In my church, I’m one of the “adults” in charge of planning activities for the boys aged 7-11, which I love. When I get home from work, I don’t want to rest, I want to go straight to an activity where I hang out with some amazingly respectful kids for an hour. If you’ve ever had a 7 to 11-year-old boy, you know how great they are. They just want to sit all day at school, hoping their teacher calls on them to explain math problems to the other students and the teacher. Then, they can barely contain themselves at the end of the day, because they want to go home, and tell their parents about their amazing day at school. Then they are so excited about getting to work on their homework, that they tell their parents they DO NOT want a snack and to please hold all their calls, because they don’t want to be interrupted while doing their homework. Then, they can’t wait to take a shower, brush their teeth and go to bed at 8:00 pm.
If you ever came home to a 7-11 year old boy and this happened, you would know that aliens did in fact, abduct them, and replace them with aliens that completely misread how 7 to 11 year old boys are supposed to act. If your 7-11 year old boy ever does anything other than go around destroying things, acting like he doesn’t need Ritalin and doesn’t run around like a banshee with his head cut off, notify the authorities immediately.
My job, with the help of at least 2 other adults is pre-teen cat herding. We come up with activities, err tasks that video game creators give players to do in a video game. The objectives must be very vague, because you DO NOT have more than 2 minutes at your disposal to explain things to them. You have to create a perimeter (gym, park) area that is spacious, but not too big, so they don’t escape. You must be learn the art of refereeing so no one gets hurt too badly. The most important rule to follow is the Michael Jordan rule. You can’t control them, you can only hope to contain them. In contrast to most video games where your environment is destructible for maximum fun, the environment with boys that age should be more like a padded cell, so they don’t destroy all humanity.
In asking my wife what I should do for our latest activity, she suggested we do a paper airplane contest. I scoffed, thinking that there was no way that kind of thing would keep these boys occupied for a whole hour. I figured that I had two minutes to teach them how to do it, they would finish the contest in 10 minutes, and I would be stuck trying to figure how to keep them interested for the next 48 minutes.
In other words, I thought it was going to be a craplet show. If you’ve never heard of a craplet, look it up on Google. It’s something people in the IT industry call programs that come pre-installed in new computer that are junk. I came to that activity thinking that my activity was going to be a craplet. The kid were going say it sucked and they were going to torture us for the next hour. They were going to say, “I’m bored. I’d rather go home and do homework.” or “This sucks. What are we supposed to do? I can’t figure out this airplane and I just want to spend more time with my family.”
But then a predictable thing happened that I should have seen coming. They started making planes, hundreds of them, and then inventing games to do with their planes. First, it was plane tag, where they would chase each other and try to hit each other with the planes. Then it was airplane wars and by the time we got to the hour mark, they wanted to stay and do more, and told their parents it was the best activity they’d ever been to…until next week anyways.
The problem with accidentally creating a fun activity, was that one, they wanted to stay longer and annoy me. And two, now they are going to want more activities like that and when they see me later, they might actually want to talk to me.
No matter what I do, it seems like bitterness attaches to me like a slug. I never wanted to do this calling in the first place, and now I’m stuck with these boys wanting to say hi to me sometimes, their parents praising me for keeping them sane for an hour, and now with these unrealistic expectations to do something fun again next time. Either that or create something that is so boring they give up after 5 minutes and create another war game and call it the best activity ever again. You can never win with these people.
Why can’t they just like their families and homework? Then I could go back to my pre-fame days and get my anonymity back.
I guess I need to give less of a craplet.
Bitter Bunch of Craplet Ben