Christopher came into group today ready to charge into battle, literally and figuratively. His school’s principal had issued the following “fiat”: The “green equipment” on his school’s playground was a no-fly zone. Sixth-grade students were caught engaging in inappropriate touching in the slide tunnel. Christopher, a fifth grader and the rest of his school, were now banned from this play area because teachers could not reliably supervise this area. Christopher wished the sixth-grade students had “never taken a breath”. He could not for the life of him figure out why everyone was banned, not just the traitors. Nor could he figure out why those kids would do THAT in the first place. Plus, Christopher argued, the tongue-lashing for the sixth-graders was enough to teach the lesson for everyone.
Christopher’s plan: A formal protest. With signs, and marching, and shouting, and refusals. Everyone has that right, right? The back-up plan: Storm the equipment during recess and sit-on (not sit-in!) until the principal allowed the students to play on the equipment again.
There was SO much to discuss about this issue — consequences, social outcomes, why the group was punished in the first place, etc. — but we spent most of time problem-solving. One of the boys, who is historically prone to ideas that are impossible and tangential, started off with that a classic pie-in-the-sky idea. Christopher became upset, holding back tears by turning and looking out the window. Shane and I addressed the effects of his far-fetched ideas, when Shane had “another” idea. He always does. I watched Christopher tense, warned Shane about how tenuous our situation was, and made a leap of faith.
“Paint the ‘green equipment’ blue and the other equipment ‘green’.”
Shane’s solution completely broke the ice that had frozen Christopher’s brain. We laughed so hard we shed joyous tears and began an amazing brainstorming session. Christopher had decided to play “near” the equipment, rather taking it apart to play “with” the equipment (another Shane classic) when he shouted: “I know what to do! I’ll bring my football from home and we can play catch.”
We decided that we’d get our paint brushes ready as a back-up.