March 10, 2010


Okay, so another brain fart day.  I can’t think of something to write about.  Oh I can, but it would sound like I’m bitching and complaining again.  I suppose I should try to find some humour in this world of mine…

My sister asked a question on Facebook today.  I asked my class.  They all looked at me strange, except for one boy.  He was the only one of 22 kids that knew what the question was about.  Robin asked,

Robin Harvey is wondering why boys like farting so much? I really don’t get it…

Well sis, it’s like this… because we can.  That’s all I could think of.  No one in the class could give me an answer, and most needed an explanation as to what a fart was.  Apparently, they also found it revolting, because of the ‘aiyo’ that was heard throughout the room.

Now, being a teacher, I have seen a lot of things going on in class that I would never have thought about.  Perhaps things that I would have HOPED I would never have thought about.  Things I wish I had never seen, heard, or, yes, smelled.

Above all are the little darlings called kindergarteners.  They are the most uninhibited, unshy, uncaring, yet happy, willing, and able students I teach.

When I first came to Taiwan, as you may be aware, I was working in a small town called Gangshan.  It’s about 1/2 hour drive south of Tainan, or 1/2 hour drive north of Kao-hsiung.  Whatever.  I taught two little kindergarten classes in the morning, and three elementary bushiban classes in the afternoons, Monday through Friday.  The only time in my life in Taiwan, that I had Saturdays and Sundays off.  But again, I digress.

There was one little boy in the class, who regularly, liked to ‘discover’ himself.  When I say regularly, I mean at least, without a word of a lie, once a week.  One day in particular, he was so proud of the fact that he had made himself, um, how shall I say, or just leave it, you understand, that he stood up in class, pressed his pants against himself so everyone could see it.  Then, when none of the other little kids were paying attention, and I was trying to get the other teacher’s attention to take care of the matter, he pulled his pants down to his ankles, and started showing everyone.  Finally, the teacher took him aside, and the class continued – unphased.  Apparently, the other little 4 and 5 year olds didn’t care.

One little girl used to sit beside me, and all through class, would gently move her hand up and down my lower leg.  Finally, after a few times of gently taking her hand away, I asked why she like to rub my leg.  She said, not your leg, your fur.  As the teacher had told me later, she had a rabbit at home, and told the teacher that my leg felt like a rabbit!

Another little girl always wore a dress or skirt, but mother would not put underwear on the little darling.  She would sit in class constantly, well, similar to the boy, but in a girl way.  Then, after about 5 or 10 minutes, jump up and say, “Niao niao!”  It basically means she has to go pee.

At one kindergarten, I used to have lunch with the students, because when my class finished, it was their feeding time.  One boy in particular, only liked (at the time) to eat white rice.  Nothing else.  Even his mother said it was difficult to get him to eat at home.  The kindergarten teacher told me that he always would throw up if he ate anything else.  By the way, this boy never ate the candy or chocolates or any other food item that happened to make it into the classroom.  White rice, and nothing else.

So happened, I decided to stay for the first time, and have lunch with them.  I was sitting beside him, enjoying the rice and something else that ‘Ai-yi’ (auntie) had prepared.  Very good actually, considering that most Taiwan food is rather bland tasting to MY palate.  I looked over at this boy, and asked if he wanted a piece of chicken.  Unbeknownst to me at that time, about his affliction, he said yes.  I took a piece from the main dish, and put in his bowl.  He bit into it, started chewing, and looking at him, I could see something was amiss.

Suddenly, like the scene from Witches of Eastwick, he started spewing all over the table.  Into his bowl, the kid next to him, my bowl, and I’ll tell you something right now, that is one thing that will get me going.  I put my bowl down, of course, now NO APPETITE (and people wonder why I don’t eat lunch! HA), and left the room before, well, I spewed!

Another time… same location, different boy.  This time, I think it was that he had had TOO much to eat.  He was a little bit on the, um, well, let’s say ‘he had big bones’!  Okay.  This boy usually had no problem eating ANYTHING and usually two or three bowlfuls.  I guess this day, he had had just a little more than his big tum-tum could handle.  He didn’t want the teacher to see, so he spewed into his bowl, and then, continued eating!   OH MY GOD!!!   I get queasy just thinking about this one.  He put his head down, and pretended like nothing happened.  I guess the kindergarten teacher used to get upset when the kids would spew everywhere, because she ends cleaning up.

I must say, kindergarten teachers in particular, do NOT get paid enough.  Thankfully, I am a foreign, part-time, teacher.  Cleaning spills and spews and other various bodily excrements, is not in my job description.

There was one little girl a couple of years ago, that for some reason, really enjoyed my class.  She enjoyed my class so much, that even when I told the little ones at about the 1/2 hour mark to go ‘niao-niao’, she would stay in class.  She told her mom how much she liked me and the class.  Okay, great praise from a 4 year old.  However, by not going ‘niao-niao’ meant that, somewhere between the 1/2 hour and 1 hour mark (class finish) she would tinkle wherever she happened to be.  Sitting on the floor, the next thing we’d see, is a little river flowing from her.  Another time, she happened to be walking to get her crayons, with a waterfall flowing after her.

Funny now, but then… not so.

And the funny thing is, I still enjoy my job.  The kids, for the most part, seem to enjoy what I do and how I do what I do.  Sure, at the beginning of the year when I’m tough and sound like a prison security guard, once they realize that I will not back down, the ones who know better, understand.  There are still the rebels, and what can I do.  If I can grab their attention when their young, then as they progress through the bushiban and into my older classes, they are my best and favourites students.

For any of you reading this, and have taught at the younger levels, you must certainly understand and sympathize what I and the other teachers go through.  You may even have your own stories that will top these.  I’d love to hear them.

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1 Comment

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One response to “March 10, 2010

  1. bilbet

    Well, well, after nearly 50 years you are beginning to see the light. This is basically what raising a family is.
    You never know ahead of time what will be said or done. I read this and immediately had the feeling that this was a re-run of our lives.
    The difference being, that we were stuck with these types of events for something like 20+ years. You get to say goodbye to the munchkins at the end of class.
    Somewhere in the far future, believe me, you will set on a porch, in the sunshine and recall all these tidbits and burst into laughter. We have done this so many times in the last few years, we actually question our own sanity at times.
    Thank God for life experiences and the ability to draw them from the deep recesses of the mind from time to time.
    Great articles, keep them coming.

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