Saturday afternoons I teach the class from hell. Don’t get me wrong, many of the kids are adorable and I love ’em as individual little people, but they seem physically incapable of shutting up. I’ve tried everything with them, from nice teacher to mean teacher to really mean shouty teacher and back again. I sometimes look around the room and can’t even make out who the hell has their mouth open, so it turns into that scene from X-Men where Professor Xavier gets overwhelmed by all the voices in his head and ends up collapsing on the floor. I’ve taken to rearranging them and writing names on the board but nothing works.
The problem is that the class is overcrowded but the school keeps adding children and the TA is completely unsuited for the class because frankly, it needs a drill sergeant not an older-sister-type TA. And this isn’t even the worst case at the school – other people’s classes have been so out of hand and they’ve been so on their own in terms of shutting it down that they ended up in tears. Yeah.
Silly me, I haven’t gotten to why this Saturday afternoon was particularly bad. One little boy forgot his schoolbag, but no worries! He remembered to bring his gun. Yes, his BB gun (real guns are illegal in China, btw). He and the other students pretended to shoot it for a second before they were yelled at to put it back in its place – his desk. Now, it really pissed me off that he’d brought a gun to school. Kids sharpen their pencils with razorblades and I’ve accepted the absurdity of that. But some idiot let his kid bring a gun to class? Cultural relativism stops here. But it would have been really out of place for me to say anything or make a scene because, as I just pointed out, no one gave a crap. It’s just silly Mr. America who thinks maybe guns don’t belong in desks. And the kid paid money to be here so I guess he can do whatever he wants. So I just stood there asking no one in particular, “You forgot your bookbag but you brought a gun? Where’s your book? Why was ‘gun’ Option B in the ‘forgot my bag’ scenario?”
Later in class (it gets better!) one of the little boys who I actually really like (bucktoothed 7-year-olds! aww!) picked at one of his scabs until it started to bleed. I, thinking, “Um, bad,” told him to wipe it off. Which he did with his hands. Then I said, “No!” and gave him a tissue, which he took into his blood-wiping hand and threw back at me. Ew. I guess this sort of thing just happens with kids…but living in China I could say that about a lot of things and it really wouldn’t be true. Yikes.