Poo-Poo Monkey

You know…the unfair thing about playing with kids is…well, it’s unfair. 

You enter into the game like any other – thinking it will be a level playing field (because that’s how games should be right?!) but you quickly find it will be anything but. Like today I was instructed I was a “Poo-Poo Monkey” that was running amuck in a nearby zoo, and needed to be eliminated for poop crimes. I have no idea where this story came from, or even what exactly poop crimes are…but one can assume they are not good, or at the very best – very messy. 

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But you know what? I didn’t fuss, or fight it – I decided to take on the role as best as I could…like an actor who is just starting out, hungry and desperate to impress; I thought maybe if I do a good believable rendition of the Poo-Poo Monkey perhaps later I would be able to demand better, more prestigious roles! What can I say?! Gotta be positive, we only get one life after all!

However on the strength of today’s scenes the possibility is looking less, and less likely. To my disappointment it was just fifteen minutes of pure poop-filled carnage; me running around, getting pulled to the ground by eight grasping weirdly strong hands, having my clothes stretched out of size, and subjected to a constant stream of foul putrid gas. Beyond unprofessional working conditions! 

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Oh, but no! The stench was always blamed on me…because I was the Poo-Poo Monkey! Totally unfair stereotype…just because of my name I was being tarred immediately with every negative connotation that can occasionally be attributed to folks of that sort. (If they weren’t fictional creations of course!) 

My main problem despite the blame-game was the odor itself…I mean…I just didn’t understand – what the hell are these kids eating?! It was like what I imagine old people’s homes smell like. If I had to give a rough recipe I would say…sardines? In vinegar. Burnt. Then rotten eggs swirled into the mixer for good measure. Oh yeah, and a dash of Nutella. 

You can see how frequent this must happen, seeing as though I practically have a cookbook in the works! What is my life? This wasn’t in the contract anywhere…

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Well now it is written – life isn’t fair, especially when it comes to games with the little’uns! SO yes…now for better or worse, you all know it. Go spread the word, and never agree to play the Poo-Poo Monkey…it’s just not worth it!

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Lost Child

Gotta tell you this one real quick…it’s a story I was told just yesterday – drama central over here trust me!

So there’s a larger school near the kindergarten I work at…and the parents are up in arms at the moment – full pitchfork and flaming torches kinda deal (well you know, metaphorically!) …news travels fast here with a dedicated community of Mothers in place to spread stories, as and when necessary! And boyyyy, is it necessary!

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Usually such upset is over trivial matters…but the latest is pretty ridiculous I have to admit, and the uproar levels are definitely justified; let me cut to the chase…one of the students (five years old I think) was on the school bus home…when he decided to have a little snooze! I mean, there’s nothing better right? You wake up, and you are at your destination! Perfect! 

Ingeniously he decided to stretch out over a couple of chairs for maximum comfort! And slowly but surely the bus made its way around the student’s homes…and before long there was no one in it ! Apart from the driver, and that little sleeping chap in the back of course…

Well the driver wasn’t the most screwed on fella in the world (it seems) – because he eventually finished his usual route, did one little look back and saw no one…so then proceeded to drive the bus to the school’s shelter and head on out into the night! Naturally an hour or so later the boy woke up to nothing but darkness, wondering just where the hell he was!

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Thankfully the door of the bus was open – so the petrified boy was able to free himself from his prison…but that only meant he was in a strange place, with no idea how to get home. It’s basically the kindergarten version of The Shawshank Redemption. Poor lad. So all he had left in his arsenal was to wander these unfamiliar streets, whilst crying out loud. This went on for an hour or so apparently.

Finally the police asked him what the hell was going on. Or words to that effect I imagine! And were able to get in touch with his parents…who were freaking out. Like Drake getting kissed by Madonna levels of freaking out. 

Anyway, important info is – he’s coming to our school now! Feels kind of intriguing, he has an air of something about him…he is the boy who lived! Not quite Harry Potter, but definitely someone with a story to tell…just think of the things he must have seen on that detour of his! The bus seats…the pavement…the…well okay, it’s bland when I put it like that!

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But come on! HARRY POTTER IS COMING TO OUR SCHOOL! REJOICE!

In unrelated news, we now have a strict seat-belt policy for the kids, and a final check procedure when the bus is finishing its route. But as I say…totally unrelated. 

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Hot Wheels!

We made wooden cars in class the other day…and as we all know, science-backed scientific research has proven flame designs make any car go faster. So obviously mine was the fastest.

Flame Car

Aaron’s really got the mean-mug look down!

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Boring, and Bored!

I’ve been asked to provide five possible short stories, which display language errors – for a Korean made English language book – I suppose the aim is to point out possible mistakes that could be made, so that English learners don’t have to make them personally! Anyway, I have to get them done by Sunday! Phew, that’s a lot of work! So yeah, rough and ready; here is the 2nd of 5*: 

When you’re teaching it’s unrealistic to assume that your classes will always be fun – after all a mixture of terrible unrelatable subject matter, and poorly written books, can equal a nightmare for even the most enthusiastic teacher!

I recall once with a middle school class, the lesson was based around the Canadian governmental system…yeah, exactly…why? The books were made in Korea, which made it even more unusual – I just wasn’t sure how this was something that would benefit English language learners – actually I thought it was likely to confuse them if anything! But I was told this was what I had to do – in short, I basically had no choice. So I did what I could, and planned some fun activities surrounding the text…but we had to get through the heavy reading first.

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This wasn’t fun for me, and it certainly wasn’t fun for them! But we stuck with it, I mean the lesson would finish eventually – right? The clock seemed to be ticking backwards, but surely that was just my imagination…it had to be…

Anyway – so on, and on, and on, the reading droned – something about elections, and votes, and private, and public…finance, and…well I don’t know…it all sounded like “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH” to me…I could see the students scratching their heads, wondering what evils they had committed to deserve this punishment…

That was when, out of nowhere – the girl who was reading erupted – I suppose her limit had been reached, and she could take no more! “TEACHER I’M SO BORING!” She collapsed into her forearms, and started to whinny like a dying horse. I tried to be as sympathetic as I could muster, and explained that she wasn’t boring – the book was just boring, and that she shouldn’t take it personally.

She didn’t look convinced, but I told her to continue, and commented that she had been doing well so far…but nope, she flatly refused; “NO, NO, NO! I’M TOO BORING! I CAN’T READ…NOT MORE!”

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I’d lost the class – they were all probably running low on sugar, and discussions about politics, and systems they didn’t even understand hadn’t helped! So I took over the reading – and my goodness was it a drab pain-fest. I was both bored – which is surely a given – but also felt more boring for having read it.

So yeah, despite my student seemingly misunderstanding the difference between the two words, (boring, and bored) in a way – it had made complete, and total sense!

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(you can check out the 1st of 5, here.)*

Cock Please

I’ve been asked to provide five possible short stories, which display language errors – for a Korean made English language book – I suppose the aim is to point out possible mistakes that could be made, so that English learners don’t have to make them personally! Anyway, I have to get them done by Sunday! Phew, that’s a lot of work! So yeah, rough and ready; here is the 1st of 5: 

Every once in a while, as Korean work culture dictates – the boss will take all of his employees out for a staff dinner. The set menu of this occasion is usually something like; meal, drinks, more drinking, karaoke, more drinking, then slump back to bed wishing you hadn’t had those last few soju shots. It’s a well established formula, and always makes for gossip fueled dramas, as well as silly memories among your work colleagues. Some people dread it, some people love it.

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What I wasn’t expecting to be offered was…errr…something other than food, alcohol, and the microphone…I mean I certainly wasn’t expecting to be offered “a cock”. 

You see there I was…happily chowing down on some grilled meat, and vegetables – when my boss leaned in to my ear – and whispered…“would you like – a cock?” Erm. Errr…well, I was frozen to the spot. I didn’t know what to say – no one wants to be rude to their boss, especially in Korea that is a big no-no! So I asked him to repeat his question…maybe I had misheard?

“Would you like a cock?” 

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No. I hadn’t misheard – that is most definitely what he had said – I looked around for someone, anyone to save me…thankfully I noticed the waiter next to me, and worked out that he actually meant to say Coke, as in Coca Cola! 

“Oh, yes!” I replied – “One cock, please!”

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Fight Club

I would like to think I am a lover, and not a fighter…after all, usually physical conflict doesn’t really solve much when you think about it. Obviously some people make it very tempting, but more often than not, non-peaceful ways to shut them the hell up, are somewhat frowned upon!  Naturally if your dear old Granny was being mobbed by a set of escaped rampant ostriches, you’re probably okay to get the broom out. But in most cases, you’re just likely to get yourself into trouble…

But I was forced to think about this by a guy today – and thanks to his inane question regarding the matter, I’ve been mulling over past bouts ever since…

I only really had one big proper fight at school – which is quite a feat as I went to an all-boys secondary in the North-East of England – not sure how I escaped, I guess I was very good at running away. Anyway, I used to be very embarrassed about its living memory – but now that I look back on it, it was a pretty funny situation, and one which I should have laughed off immediately – rather than getting all defensive about;  you know – blushing, and shrugging whenever anyone asked me about it.

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But back then I lived even deeper in my thoughts than I do now, I didn’t express much, apart from between my nearest, and dearest – stifled by shame, self-consciousness, and a bitter embarrassment regarding just about everything (like, literally.) So this is the first time I’ve told the story to a larger audience…so please bear with me…

It all started on an unassuming school day. I was with my friends on the smaller courtyard, where you could largely avoid the manic hustle, and bustle of the main schoolyard – by which I mean footballs being blasted off your face at every juncture, and/or birds shitting on you in passing, as they scrabbled for the scraps of leftover sandwiches.

That’s not to say it was totally peaceful where we spent our break-times. It was still basically a war-zone…

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Unwanted oranges, apples, and bananas (note: no chocolate was ever thrown) would fly from one end to the other – accompanied with blood-curdling cries, and bellowing swear word strewn sentences, that would even make Vinnie Jones wince.

On the day in question, it appeared to be particularly heated – and the various food items were flying with an increased ferocity. We huddled together, my friends and I, attempting to dip, and dodge any incoming missiles – before scraping them off the floor, and hurling them back. You could only pause momentarily to laugh, should it hit your target – because luxuriate in giggling for too long, and you can be sure that the dirtied tangerine segment would be SPLAT , back in your face!

Food Fight GIF

So it was quite a surprise when I was told that one of our sworn enemies (that day), now wanted to fight me…something about I had thrown a sloppy banana right off his forehead, and for whatever reason he wasn’t too fond of that fact. I didn’t even know who he was…so they pointed him out…of course, yup – just my luck – he was taller, and about four people wider than me. My friends didn’t care, the occasion had pumped them full of testosterone, and all of a sudden they wanted to see blood. A couple of them ran off to tell him I was up for it, as the others tried to make it seem like a great idea:

“He’s a year younger, man…he’s not even THAT big…well okay, he is…but you know – you throw like one punch, and then we all join in – then it’s like seven versus one! No worries  – YOU HAVE TO NOW!” 

NO! I wasn’t going to do it! No…but how to plot my escape out of this situation – could always go out the side-door, yeah…I began to walk away, with several friends still trying to convince me that it was a great idea – I wasn’t having any of it – “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” Someone randomly screamed to my complete horror, and disbelief – before I knew it a crowd had circled in, barring my way out – and there he was, this massive entity. There was no way out of this, I’d never live it down if I ran now…or perhaps I could fake a heart attack…nah, that’s be even worse probably. It was time to face the music. I turned to my fantastic friends, who had basically orchestrated this whole thing – the excitement level for them was clearly off the charts – on the other hand, I was so scared I felt like I may literally shit my pants.

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I looked at my foe – clearly if he got his hands on me, he would literally murder me. One punch from him, and I’d be eating through a straw, for the rest of my life. Couldn’t let that happen. I’d obviously have to try some unusual tactics to avoid him caving my skull in with meaty fists. But what? I had no ideas, so just lunged in there – to no avail, thankfully he missed me too. I turned back to my friends, with a look that said “Jesus Christ – please fucking help you set of complete dickheads” – but no, they just made gestures for me to get a move on.

I was quivering with a fearful kind of excitement, everything was blurred in a mad frenzy – perhaps I would cry, that would be humiliating. Light bulb. I jumped in and booted him in the chest…I pretty much bounced straight off him, cue laughter from the blurs that surrounded me…I tried again, It was literally the only way I could think of to keep distance from this unnatural behemoth. It never worked, I just pinged back as if I was the pinball – and he was the strong flippers at the bottom. He attempted to grab me on numerous occasions, but never quite managed it.

So there I was – just flying in with useless kick, after useless kick. Like a demented version of Kung Fu Panda, but without any of the guile, or charm that makes him admirable. But I had no Plan B – I’d just keep trying this until a teacher would inevitably break it up…after all, there is NO chance any of the onlookers would do anything of the sort. That’d be way too mature, way too sensible.

“OI! WHAT’S GOING ON OVER THERE?!” 

“Oh, thank God” I thought to myself, with a sigh of relief:

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The crowd dispersed, in every direction – and we fled back to our respective corners. But there’s no real code, and soon someone, somewhere had snitched…and the teacher was over next to us, asking questions. “WHO WAS FIGHTIN’? HUH?”  Everyone insisted that nothing had happened, that he had been seeing things…“NO FIGHT? THEN WHY WAS THERE A MASSIVE CROWD? HMM?” One of my friends tried to cheekily claim that the crowd was to do with a Yu-Gi-Oh card, and that it was really rare, so everyone was crowding around to see…inventive, I’ll give him that – but the teacher didn’t buy it. And before long the truth came to light.

We were suspended for the day, the two of us. And while we waited for our parents, we had to sit together – which was awkward…I felt like at any moment he would smash my face through one of the glass cabinets, or at the very least strangle me to death with his banana stained tie. But he didn’t. Just stared at me non-stop, as I squirmed with unease.

Fortunately both my parents were out at work, so it fell to my Grandad to pick me up. Which was a lot less daunting. I slumped into his car, and he immediately wanted all of the details – did I get a good punch in? How big was he? etc, etc! I said he was massive, so I tried to kick him, but it didn’t exactly work out. I thought it best not to mention the fact that I was flying around like a terrible Hong Kong Phooey imitation. And that if I wasn’t so small, he would have probably crushed me to death…

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Anyway, we drove on to my Grandparent’s house, where we had mountains of bacon sandwiches, and gallons of hot sugary tea. My Grandma fussed over me, as Grandmas do – whilst my Grandad made me laugh with Rocky impressions. Later on he called me up to his attic, where he showed me an antique crossbow he had kept hidden for years. “YOU BETTER NOT BE SHOWING HIM THAT CROSSBOW KEITH, IT’S DANGEROUS!” called my Grandma from the kitchen…

He lied, and winked at me – whilst trying to fight back a grin. Then we went back downstairs, and lounged around watching cowboy films for the rest of the day. I suppose in this life, you have to take the good with the bad – and this memory encapsualtes that message entirely for me…it was both the worst day, and the very best day. And for that reason I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. 

Well…perhaps…I wouldn’t have went with the lame kicking technique – would have been nice not to be labelled “Jackie Chan” for the rest of my school-days! But yeah, never mind…

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I’M NOT A PAEDOPHILE.

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!

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Continue reading “I’M NOT A PAEDOPHILE.”

An 8 Year Old’s America

A student of mine handed me this today – announcing; “This is why I don’t like America.” 

America

We had been discussing holidays, and dream destinations – so this wasn’t exactly part of the lesson plan…but I couldn’t exactly fault him, as he was so well informed for an eight year old…particularly as he is Korean, and consequently English is not his first language.

I had him explain his illustrations; gun possession, terrorist attacks, assassinations, drones, gangs, police brutality, and obesity. That is the image foreign parts have of America, a country I know first hand to be a lovely place, filled with positives.

Perhaps more needs to be done to highlight the good, not just the bad – I did what I could with him, but he said he had watched it on the news, and called me a liar. Therein lies the problem, I feel…what do you think?

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Back to the future…

I have just been looking through old photos on my phone, having a little clear out of memes and stupid pictures I seem to accrue for some reason – when I stumbled across this…

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Let me explain. It’s a screenshot of a message that I got from a kindergarten student of mine after he graduated and moved to a different school for first grade. His name is Aden, he was from my first class in Korea: Jupiter Class. To say I love those kids is a ginormous understatement – I almost put loved, but that would imply their impression is no longer felt – which it truly is, they were my best friends, and I cared for them as if they were my own children – I think that is what makes me feel like I am not a teacher at heart, I get too emotionally invested.

(Here’s a pic of us in our prime – from left to right – Katrina, Jackie, Aden, Anant, Zeno, Victoria, Sunny, JJ, Danny)

Aden Pic 3

When it came to them leaving me surprisingly there were not any tears, in fact I was probably the closest – the reason being that I had told them that it wasn’t a big deal, we would see each other again – perhaps sometime soon, perhaps in twenty years – but I made it clear that this wasn’t the end of our story together. We began to talk in hypotheticals, dreaming of the future that could be…“well I am going to have a dougnut shop, so we can all meet up there!” Zeno announced boldly – sounded good to me – and he went on to promise unlimited free doughnuts to every single one of us! Perfect! Katrina burst in asking if it was alright for her to bring her husband along…after some deliberation we agreed we’d allow it. “We can spend the day at my museum!” said Danny, “it’s going to be a shark museum…and glass museum…and poop museum…all together in one!” Well, this was shaping up to be quite a jam-packed little reunion, I’m sure you’d agree, I was already excited!

We spent the rest of our final class laughing and joking, as per usual – it was the perfect end to a perfect time together.

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