Week 1: Anger

At Tu Nidito this week, we have been discussing anger. We’ve been talking with the kids about ways that they have felt angry about the death or diagnosis in their life, and doing an activity where we write down pet peeves on pieces of paper and put them in a jar. By the time we’re done, the jar is overflowing as the kids tamp down the pieces of paper to make room for more. We use this visual to talk about how when we bottle up our anger, we have less control over how it will escape, and segue to asking the kids about ways that we can release anger so that we don’t accidently hurt ourselves or people around us.

The groups that I’ve facilitated this week have responded to our theme very differently. In my Thursday I bereavement group, we had a couple new middle schoolers join group this week, and they were reluctant to share until they had become more acquainted with the other kids. That’s pretty typical for new kids, and this was a particularly difficult question to jump right into for the new kids; it requires more introspection than most middle schoolers are used to. A lot of the older kids were absent as well, so it was just a subdued group without a lot of deeper insight. That said, they did really get into the activity and it was clear that they grasped the ideas about anger that we were presenting, they just weren’t quite comfortable sharing.

The other group that I talked about anger with was CPC (Children with a Parent with Cancer). This group is big and the middle schoolers are particularly high-energy, and can often be unfocused and disruptive. This group was one of those nights, and the kids were incredibly rambunctious and unwilling to listen or participate. This was especially frustrating because several of the families had received updated diagnoses, including one parent who had entered hospice care, and there were definitely kids there who could have used focused support. It was interesting to note for my project, however, that there seemed to be no relationship between the “severity” of the parent’s diagnosis and the rambunctiousness of the kid. While I knew that everyone processes stress differently and kids can display that in all sorts of ways, I think that I’d still assumed that the kids whose parents were sicker would act out more. That simply isn’t true, and even siblings can behave in totally different ways.

I also started office work this week, and have been busy filing paperwork and entering data into Tu Nidito’s computer system. It’s funny to see all the administrative bureaucracy behind the empathetic and personal work that Tu Nidito does. It reminds me a lot of the political campaigns I’ve worked on, and their databases for voter contact. I’m not quite sure what to make of the similarities, but I am glad that the familiarity I do have has made getting used to the system easier.

In the upcoming week, I’ll be joining a new bereavement group and helping to lead meal preparation for a program called PB & J with Love, which provides meals for single parents with cancer, many of whom I know through the CPC group. I’m glad that my internship is allowing me to get involved with Tu Nidito in these news ways, and excited to see what they’ll be like.

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