Just painting and Johnny Cash. There are nights when I don't have to smoke crack to do my job, and tonight was one. So was last night. Apparently, the house has been mellow for the last five days, and if I recall correctly, last tuesday night was a breeze too.
The last three weeks were intensely chaotic and volatile, which forced basic survival mode of separating the kids needing protection/comfort from the kids feeding into the chaos by amping their aggression as much as possible. Think prison-style mob mentality in a ranch house for teens. Until things got so bad, that I got hit in the face. At that moment, a kid down the hall abrubtly stopped his yelling at another kid, and the hallway grew silent. Well, except for Laundry Bucket Banger's persistent warcry. After his arrest, relief spread over the group, and they gradually let down their guard across the board. But, it wasn't just relief. There was a pinch of empathy mixed in, which is always what I'm going for, and what is often, the most lacking. Everyone knew that LBB was not a normal kid, and the deliberateness of his actions are always in question. However, they had taken 3 weeks of it, plus another kid who requires a whole other essay and several more crack vials, and they were done, hating each other and the staff even more. Then, that pop in the face turned it all around, and it's scary how easily that could have swung the other way. As much as I hated seeing him arrested, I know it was the best thing. The other kids who'd been pissed at me for whatever reason, were now thanking me for "putting in my time," and basically doing whatever I asked. And since I asked that we paint, they couldn't grumble too much. I worked the next day, we did more painting, and they were near silent, almost too much so as they did every chore without being asked. They even promptly turned off the t.v. at 9pm. They also hardly bickered between each other at all. I took the following day off, wednesday, and got a cold, which kept me out until Monday, yesterday. When I arrived for my shift last night, the walls were covered in paintings, and one of my angriest kids greeted me with, "About time you're back, we thought you bailed. Check this out, I can paint!" And Dude, this kid can really paint, and he only started last Tuesday.