Mixed bag for henna class at library- advice please?

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Posted by Lauren on August 16, 2002 at 13:35:22:

Last night I did a class at a local public library for their teen
program. About 20 kids showed up, about evenly boys and girls, ages
10-17, most of them black. I was all excited, hoping I'd finally get
to do some of those neat-o african designs from Alex.
Anyway, most of them were only vaguely interested until I passed
around the pattern books. Then the littler girls started going "Oh,
GROSS" when they got to the pages in Spellstone and Africa with the
breast designs. I've always been sort of uncertain about those
pages. I mean, I love the designs but I'm afraid someday a parent is
going to go ballistic on me for showing them to her kid. Is there a
way to have the designs without the boobs?
Then there was the group of about six more-gangsta-than-thou older
boys who were obviously there to make trouble. They heckled me from
the very beginning, asking rude questions and talking over me. When
I finally gave up on the history part and handed out the henna cones,
they kept complaining about the smell (I used eucalyptus) and the
color and the texture. Between the six of them they used about 50
alcohol wipes and then kept asking for more henna cones. Call me a
silly animist but I didn't want to share my little cones of baraka
with them. The facilitator told tem if they didn't cut it out they
would be asked to leave but it never happened and eventually they
wandered out on their own. How do I deal with this? They were all
about a foot taller than me and fairly buff and I'm fairly flabby,
plus I was wearing the baby. I was pretty intimidated and didn't
know what was appropriate to say or do, so I just ignored them.
Once I started handing out the henna, the fun began. Some of them
took watercolor pencils and started sketching out designs from
books. Some people did freehand stuff, some copied from books. We
got some terrific Warrior Princess designs! Some people chose song
lyrics like the poetry pages from Erfan's book. Then I got a herd of
little girls asking me to do designs on them, and they all wanted
traditional Indian. All of them were really dark-skinned and I hope
they come back to the library and get their pictures taken so I can
see what the color they get is. One girl in particular showed a real
gift for design and came up with her own piece that looks a lot like
the opening picture on this page. One kid had two perfectly good
designs done by someone else but he didn't like them and kept
pestering me to do one for him, which I eventually did because he was
very polite about it.
It went okay, I guess, and of course it's a learning process getting
a good class toether, but what would you all have done with this


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