How to WIN/LOSE Arguments with Kids!

There is nothing more frustrating than neverending arguments with kids…especially with adults who don’t really have a clue what the hell they are even talking about (which if we are honest is most of us)…

But I’m here to help. Well, I’ll give it my best shot anyways…

Errrrrr…good luck…

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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The Struggling Artist (USA)

USA – Atlanta, Georgia ~2010

As a kid I could sit at the kitchen table for hours and hours drawing – whether it was superheroes, monsters or my teachers – my imagination was my own limit, and I did it all on reams of cheap copier paper (my Dad “knew a guy”)…unfortunately this passion was sidelined to the meager position of hobby once I was pushed into university. Sad times, but that’s life I guess. OR SO I THOUGHT!

After I was accepted to the Georgia State exchange programme, I was told that there was next to no limitation on what I could select for my classes, and that it would all count towards my degree. Four hours of art? No problem! So yes, not only would I be checking out if the food portions really are that much bigger (British people are fascinated by this for some reason), but I would also be enjoying four hours of unadulterated drawing every week, and it would actually be worth something! Drawing?! Obviously, I thought I was well on my way to becoming the next BIG THING…all sorts of thoughts flooded through my head; maybe I should change my name to Salvador…or maybe I should start wearing some weird shit to throw people off…or maybe I should invent something life changing – how about, a sandwich, that never runs out?

Genius GIF

Well I was getting a little ahead of myself, clearly. But it was fantastic news nonetheless.

Let’s fast forward a little bit…so it’s a warm summer day in downtown Atlanta, I’m certainly looking the part of “artist”; that is to say I am lugging an obnoxiously large art folder with me and I have a regrettable hat defying gravity on the back of my skull, possibly cut off jean shorts? Who knows. Basically, I looked liked the kind of guy you would strongly dislike on first sight, the kind of guy who invited and endorsed that kind of bitter prejudice. The kind of guy…well you get the point.

Surprising then, that as I am standing at the “sidewalk”, a busy looking business man runs up to me and grabs me by the shoulders…”EXXXXX-EXXXX-EXCUUZ ME?!” he stammered, in a caffeinated flurry. “Err?” I manage to reply.  “ARRR YOU AN, ARTIST?” I pause for some time due to sheer confusion, you see I wasn’t sure if taking an art class and holding a folder meant that I was a fully fledged “artist” (whatever that means)…but then I remembered I was wearing a hat and cut off jean shorts, so I landed on a definite…

“YES.!”

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AWESOME! I NEED AN INSTALLATION DOING, LIKE…SOON! DO YOU HAVE YOUR CARD?!

“Ah. No. I don’t have one of those.”

DO YOU HAVE…A NUMBER THEN?

“Ahhh, no. I don’t have one of those either.”

DO YOU HAVE A SPARE PIECE OF PAPER THEN?

“Sorry, no. I need this for my-”

WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE?

And that was that. He stormed off into the cosmopolitan crowd never to be seen again. He probably found another person wearing a hat, who DID have a card, or a phone number, or a piece of paper, or a fully functioning brain. Anyway, after this I carried on to my class and immediately told my teacher what had happened…she seemed intrigued, and asked me to repeat the exact specifics of the encounter at least a couple of times – after which she looked at me closely with comforting eyes, held my quivering hands in hers and with a reassuring tone said…

“You fucking stupid bastard.”

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And that was the first and last day I ever considered myself to be, an artist. It was a tough gig guys, not for me.

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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!”

No No NO GIF

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.

Dunno GIF

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?” 

Ralphie Shock GIF

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.

Godfather GIF

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.

Bloodthirsty GIF

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.”

Language Barrier

I struggle on an almost daily basis with the language barrier.

Now you may be fooled into thinking that this is simply a vague metaphor…a creation of our imagination to describe a certain feeling, when we cannot deliver our thoughts to another human. Well I can tell you now that the language barrier, is so very real – although I’d probably describe it as a language battering ram, if anything! As it hits me with such force, and leaves me very, very confused…with no idea what to do next…

Confused Guy GIF

I’m trying my best to learn Korean, but it is all happening very slowly…I need someone to constantly lie to me, you know…tell me I am amazing even though I am terrible, otherwise I just feel like setting myself on fire in protest. Or at least ripping up the book, and quitting.

I remember one time I spent ten minutes, trying to get the Korean pronunciation for syrup right in a cafe…sheerop, shurop, sherrup, shar…errr…in the end I just pointed, and smiled. The lady immediately understood: “ahhhhh, shueropu?” Yeah, sure. Whatever. Urghhh! 

It certainly makes me thankful for being back in the UK, where I can freely speak English without the language battering ram smashing into my face – reminding me how stupid I am, and how my pronunciation makes me sound “like a crazy alien” (actual quote from a bemused Korean guy).

Crazy Alien GIF

Funnily enough, I have just read a story on this subject which intrigued me a lot! You see apparently a young man was in some kind of horrific accident…the news said it was a car crash, but we know that we can’t ever fully trust the news – what is more likely is that it was the language battering ram! The reason I say this is that the guy woke up from a coma, and for some bizarre reason he found he could speak fluent Chinese. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT?! And now he is working over there on television! I mean, I wish my Korean tutor would have told me it was that easy!!!!

I have to run, I am off to play in traffic! Wish me luck! 

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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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