I'm still adjusting to my afternoon shift in the preschool at the shelter, where about half my time is calming kids down so they can take naps and not bother the others who've already made it to sleep.
It's probably good self-training.
Anyway, the routine involves children on blue mesh cots with soft blankies in the classroom with the lights lowered and soothing music playing. For quite some time, we'd been listening to a mix tape heavy on the classical, like Pachelbel's Canon. (Think "Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce...") Today was more folkie.
More typically, we are giving back rubs—or as a boy asked me today, "will you pet me?"—to kids who request them. It's quiet, one-on-one time when we're not supposed to be talking, but sometimes conversation is called for.
My first charge went from disruptive to zonked quite quickly. I then moved over to a boy I've mentioned before who, unknown to me, had gotten in trouble that morning for aggressive behavior. He lay pensively on his back, staring at the ceiling. He'd asked me to rub his stomach.
"I don't know when I'm going home," he said.
"Does that worry you?" I asked. (I should have said, "How does that make you feel?")
"Well, you will. And right now, because you're here, I get to see you, and that's good. That makes me happy."
Of course, that was easy to say. I got to go home at 4:45.
The dinner selections I'd prepared for last week were taped to the cabinets. Here are some of the menus, from straightforward picnic fare (brats, pizza, peppers and ice cream) to multi-course feasts (hamburger, steak, pork chops, pasta, pizza, soup, waffles, lettuce and baby cut carrots, and honey.)