Story of the Week 12/10/2015
By Alanna Ojibway, Children's Services Assistant at Upper Valley Haven
Last week our kiddos in the after-school program at the shelter had an early release day
from school so we had them for an extended afternoon. Because of this extra time, I was able to take a small group (just two of them) rock climbing at a climbing facility in town. Both of the kids who came that day had been having a particularly difficult week, getting in lots of arguments with the other kids and acting exceptionally defiant towards the adults and staff around them. Initially I felt a little torn taking these two on a special field trip because it felt like I was rewarding bad behavior, or at least ignoring it. However, the trip ended up being one of the most rewarding, fun-filled experiences I could have imagined--for all three of us.
The two kids, one girl and one boy, who normally can barely sit still for more than two minutes, never left each others side for almost an entire hour. They patiently took turns climbing different walls around the gym and encouraged one another while they were waiting their turn. I was amazed to see how quickly these two transitioned from being angry, isolated, and defiant to excited, supportive, and giggly within just a few hours. I was so happy to see these two children happy that I decided to surprise them with a "special treat" on the way home. The kids had no idea where we were going, but on the way home we were passing the Cabot cheese factory and I knew that both of them loved cheese (who doesn't, right?). So all I told them as a preface was that we are going to a store that has lots of cheese, we have five minutes to go in, using only quiet voices and slow feet, and sample as many different kinds of cheese as we can. I looked back at them in the car and said "Do you think we can handle this?" and their response without hesitation was "Oh my gosh, yes".
Needless to say, this may not have been the healthiest of surprises for two kids at the end of the day - but well worth a hilarious memory. In five minutes we had sampled over 15 different types of cheese, 4 types of cheese dip, 5 kinds of cheese crackers, and I got to see endless cheesy smiles on the way home which was, in every way possible, the best thing I could have asked for.