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I prefer drama

We decorated gingerbread men cookies in class on Wednesday.  I made 19 cookies for 16 kids, but 2 cracked in transit and a 3rd broke as I handed it out, leaving exactly the number I needed intact.  One cookie, however, was much thinner than the others, and when the boy decorating it tried to transfer it into a baggie to bring home, it cracked under the weight of the candy.

About half of my students would have shrugged it off.  Hey, it might be broken, but it’s still a cookie with lots of candy on it!

About half of my students would have dramatically melted down.  The cookie BROKE.  It is the end of the WORLD.

Both these reactions would be easy to manage – the first obviously so, but even the dramatic group is pretty easy to respond to.  You sternly stop the crying, focus on the fun of the experience and the intactness of the candy, and send them on their way.

But this one boy, the only one whose cookie broke, isn’t part of either of these groups.  He’s not go with the flow, and he’s definitely not dramatic.  So when his cookie broke I didn’t even realize there was a problem until I saw him standing, silently, holding the broken pieces, little tears quietly dripping down his cheeks.  No words, no tantrum, just a silent mourning that I was powerless to help with.  I tried to help, of course, but in the end all I was able to do was gently take the cookie pieces from his hand and finish packing them up.

Is there anything harder than not being able to comfort a sad child?  Sometimes I think I’d be okay with more drama in my classroom if it meant being able to help the kids when they’re sad.

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