Margaux Rhymes with Fargo

Mirthful Musings, Ridiculous Ramblings, and Comical Codswallop



No one likes that kid

Everything always seems to happen during lunch time at summer camp. I guess that makes sense because the rest of the time, the kiddos have robots to occupy them. But still, it would’ve been nice to eat in peace.

Yet again, many of the boys were playing 4-square, and as we’ve discussed it can be a recipe for disaster. I was actually playing with them at this point, which is fun until they all gang up on me to get me out every time, but it usually helps mitigate disputes. But it only takes one kid to ruin it all.

Jacktopus (clearly not his real name) was in the “king” position, which in 4-square means that he got to make the rules. He does, however, have to follow his own rules, a fact that is quite unwelcome to the king.  So after holding down the “king” position for a few minutes, which is a long time in this game, Jacktopus had two misserves in a row, which meant that he was out.  Unfortunately, he didn’t see the second serve as outside the lines, while literally everyone else playing did. Including me. Jacktopus refused to go out, so like a responsible adult I tried to have a reasonable conversation with him. Majority wins, I’m sorry you didn’t see it but everyone else did, it’s just a game, you’ll have another chance to be king, blah blah blah. But if I learned one thing this summer, it’s that kids are not rational. At all.

He refused to move out of the square, meaning that no one else could play either.  The other boys moved to a different part of the blacktop so they could continue playing, but Jacktopus ran over there as well and wouldn’t let them play. He also held the ball and wouldn’t let go so that they couldn’t use it, and then punted it across the blacktop. Like I said, totally irrational.

At this point I had a mass of frustrated kids yelling at him and yelling at me and it was a total mess. I sent everyone to the playground to play tag, except for Jacktopus who got to come hang out with me for a while. What a treat. No one likes that kid.


What goes around, comes around

Back to the summer camp theme for another story.

During lunch one day, a bunch of the boys were playing 4-square on the blacktop. They can literally play this game for hours. It’s incredible. It’s also a recipe for disaster.

Disagreements about who is “out” and who isn’t are a common occurrence, but usually the loudest kid wins and they just go back to playing.

However, one incident in particular led to some pushing and shoving between two best friends with the same name. We’ll call them Mini Sasquatch and Hairy Sasquatch. They yelled at each other and Mini Sasquatch ended up getting thrown to the asphalt by Hairy Sasquatch.  Cue the tears. Of course, after I got to hang out with Mini Sasquatch inside while he cried for a bit, he got up and went back outside to play. Freakin boys. Just skip the tears, will ya?!

Later during the same lunch period, Hairy Sasquatch tripped over himself and fell on the blacktop because his shoes were untied. Classic elementary school boy. He scraped himself worse than Mini Sasquatch had earlier, and yet again I got to hang out inside with a crying 5th grader. That’s karma, kid. Although I’d argue that I’m the real loser in this whole situation.

“Oh, there you are, Perry”

One of my students this summer made a pretty good Perry the Platypus look-alike, and I was pretty excited about it so I thought I’d show it off.  If you don’t know who Perry is, click on the link and reclaim your childhood.  Phineas and Ferb is a classic.

Also, I just now found out that Agent P actually works for the O.W.C.A.—the Organization Without a Cool Acronym.  Well played, Disney, well played.

Kick ’em where it hurts

One week at summer camp…  (As an aside, I think more stories should start this way. It’s a pretty great intro.)

Anyways, one week at summer camp I had a kid who asked ALL of the questions (we’ll call him Aggressive Alan) as well as a kid that didn’t like being asked questions (we’ll call him Sensitive Sam).  It made for a super fun combo.  As an example: Sam burst into tears when I asked him to clean up at the end of the day because he wasn’t done programming yet.

During lunch one day, Sensitive Sam bragged that he is the smartest kid in his class.  Wrong move, Sam.  Aggressive Alan immediately challenged Sam to answer a hard math question: What is the 2 plus 8 minus 5 plus 10 times 10 squared, and then take the square root of the whole thing and divide by 3?  Sam didn’t know, and Alan clearly had no idea what the answer was, so I’m not sure how he would have known if Sam got it right anyways.  I bet Sam could have said anything and Alan would have agreed.  But alas, Aggressive Alan kept bugging Sensitive Sam, who got really embarrassed and upset to the point of tears.  For the record, I didn’t know about all this at the time.

Then the two boys along with a few other campers were doing a classic elementary school balancing challenge on the wall, and Aggressive Alan was again bothering Sensitive Sam by being all up in his personal space.  Sam freaked out and pushed Alan away, so Alan grabbed Sam’s arm, and in a classic schoolboy move Sensitive Sam kicked Aggressive Alan in the crotch.

It was a whole situation: Aggressive Alan became super upset, and Sensitive Sam stormed away in tears (why was he the one crying?!), and I was the lucky one who had to tell their parents about it at the end of the day.  Of course, the boys were friends again ten minutes later, but their moms were less than enthused.  Freakin boys.

I’m the champion of the world!

Kids love to argue.  I remember getting into exchanges when I was in elementary school:  “You’re a doofus!”  “No, YOU’RE a doofus!”  “You’re a doofus times a hundred!”  “You’re a doofus times a thousand!”  “You’re a doofus times a hundred million thousand!”  “You’re a doofus times a million kajillion!”  “That’s not even English, stupid!  Which means YOU’RE a doofus times a googolplex and that’s that.”

…Can you tell which one is me?

Anyways, a couple of my campers this summer got into an argument about who was the “champion of the world” and it escalated pretty quickly.  One particularly delicate student, let’s call him Queeno, got upset that the other student was claiming to be the best when Queeno felt that he himself should be the best.  It escalated into shouting pretty quickly, as these things normally do, but then I had a brilliant idea.  Solve it in the battlebot arena, boys.


Queeno decided to record his voice on his robot saying “this is Queeno, the most powerful person in the world”.  The other boy added a chainsaw to his, which isn’t actually that useful when it comes to pushing the other bot out of the arena, but it looks cool.  Ultimately, Queeno lost and cried, but at least it was a decisive loss and not some arbitrary argument.

Ultimately, I decided that battlebots can be super useful for deciding in-class arguments, although I’m not sure how well that lesson translates to the real world.  Good thing I’m not a real teacher?

“Oranges are Evil”

Unbeknownst to us instructors, one of my campers this summer had a super intense aversion to oranges.  He couldn’t even look at them without freaking out.  Of course, we found this out the hard way.

One day, one of my assistants ate an orange during lunch.  Like a normal person.  About five minutes later, the assistant touched the aforementioned student’s lunch box to help him clean something up.  He totally flipped out.  I’m talking screaming, tears streaming down his face, frantic gestures, the works.  And I had absolutely no idea why.  Also, did I mention he’s ten years old?

Anyways, I brought him into the classroom to calm him down and left the rest of the campers outside on an extended lunch break.  After much gibberish, the student was finally able communicate that “oranges are evil” and that “no one should be subjected to the sticky juice” and that “the outside is poison”.  Oh.  I didn’t realize that oranges had it in for ya, kid.

The issue was resolved when the assistant who had eaten the orange washed her hands as well as the student’s lunchbox.  So I guess oranges aren’t that potent after all, if the poison can be washed away with soap and water.

Real quick, can we go back to “no one should be subjected to the sticky juice”?  This could be an important life lesson for all.

What Happens at Summer Camp, Stays at Summer Camp

Summer camp is interesting because we take kids ages 6 through 13 and put them in the same room and teach them about robots.  While they’re learning with their similarly-aged partners it’s fine, but the playground can get a little hairy.

So one week at camp, there were two little seven-year-old girls that were partners.  Let’s call them Munchkin and Corky.  During recess, Munchkin’s older brother Winkles usually left them alone, but one day he decided to go bother the girls as they were playing on the swings.

The fateful words:  “I dare you to kiss each other.”

And then he started physically pushing them together, and egging them on.  I mean, I understand that he’s a ten-year-old boy, but come on. This is ridiculous.

Munchkin and Corky freak out, and Winkle runs away, and I got to chat with the girls for a while.  Luckily, it was near the end of the day, so it wasn’t long before the parents arrived to pick up their kids.  And then I had the pleasure of telling them all about the incident.  Winkle’s mom (also the mom of Munchkin, who seemed fine) tried to tell me that he’s been running with a rough crowd in school.  At ten years old.  What?!  On the other hand, Corky’s mom was the real firework, exploding only after the other parents had left.  So that was super fun.

Of course, when I got home and told Will, his first question was, “So did they do it?!”  (They didn’t.)

Wisdom from an 8-year-old

Checklist for success.  This student was trying to solve the “Maze Bowling” challenge: the robot must navigate a simple maze in order to knock down a stack of cups at the end.

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