This afternoon, I said goodbye to my babies: the 27 little Thai boys and girls that I’ve known as my K1 Watermelon class since last May.
I could easily spend this entire blog post blubbering about how much I’ll miss them, how much they’ve grown (literally!), etc… but I won’t. Instead, I’m taking this opportunity to recall and retell my favorite moments with them – the sweet, the funny, the gross- basically anything you might expect a miniature person to be capable of doing. Here goes:
Tira has been my right-hand girl throughout the year. The tiniest one in the class with the loudest singing voice, she always loves to have little private chats at my desk during naptime when her friends are asleep. She also explained to me, during a lesson about healthy versus unhealthy foods and the consequences of eating too many unhealthy foods, “Teacher, my daddy is very big and fat. He eats many, many cheeseburgers!
Tonnam is trouble, but the kind that somehow steals your heart when you’re not looking. One of my first lessons with Tonnam, I assumed he was playing with a crayon under the table when he was actually playing with his penis. Despite my best efforts to get him to stop, he only decided it was best to do so when the Thai teacher threatened to cut it off if he kept up his habit. Tonnam also enjoys leading class riots, holding his eyelids open when I ask him to close them and every so often, he does his best work in hopes that I come over to his table and say, “Good job, Tonnam!” after which he perks up a bit, smugly glances at his neighbors’ elementary coloring skills and continues his own advanced-level coloring… in the lines, of course.
These happened frequently during the first semester and only once or twice during the second semester: poop checks. You know how certain places have certain fragrances? When I was little, my grandma’s house always smelled like a mixture of lavender and Japanese food. This year, I slowly came to learn that my classroom would always smell like a mixture of farts and baby powder. Farts are okay, but when the smell lingers, we (the teachers) start asking questions. “Does someone need to go poo poo? Did someone already go poo poo?” If no one is confessing or pointing fingers at their friends and the smell is still lingering, it’s time for a poop check. We line them up in two lines – one of boys, one of girls – and they wait to have the butt of their underpants examined. If they’re innocent, they can sit down. If the guilty person is found and didn’t confess during an earlier period of questioning, they’re likely to endure some social repercussions. “Thanks, man. Because you didn’t feel like saying you did it, we ALL had to get our butts checked and now someone else has the blocks I was playing with. Thanks.”
Benjamin is the class leader, the peacekeeper and the reporter. If something is going on, Benjamin is there on the scene to report back.
-“Teacher, Elis is beating up friends.”
-“Teacher, Jadar missed toilet and peed on the floor.”
-“Teacher, Mick ran away.”
Benjamin translates from Thai to English and understands English well enough to laugh at the inappropriateness of Mick saying, “Yummy cheeseburger!” when I ask what him what he dressed up as for Halloween. Ben helps the girls up when they fall down and is more than happy to pull out a small plastic chair for Tira, his K1 girlfriend.
Some of my favorite moments with the kids are the simplest ones. I love reading to them or taking them to the playground whenever their jam-packed curriculum schedule allows. I love hearing them giggle or hearing them say, “I love you, teacher.” What I love most is just having them around.
I won’t see most of them ever again, but I’ll always be proud of my babies and I’m so excited about all of the places they’ll go.