Thursday, September 9, 2010

mirros and monkeys

I seem to be falling into a nice rhythm with the girls. After some soul searching about really how to do this I have remembered and realized and really understood that people are always mirrors. If you want to change someone's reactions, change your actions. So I treat the girls like they know what they are doing and I am here to help, not dictate. This seems to be working really well. Telling them that I trust them to do what needs to be done and that I wont be checking up on them unless it becomes a problem. Suddenly, no more fights with them. Giving them more freedom rather than less. “It seems like you all have extra time in the morning after doing all of your chores, shall we try sleeping in 15 more minutes a day and see how that goes?” “YES!” so now we get up at 5:00 instead of 4:45 (because, really?!?!) and they still get everything done. So then I tell them that if they will just go to bed properly that they can have lights out at 8:15 instead of 8:00 and suddenly no more fights about bedtime. They actually end up in bed sooner than they did when we were fighting about it.

I went to town yesterday so another volunteer was watching them and I told them that I would bring back a movie for them but if I heard that they were being jerks that I wouldn't give it to them for another week. I got back and they had gotten themselves into their lines for dinner and eaten and done everything properly without needing any authority figure to tell them. So I gave them their movie and also some pastries I brought them. I told them that I was so sure they would be good that I bought cookies that I would have had to throw away otherwise. They just behave better and better the more I show them that I trust them.

Everyone was warning me about how tough I was going to have to be with them and what jerks they are which I am sure is some of the problem I was having. I came into this expecting a fight, and I got one. Some of the teachers complain about them and tell me how awful they are, and they probably are at school but interestingly, the ones they say are the worst are the ones that are the best for me. They show the most leadership and offer to help and always do what I ask. It's amazing. I think it is a true testament to the idea that people behave the way they are expected to.

I still have to talk to them sometimes about stuff but I make sure to do it in private and usually hugging them (they always want to be hugging) and just explain to them how their lack of respect (usually for someone else) isn't cool and how would they feel and to please not to that anymore and they are so receptive to it.

The biggest fights we were having and that other people told me I would have with them was about being ready on time. So I just tell them what time it is regularly. “30 more minutes” “15 more minutes” “5 more minutes” “Be in line in one minute” and they are there without any problems. It is when I forget to give them time warnings that we have problems and that is my fault. I tell that that when I get grumpy that they aren't on time and I haven't given them proper warnings just to remind me and I will stop being grumpy. And they do and I do and it works.

The one thing that is happening that has always happened that doesn't seem to be stopping in spite of talks about how much stealing sucks is that they steal each other's clothes. This seems to be something that has been happening always so I'm going to ask the directors if I can buy them locks for their closets. The boys have locks and I think the girls should get them also. It will only cost me about $30 and seems well worth it to have the stealing stop. Everyone should have some privacy. I will have copies of the keys and we can get into them anytime we want to, but at least they will be safe from each other.

So with less than a week here I starting to feel really good about how things are going. I am starting to really enjoy these girls and glad to have this challenge after all.

I hear that there are terrible mudslides around the rest of the country but so far here we haven't been affected. We are just at the beginning of hurricane season though so I expect we'll get some storms but hopefully nothing too big.

The howler monkeys were in the trees in our courtyard today for the first time since I've been here. It was fun to see them finally after hearing them further away.


  1. Being a volunteer... Yes I know. The ups and downs... And the experience of meeting new people and helping. Keep up the good work.
    A fellow traveller from Greece

  2. i am so pissed that i missed your party because i was out of town. just wanted to let you know that i was missing you and was thinking about you so smile for me.