I asked M how his day at work went today, and he said, “I accidentally threw out a kid’s underwear.”
You know there’s a story behind that one!
To back up a bit: M just started his 4th week as a camp counselor. It’s been going very well so far — a fair bit of challenging behavior from the kids, and he’s discovered that “6- and 7-year-olds cry a lot for no reason,” but overall he seems to be doing a great job with the kids.
For 3 of the 4 weeks he’s been assigned to a den that includes the camp’s most challenging kid, J. J has had some really tough issues in his past, so the fact that he comes with a lot of (as M put it) “attention-seeking behaviors and problems with impulse control” is not surprising. M insists that the den leader assignments each week are random. Personally, I think the camp leaders have realized that M actually does a really good job of addressing J’s behavior without labeling J a bad kid, and M also came with references about babysitting a special-needs kid, so he’s got a bit more experience.
Anyway, today J came up to M while brandishing wet dirty underwear on a stick, and whacked M with it a few times. J said he’d found it in a puddle. M said the camp policy for lost underwear is to throw it out rather than put it in lost-and-found (who knew a camp had a separate policy for underwear?) so he confiscated the skivvies, put them in the trash, and got whacked a couple more times by the stick before finally disarming J. At that point, another kid in the den wandered up and announced he was missing his underwear. M, with a sinking feeling, described what he’d put in the trash. Yup. Since it was early enough in the day for the trash barrel to still be otherwise empty, M suggested the kid could fish the underwear out of the trash. The kid did, but based on the wet/dirty/trash-contamination aspects decided to put it in his bag rather than put it back on. Good call. M said the kid didn’t seem too perturbed about not wearing underwear for the rest of the day, but then again, the kid was also oblivious to the fact his shirt was on inside out.
Well good. At least it wasn’t a finicky kid whose underwear had run afoul of J and the stick.
And I can’t help but smile as a I picture a parent somewhere in eastern Massachusetts tonight, going through a kid’s bag of camp stuff, asking, “What happened to your underwear?” and hearing the kid reply, “My counselor accidentally threw it out.” And knowing there’s got to be a story behind it….