Question: What happens when a five-year-old girl shows up at ESL with a brand new my little pony coloring book?
Sarah and Lucy are two little girls that usually come to ESL class, and they don’t really like each other that much. I’m not sure why. Sarah is always mean to Lucy in subtle, sly ways, and Lucy alternates between being really mean to Sarah and really nice to her.
My official job at ESL is assistant teaching, not child care. But I’m kind of the substitute babysitter, so if the girl who usually watches the children doesn’t show up, I take her place.
Today was one of those days.
It just happened to also be the day that Lucy showed up with a brand new my little pony coloring book.
Sarah loves anything princesses-like, pink, glittery, or girly. I could see her eyeing Lucy’s coloring book with jealousy as soon as she entered the door. Lucy, of course, was perfectly aware of this. As Sarah reverently touched Lucy’s beautiful coloring book, Lucy snatched it away. “It’s mine!”
“She won’t give me her coloring book!” Sarah said, running to me pouting.
“It’s her book,” I said, “she doesn’t have to give it to you.”
Lucy smiled smugly.
“At home, I have two little pony coloring books,” said Sarah haughtily.
“My coloring book has stickers inside,” said Lucy.
“I have a Bambi coloring book at home with stickers in it,” said Sarah.
“You both have nice things,” I said, “But it’s not nice to brag.”
Matt and Anna showed up, then. I took all four of them into one of the Sunday School rooms in the Church so they wouldn’t bother their parents who were trying to learn English. Matt is Sarah and Lucy’s age, and Anna is a bit older.
We played nicely for a while, but Lucy’s coloring book was still a problem. It was obvious that she wasn’t interested in coloring in it, she just wanted to show it off. Any time anyone so much as touched it she would go ballistic.
Furthermore, she couldn’t just leave it on the table out of the way. She had to cart it with her everywhere. Once, all four kids were trying to play with a toy kitchen, and Lucy set it on the counter. Basically no one could use that half of the toy kitchen except her. Anna tried to move the coloring book and Lucy went nuts.
Everyone was getting more and more frustrated with Lucy and her coloring book, and all of the sudden they were all yelling at each other in Arabic.
Great. I don’t understand Arabic. What was I supposed to do?
Lucy grabbed her coloring book and whacked Anna with it. Okay, this was not acceptable. I took the coloring book from her.
“Lucy,” I said, “You cannot hit people with your coloring book. I’m putting it up here until you go home.”
Lucy went off into the corner and cried.
In the end she wanted it back so bad that I said she could have it as long as she told everyone she was sorry. I warned her that the moment she hit anyone with it it would go back up on top of the cabinet. So she apologized, and I gave her coloring book back to her.
Lucy was much nicer about the whole thing after that. But she still had some sort of grudge against Sarah. So she would go around and give everyone a my little pony sticker except Sarah. This of course was pure torture for Sarah, who loved my little pony stickers. She tattled on Lucy all the time, but what could I do? They were Lucy’s stickers after all.
Good old Anna solved the problem by giving her stickers to Sarah. This made Lucy so mad.
“Why don’t you want Sarah to have any stickers?” I asked Lucy.
“She didn’t say ‘I’m sorry,'” said Lucy.
“But she didn’t do anything mean that she needs to apologize for,” I said.
“She didn’t say ‘I’m sorry,'” Lucy insisted.
Lucy and Sarah are about five, I think. If they are so catty over one coloring book now, I can’t imagine what they’ll be like as middle schoolers.
This post hit a bit too close to home, reminding “some” of us of “some” people we love and deal with, but I am not going to mention names.
Next time they start yelling in Arabic, just yell back at them, “Hallas!” (with the H being a cross between an H and a K) They’ll be shocked enough that you’re yelling back at them in Arabic, they’ll probably stop cold!
It means literally “Finished!” (we would translate it more as “Enough!”) and parents yell it at their kids all the time when they start to get out of hand and misbehave.
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