Thursday, February 19, 2009

As the school term draws to a close, I thought I would write something about my favourite students, starting in chronological order from the start of my day. I'll begin with Steve. Steve is 5 years old and is generally in love with his stylish hair, which used to be permed and is now long and straight, making him look like he's in a Korean boy band. I sit next to him everyday for lunch, and we have conversations like the following:

A: Hey, Steve, do you want more rice?
S: No, no, rice today, it is the yummy!
A: Uh huh.
S: Yes, yes, more rice today! [Unintelligible]
S: Whaaaaa! Whooooo! This is a vegetable today!
A: What? That makes no sense.
S: Yeah! I'm going to [unintelligible] today.

There's really not much reason to like Steve, especially since he's liable to start crying at any second for any reason. Last week he cried because he didn't want to eat the potato salad in his lunch.

In the same class is Emily, who is impossibly cute and tiny, but despite having been at the school for three months, almost never speaks. When she does, she calls me Ms. Adeel and communicates mostly by whispering. One day after lunch, she came up to me, indicated that it was something very important, and whispered "thank you Mr. Adeel" in my ear. Usually, though, she communicates by banging on the table like an impatient businessman whose drink is empty.

Then I have Daniel and Matthew, who are roly-poly 6-year-olds that are roughly the same size as me. They're my favourite students at the entire school, mostly because they're very smart and loud. Daniel claims to be about 70 lbs, and I believe it. I think. He likes to have conversations at the top of his lungs, begin each sentence with the word "AND" and periodically interrupt class to empty his sinuses in the sink. When he gets confused or excited, he pulls up his shirt to scratch or stroke his massive pot belly.

Matthew is probably a better student than Daniel. He's cuter, better behaved and does better work, but he's not nearly as entertaining. Daniel's high-decibel ramblings about his baby sister ("my baby") or various other go-nowhere stories that conclude with a sad "I don't know..." get stuck in my head, but Matthew's don't. Matthew has been big on inviting myself and his morning teacher to his house to play Nintendo Wii ("my house go and Nintendo Wii play"). As yet, the invitation remains unfilled. Instead, he hugs my legs and tries to kiss me too often for my taste.

Full disclosure: Matthew is exceptionally cute when he cries. When he cries, I like to let it go on for my amusement.

Last but not least are Tim and Frank. Tim is a 9-year-old that I teach twice a week. He speaks almost no English, but his chubbiness (imagine a Korean Pillsbury doughboy), attention to detail and comical drawings (his mom apparently looks like him with a ponytail taped to the back of her head) won my heart. One day, I achieved my longstanding goal of poking him in the belly when demonstrating the difference between 'chest' and 'stomach'. One day, and one day only, Tim spoke up in class and said that "San is a very dirty, dirty boy". Most of the time, he can't even tell me what he ate for lunch.

Frank is 4 years old and isn't even my student, but if you don't love Frank, you don't have a heart. As I explained to a Korean teacher, Frank is not really a name that anyone under the age of 50 has. Fortunately for Frank, he looks like a middle-aged man compacted into the body of an eccentric 4-year-old. He makes baby sounds at me whenever I see him and unlike most of his knee-high classmates, isn't terrified of my dark skin and deep voice. The high point for Frank was the day he wore a shirt and tie along with a cardigan, and even had his hair combed in a nerdy side part. I figured he was going to try out for an opening in Weezer, but it was actually a meeting at his dad's office.

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