to feel the thing I can sometimes feel but not put my finger on.
The accessories of war – a sword shop… you need skills to make swords!
My darling’s armory made it all the way home, by ferry, bus and car, but I know she was not the only one who took her armory proudly home.
Just found this from Teacher Tom, I’m not the only one agonizing over interfering in the ways of children that I don’t always understand.