Last night was Wednesday night and in our house that means…Awana. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Awana, it’s a program for kids that our church decided to start last year. We run it every Wednesday night for an hour and a half.
We have one really unruly little boy who has been a regular since it started. He is definitely our biggest behavior problem almost every week. He has a good heart but he has a super hard time controlling his impulses, apparently. Well, this little guy (who I will call Dylan) has been bringing a friend for about the last month, which we encourage. But there are always exceptions. Like this “friend,” (who I will call Wayne.) In fact, it’s funny that they call each other friends because they spend the whole time each week calling each other names, fighting, and in general being horrible distractions for the rest of the kids. Picture two wolverines fighting in the middle of the room while twenty other kids try to quietly read and learn Bible verses. Yeah, that’s pretty accurate.
So the reason this concerns me is that in our Awana program, I’m the Commander. Which means that when there are serious discipline problems (like little Wayne) I am the person who has to handle them. Last week Wayne’s teacher was at her wit’s end with him and I attempted to give him a warning. I told him that if his behavior didn’t improve, he would be asked to not return.
This is the part I really struggle with. How do you kick a kid out of church? Isn’t that where really bad kids need to be? Isn’t that like telling someone they are too fat for Weight Watchers? Well last night, little Wayne was uttering racial slurs and pushing other kids against the wall during game time and being a giant turd. So I told him he couldn’t come back if he chose to act that way. I felt terrible. Because I think this kid is really lost in a bigger sense than, like - can’t find your mom in Wal-mart. At the end of the night, I gave him a ride home so that I could tell his mom he wouldn’t be attending anymore which also felt really crappy to me.
On the way home, Wayne told me that his parents are divorced and how he has already had Saturday School many times this year and that his mom recently signed him up for “Boot Camp” for bad kids. He wasn’t bragging – just telling me the facts. When his mom came to the door, I saw a woman who looked really tired but not at all surprised to see her son in trouble once again. So I caved – instead of telling her that Wayne couldn’t come back, I told her that he needed to take a week off and then he would get another chance. I know the leaders at Awana are going to be mad at me for letting him come back again because in all reality, his behavior won’t change and it will be another week of torture for everyone involved.
Sue me for being a softy. And if anyone has any tips for handling wolverines, let me know…