For me, the hardest part of this job is disciplining.
It is really hard thing to navigate. I have to get a child to calm down, understand what they did wrong, deliver a consequence if needed and, eventually, send them back into the group.
Sometimes it works perfectly. I tell a kid to stop shouting and they stop. Other times I tell a kid to go sit and take a chill pill and they tell me they hate CHAT and they’re going home.
Sometimes when they have the latter response I want to laugh. In my head I think, “You’re really going to walk from King’s Dominion to Creighton court? Fine, be my guest,” or something like, “Why are you so mad? I just wanted you to throw your trash away.”
Children are these terribly delicate creatures that are a slave to their perspective. It’s all about how they see things.
More than once have I had to talk to a kid that’s been accidentally hit by another and in response they try to start a fight. Some people may chalk this up to the failings of the kid’s parents or because of their impoverished background. And for sure that plays a part.
But kids are kids everywhere and learning to look outside of one’s perspective is a part of growing up.
In my head I have so many techniques to use when a kid does something wrong. For example, if a child does something minor I may go with the fun approach, I’ll try to make them laugh to defuse the tension and after they’ve calmed down I’ll give a quick encouragement and send them off. If they are being rude to fellow students, I’ll make them sit by themselves for a short while and then I’ll go and talk to them and get their side of the story before I give whatever encouragement, chastisement and consequence I deem appropriate. But despite my plethora of techniques, every situation and kid is different and so my results are often varied. Heck, sometimes the results are so bad I become childish and I think, “Forget this I’m walking home.”
Despite the difficulty I see golden moments of discipline paying off. A child will curse, catch my eye and say, “I know. I’m sorry,” and will proceed to do ten pushups as a consequence. Or they’ll hear a friend bullying another kid and they’ll say, “Stop picking on that boy/girl.”
And eventually it gets to the point where specific kids outgrow their problems.
They stop trying to fight every kid or push back against authority. And sometimes, in my pride, I think, “Hey look at what my discipline and love has produced.” And sure my love plays it part in it but mainly it is just them growing up.
It’s them learning to engage in productive and difficult conversations, learning to sympathize, learning to be grateful and learning to forgive.
My job/mission is to give them a place for open discourse that allows them to engage with morality and knowing that there is a standard but that mistakes can/will be forgiven.
At some point these kids might forget the name ‘Christopher Schofield ’or when they hear it they’ll say, “Oh yeah. I remember him, he had the huge afro right?” And that’s more than fine. I just hope they never forget to keep growing. To keep struggling to conquer their faults, improve their weaknesses and resist their temptations.
The adults in my life are always happy to hear what I’m doing because they’re happy to see my growth. I can only hope that someday I’ll see my kids attending college and telling me that they’re an English major or that they’re an RA for a dorm or that they’re almost done with a trade school.