A few months ago, when we saw that we would, yet again, have a huge number of our students with a deployed parent, the Guidance Goober asked for volunteer teachers to help run a Military Support Group. The idea was to give these kids an after school activity where they could be with other kids who were going through the same sort of thing, give them some fun things to do, and also provide a safe place to vent their fears and frustrations.
So of course Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Language and I signed up to help.
We had our first club meeting on Wednesday. It was a rainy, windy, and dreary day, but a perfect day to bake cookies. We thought it would be fun to bake Christmas cookies for the parents and also for the military unit that has adopted our school. We made gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies, and Mrs. Language brought her box of 100 different cookie cutters. I never realized that there was such a thing as a box of a 100 cookie cutters...which shows you how often I bake.
We had a pretty varied group of kids. We had quite a few sixth graders, plus some seventh graders, and one eighth grader who is also autistic. Our roster will probably expand a bit once we get the bus transportation set up with the transportation department and the kids don't have to be picked up after the club meeting.
One of the seventh graders was Too Kool, a kid who thinks he's too cool for school and who just doesn't want to do anything unless it's his idea. He was on our team originally, but was removed due to conflicts with some other kids on the team. In any case, he definitely didn't want to be there and sat away from the other kids, with his back turned. He decided that making cookies was "lame".
Fifteen minutes later after realizing that (a) there was no one in the room whom he needed to impress with his coolness and (b) that the other kids were having fun while he was sulking, he decided to join in. By the end of the afternoon he was cutting out cookies, cleaning up the pans, and putting on frosting decorations. He smiled, and giggled, and acted like a normal kid (and not a thug) for once.
The kids had a ball. They worked as a team to mix up the gingerbread cookie dough, they made beautiful art with mini M&M's, sprinkles and frosting and they didn't whine and beg to eat most of the cookies. They were awesome.
The best part of the whole afternoon for me was when one of the little sixth grade girls, after decorating a heart-shaped cookie, looked up at me and said, "Wow! I just realized that I've had fun for five whole minutes and forgot that Mom was in Iraq." She beamed.
Just giving those kids a moment of relief and peace is worth its weight in gold.