Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.



Or how a pack of unruly 4th and 5th grade students kicked my ass...

After spending the weekend without Chris or Kate, both came home Sunday night. Pramas and I passed in the night as he returned from his Bay Area excursion and I fell directly into bed after my Dropkick Murphys show. The next morning I arose at 6:00am to depart for a thrilling couple of days on the beautiful Olympic Penninsula where my daughter's school was sending all of their 4th and 5th Grade students for a week of environmental education with the fine instructors at the Olympic Park Institute.

I'd been to this particular park before for Rob Heinsoo's wedding. His wife was a long-time instructor at OPI and I was very excited that the kids were going to take part in the program. I was randomly assigned to a cabin which turned out to be the same cabin I stayed in at the wedding. That gave me a little chill. Then Kate was randomly assigned to sleep in the room that I slept in. That was a little weird.

I had both a good time and an awful time. On one hand, I couldn't wait to flee (and at times was full of regret for having taken the time off with the Green Ronin Summit looming) and on the other hand I was sorry to be missing some of the experiences, was sad to leave "my" girls, and felt guilty for abandonning the other parents who were so incredibly over-extended even with my help!

The bad: it was completely overwhelming, with the student to parent ratio being something like 15 to 1 (or a terrifying 30 to 1 in the one boys-only cabin!!); the kids did not initially click with or transition well to the program and some of the instructors seemed to be, if I may say, touchy-feely, hippie-dippie white kid environmetalist tree-huggers who condescended to our inner-city, largely minority school and then proceeded to make some very unkind and largely incorrect judgements about our kids; I felt completely out of my element as I'm an introvert who has at most spent a handful of hours on a couple of day-trips or pot-lucks with these kids; the kids completely wore me out both physically and emotionally.

The good: I got to know a lot of Kate's peers and classmates better and came to like several of them very much; I was clearly desperately needed and had a positive impact with the kids; I was able to be an effective advocate for our students to the OPI educators and helped them connect better and have a better experience on both sides; "my" girls did did a fantastic job, followed the rules beautifully, came prepared to learn and were generally just a joy to be around; I was able to see that some of the kids I was the hardest on and the most strict with actually responded very well to the structure I offered and they sought me out as a confidant and mediator.

After I got back to town I ran summit-prep errands for the rest of the afternoon and then met up with Pramas to hear about the cool new project he's just started (as of today). What I expected to be a 30-40 minute drive ended up taking me over 80 minutes, much of that time in bumper to bumper, 5-mph traffic. UGH! So we went out to Umi Sake House for a little tempura battered sushi and a bottle of sake to dull the pain of it all (and toast the new project). Kate gave me a call on the remaining parent's cell-phone to let me know that "my" girls won the clean cabin award tonight. They were SO close last night, I knew they could do it. I'm so proud.

I might have time to write up more details about the last couple of days (including the bomb scare and bomb sniffing dogs at the ferries, my run-in with the class tough-girl, what sorts of things we did for "class", and more) but I'm utterly exhausted right now. I finally got home this afternoon and had only enough time to throw my bags in the house, return the Flexcar, and catch the bus to the airport to pick up the rental van for the Green Ronin Summit. People start arriving for that tomorrow afternoon and there is an amazing amount of work yet to be done to prepare for that.

Now, to unconsciousness!


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