Monday, July 5, 2010

To Rave or Not to Rave



The votes to celebrate William Shakespeare's birthday with a party instead of a rehearsal came up more "yeas" than "nays." So, we'd gather in our school library and I'd don my flight attendant persona.

Before the kids stormed the room, I dragged tables and chairs together and set a napkin at each place along with a juice box and a bag of Sun Chips. My duties from the time of their arrival to their exit would be collecting garbage, handing out refresher drinks, serving fruit salad and, for a big finish, red velvet cupcakes with fluffy white icing. I would make my rounds approximately sixty-eight times, servicing children as if we were all embarked on a transatlantic flight aboard the Concorde. This is how we do parties in The Shakespeare Club.

In between snacks I played a stream of club members' favorite videos: The Simpsons in London to see "Macbeth," the Simpsons performing their version of "Hamlet," and the Simpsons version of the story of Henry VIII.

Then I held up two big envelopes. One marked INSULTS and the other marked COMPLIMENTS. One by one, each child came forward with sticky, salty fingers and blindly drew a Shakespearean insult, then chose a victim and, using a big voice, told them off Elizabethan-style. This was followed by drawing a name from the
COMPLIMENTS envelope and delivering a kind word to a fellow thespian.

These are usually reduced to "nice shirt."

As we were three-quarters of the way along in our festivities, I overheard a pair of riled-up boys. Drunk on salt and sugar, they were hurling real insults at each other. I stepped into the fray once, twice...turned my back, heard a loud "Baldy!" from Dominick and whipped around to catch Mark's hand slap his enemy's cheek.

Our civilized party was now a rave and I was a lone flight attendant over the Atlantic with intoxicated and violent passengers.

"Stop it! Right now!"

The room froze.

"Dominick, you complain about people calling you names. How do you account for your action, my friend?"

Silence.

"Mark, do we ever, ever hit?"

More silence.

"Boys, we will have a sit-down about this, count on it. In the meantime stay in your seats and the cupcakes will be passing you by."


Two days later I met with the culprits.

"Okay guys, level with me. Just tell me straight up: Do you dislike each other?"

"Well, no, Ms. Ryane," Dominick answered. "We just cross the line sometimes."

"Are you saying you actually do like each other?"

"Yeah, sure, Ms. Ryane, we like each other," Mark offered. "We sometimes just go a little crazy."

"Okay, I get it, but here's the thing: I don't have time in Shakespeare Club to rehearse the play, have parties, and monitor you beating each other up. Also, you are a breaking your mottos of helping and sharing by doing this. So, you've each earned an x."

The boys shared a look. They grimaced but accepted the punishment.

"Now, I want to see a handshake and a promise of no more of this in our meetings."

And so it went. We were, once more, back in flight to God knows where, but we were flying high.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
Power

I want power because I never get listened to at home. I want power so I can stop people from making fun of my weight. I just need power so I tell people what to do.

When ever I get power nobody make fun of me if they know whats good for them. If they do they better be ready to suffer the conquences.
—Mark, 4th grade

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