I have a confession to make that may actually surprise a few people…I’m…not…a paedophile. Phew, kinda nice to get that one off my chest! It’s been eating away at me for ages!
You see I’ve been having to contend with a constantly crying child in my class this week, which deeply upsets me (of course), as I want it to be all laughs and smiles! A hunky dory paradise, filled with colouring sheets, and candies! Which it is with the other three students, as per usual! However with the child in question….well, different story – she just sits and cries at every juncture – and if she isn’t doing that, then she’s standing with her arms crossed, pulling a “I’m over this” face, and basically not taking part in whatever activity we are doing. For a teacher this is a massive headache. In fact it is more than that, I would call it a cluster thunderclap migraine. It makes life very hard. And it’s not like I can just drink some water, and pop a couple of pills – it’ll take a lot more than that.
If it was your fully grownish friend, you would just say something along the lines of “snap out of it ya’ miserable bastard, how about you join in with us, and try and have a laugh? Life isn’t really all that bleak for you – try to focus on the positives.” But yeah, can’t say that to a six year old for some reason. Instead you just have to try, and be sympathetic, and continue to show that they are welcome any time…should they ever decide to grace the class with their attention. Urgh.
But unexpectedly this saga has taken a strange turn, into even stranger territory.
I had one of the teaching assistants come into class, and ask the kindergarten students (in Korean) if I am scary…the crying one nodded, and the other three also eagerly screamed yes with huge grins across their faces (we had just been playing monsters, so I don’t think they were taking the interrogation so seriously!) I got a disdainful look from the lady as she left the classroom. Instantly I felt like a criminal. I was later notified that the child’s Mother was waiting downstairs, and that I had to go to talk with her immediately.
We chatted for a little while – of course you can’t be totally honest in these situations, if only! I wish I could have said that her daughter only “cries” when another teacher is around, probably for some female attention (as she may miss her Mother), and that I don’t think she is truly as mortified with life in my class as she may be making out…she does smile, and play sometimes when she thinks I’m not looking, and I often hear her humming tunes to herself. Does an unhappy person do that? Oh, Frank – your Father just died…oh God, noooooo….hummmm, hummm, la-la-la, hummmm…
Doesn’t ring true, right?
Instead I said that she is doing well in her work, and that I am sure in time she will become more comfortable. However I was sure to explain that I have literally never had a situation like this, most kids seem to like me, a lot. Actually while I was trying to have this conversation a number of my former students spotted me, and ran up to fill me in with their latest drama…John, my tooth came out! John, I got a new coat, like it? John, want some of this candy? I was hoping that the parent would take note of these warm friendly interactions, and realise I am not some horrific child-catcher type, but instead just a nice normal person. Who on an unrelated note, just happens to be a male. No big deal…
Nerrr. Didn’t happen. What did happen was her telling me that I am scary to children, a threat – and that she would like it if I “keep my distance, and keep hands off”…well there we go, cheers – I replied that I would do whatever necessary to make her happy, as it keeps me awake at night worrying – I just want her to smile is all. That was it, and she left.
Unfortunately this isn’t the first time I’ve ran into a situation like this, and it probably won’t be the last. I remember in one class I had a seven year old student who adored my lessons, so much so she would run home, and tell everything to her Mother…who felt it was all too much, and pulled her out, demanding a female teacher instead. Allegedly the final straw was when her daughter had said she would like to marry me when she was older – SHOCK HORROR, OH MY GODDDD! Come on now, really?! She’s a kid – that’s normal. But no, another knee jerk reaction engineered out of misplaced fear.
I think all of this stems from our over-sexualisation of…well, everything. I can’t just be a kind-hearted young man, who loves kids because I’m one of five children myself…no, I must be something else – something much darker. I can’t just want to make my students, smile, and hopefully learn something…instead I must have a sinful prerogative. I mean, come on?! I apologise for the rant, but this shit is pissing me off. This world is fucked up in lots of ways, but that doesn’t mean you should paint me with the same brush as the child rapist…why does it have to be fucking weird that I work with kids, and enjoy doing so?
I need to calm down. Apologies. I’ll leave you with this video below…which is actually quite topical, and links in nicely. People are up in arms about it (it features an interpretive dance by Shia LaBeouf, and a younger girl), but again this is part of the same problem – people going for the extreme jugular – instantly leaping to sexualise everything, rather than allowing some innocence to remain in this world.
*By the way here I see something almost parental – an inner struggle, possibly in one mind…the child can escape, and live in dreams, but the adult is locked into a cage, unable to live with the same freedom. I thought it was strangely beautiful. Other people find it “creepy”, well – I think it’s creepy that people instantly see a man, and a young girl – and instantly think PAEDOPHILE. That…yeah, that, is horribly creepy.