Well, I survived day one of Vacation Bible School. The kids weren't bad. They don't seem to be vicious at all. They're just LOUD. At least, the boys are. They don't seem to have any volume control whatsoever. We don't spend a lot of time in our classroom, since we're usually going from one activity station to another, but the room we're in is all hard surfaces, and then there's this almost chimney-like construction going up to a skylight, which seems to create a sound echo chamber. It's like having 16 kids in the shower. I have an autistic girl in the class, and she was getting pretty agitated about all the noise. I was like, "Oh, you and me both, honey." So I think the rest of the week we'll have our "reflection time" outside. That way, the boys can yell as much as they want and the sound will dissipate into the atmosphere instead of bouncing around the room.
One thing I found interesting was the way the kids segregated themselves by gender. The boys clumped together and the girls clumped together, and there was no crossover except for this one boy who has a twin sister in the class, and he seemed torn between sticking with her and hanging with the boys. He got promptly booted from the girls' group so the high school girl who's helping with the class could sit with the girls, who were all fighting over who got to sit with her. I can't say I entirely blame the girls for being wary about the boys because those boys really were loud and bouncing off the walls. The girls kept flinching from all the noise.
I found the gender segregation interesting because when I was in fifth grade, my best friend was a boy, and I mostly hung out with the boys. I suspect that mostly had to do with the fact that at that age I was utterly OBSESSED with Star Wars, and if I wanted to spend recess running around the corridors of the Death Star, having space battles on the swings or having lightsaber duels or even just having intense discussions about what would happen in the sequel (this was after the original movie but still a couple of years before The Empire Strikes Back), I had to hang with the boys. I can't even remember any of the girls from my fifth-grade class, but I can remember several of the boys' names. The nice thing about being the only girl playing Star Wars with a bunch of boys was that I always got to be Princess Leia with no arguments.
We also got a gender separation in the outdoor activity time. They were playing a variation of "Duck, Duck, Goose" that involved water. The person who was "it" would hit everyone on the head with a big, wet sponge, but when he got to the "goose" one, he was to squeeze the sponge and really soak the person. I use the masculine pronoun because almost all of the girls in my class refused to participate because they didn't want to get wet. They just sat under a tree and talked. I couldn't really blame them because it would have been uncomfortable being wet afterward, and it would have been cold because they were really air conditioning the building. When I was little, I know I refused to do a few things like that because I didn't want to get wet or dirty or messy. By fifth grade, though, I suspect I would have joined in because that's where the boys were, and I wanted the boys to see me as "cool" and part of the gang. I thought I'd impress them more by being up for that sort of thing. In retrospect, making the guys see me as one of the gang may not have been the most effective strategy. It might not have mattered in fifth grade, but by high school, it might have been better to be seen as a girl instead of as cool as a boy. The boys dated girls who were like girls, not girls who were as cool as the boys.
Quote of the day from this morning: One of the other teachers asked me what ages my kids were, and I said I didn't have any kids. The director was walking by at just that time and said, "She's a saint!" but I thought at first that she'd said, "She's insane!" It's probably good that I didn't get a chance to respond, "Yeah, I'm afraid I am," because that would have come across as rather conceited as a response to what she really said.
Now I'm going to enjoy the silence of the rest of the day and try to get some writing done.