*Full Disclosure Alert! This post was held for clarity and the post script near the end. It will accompany May the Fourth special Star Wars edition of the WPG, as well as our newest podcast.*
‘Instead of getting fed up with everything, go find something to do and do it!’
After finishing my latest tear drying session and breaking my own rule of giving advice, I walked outside to see another battle raging. As is my role at this point in the game, I pull out my phone and hit record. I will later explain to the kids that the smirk on my face during these moments is my own defense mechanism acknowledging the absurdity of a teacher recording an emotional child. It makes me laugh when I realize how consciously I have to resist hugging them, and if I’m honest, it’s a decent strategy for breaking the tension as well. (Let’s keep that between us) Luckily, Miss Stella is here to observe, and the kids get the warmth they are craving in her, and a combination of our strategies seem to get things back on track. Then I come back inside to find another storm brewing. And then I look out our window only to find someone walking the courtyard alone, debating a ghost and flailing like Beethoven in his later years. Needless to say, we called ‘time’ a few minutes early in order to come in and wrap up our Friday on a calm, positive note. I explained to the kids how natural a day like this is; that a dip in productivity combined with a rise in frustration is a recipe for wet cheeks. And I explained that these are the days Coach Joe calls Click Days, when a wonderful realization washes over the players and they begin to understand just how to be successful at this game. If you could only have seen it from my perspective, folks! Within about 10 words I saw world record-breaking eye rolls. The room was instantly filled with cynical scoffs and raised brows, all reminiscent of Costanza in his prime. That said, we cracked a few jokes, took a few deep breaths, and even did a quick five-minute mindfulness activity. And by the time we finished up, they were in pretty decent spirits.
In the days between The Dip and this post, I have reflected personally with more than one of the players. It’s been reassuring, to say the least, to hear of their plans to resolve these new crises and get the game back on track. Here are just a few quotes since that fateful day:
‘The game is hard enough without fighting all the time.’
‘I talked to the UN and apologized, so they forgave me and will sign my stuff again. Plus I talked to my president and we’re ok now too.’
‘We’re not solving anything fighting about this.’
Here’s to this game and all the messy awkwardness that comes with it. Here’s to restraining my need to coach or comfort. Here’s to these standing up after being knocked down. I’m looking forward to the next game with gusto! After a couple days off, of course…