Friday, October 29, 2010

Cat Fight!

Tanea and Janessa are best enemies. They can go from being absolute angels, playing drums together peacefully and laughing merrily one minute, to scratching each other's eyes out the next. It makes the last two hours of my nine and a half hour shift interesting, to say the least.

It's the time when kids have been in preschool all day. They're tired, and cranky, and ready to just go home. Instead, they have to play nice with the other kids for two more long hours.

Janessa and Tanea had just discovered the joy of the small hiding place beneath the stairs of the indoor loft. Three sides are boxed in, with a fourth side semi-open. Yesterday, Tanea climbed into the farthest reaches, with Janessa sitting right next to her. I was cleaning up the last of the toys, listening to them giggle and chat away merrily, when all of a sudden I heard a horrible screeching sound. Howls followed, and pained screams.

I rushed over, crouching down and risking life and limb by sticking my head in. The scene that met my eyes could only be described as a cat fight. Sharp talons were digging into tender flesh, and I could only reach one hand of the culprit. I ordered her out, but she would have none of it. Knowing that if I pulled her out by her arm I would lose my job, I was forced to flail around for the other hand to at least stop the horrible clawing.

When I finally maneuvered Janessa out and persuaded Tanea that it was safe to emerge, little Tanea had scratches all up and down her face. The top of her head was scratched, and her arm was covered in welts from Janessa's pinches.

I cleaned her up and bandaged her as best as I could, and tried to sooth her. Needless to say, getting so cut up with no way out doesn't feel good at all. I just sat with her in my lap, talking with her quietly.

When the two had a few minutes to cool off, I talked with them both together. Each was eager to blame the other, citing what each did wrong (She pinched me first! She said she hated me! She wouldn't scoot over!) Both pinched and scratched, but given the difference in size and strength, Tanea came out on the rougher side. Strangely enough, the other girl didn't have one scratch on her.

I wrote out an incident report and informed the site director of what happened. We are blocking off the cubby hole, and talked to both set of parents. Let me tell you, that was one fun conversation to have.

As it was, I was already blaming myself. Even though I was only assisting in the classroom (and not actually a lead teacher), I wondered if I could have handled things differently. Could I have somehow gotten them out of there faster? Should I have just pulled Janessa out, at the risk of losing my job?

Who knows what Monday will bring.

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