The kid meter is shaped like a stop signal with green,yellow, and red lights.
When the green light is on there are bursts of positive energy. Kids seek like minded playmates and act out dramas the length of the dining room. They stay out of each others way and, like water, seek paths of least resistance. There are yells of pleasure, shouts, rising and falling voices harmonizing like a well tuned college choir.
With the yellow light there are the beginnings of malfunction. Small groups disintegrate, individuals grab for the same toy, sharing is a foreign concept. Someone is pushed down by someone bigger or someone is reprimanded by staff for doing a behavior out of bounds even by a child care workers loosest standards.
At the red light, there is loud and persistent crying, by one, several, or many.
At this breakfast, there are 42 children and staff being served, getting books ready for school, visiting, doing dishes, wiping down tables, sweeping the floor and finishing chores. It is not a well oiled machine, but there are good things happening that are reinforced each day over time.
This morning the light is solid green.