I’m teaching kindergarten and pre-school this week. 2-5 year olds. Yes.
On the bus I overheard an American girl and boy, probably university exchange students, probably in their third year, talking. One of those conversations that is impossible to tune out, no matter how you try. No matter how many threatening “I understand you, annoying guiris” glances you send back at them. I was deep into Sputnik Sweetheart and wanted a quality 20 minutes of uninterrupted bus reading time before delving back into 3-year-old-la-la land.
They were sitting at the back of the bus, and I was exactly in the middle. It was an ordinary bus, not one of those OC Transpo style giant articulated monsters, but still, with enough space that other people’s voices, the noise of the bus running and the sounds of traffic should have been enough to drown out a conversation from that far away. Mais non.
Girl, who thought herself very experienced and sophistiquée, was giving advice and admonitions to boy. Girl: “You haven’t hooked up with anyone since you’ve been here. Name one person you hooked up with!” Boy: mutters something unintelligible Girl: “You haven’t hooked up with anyone. You’re going to regret that. If you leave here without hooking up, you’ll regret it.” Boy: “I might regret that down the line” Girl: “You will. So why don’t you just do it!? Just hook up with someone!”
Mmmnngggh shut up before I bash your heads together!
Then again, the lack of originality was fitting since Sputnik Sweetheart seems to be essentially the same story as The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, with the same devices, in a different setting. I’m not sure if criticizing Murakami is a permissible thing, but there I go. This week has me feeling very competent. Short segments of time spent with three-year-olds (45 minutes or so) can have the effect of making you feel like a very capable human being. My experience.
Anyway, eventually the bus ride ended, and I got to school.
And this is the story of how I bit someone. A child, to be exact.
I have a poster of a park up on the wall, and the kids stick little pictures on it. We’re learning toys, so there are pictures of cars, teddy bears, balls, dolls, etc. For some reason, the kids LOVE this game. Can’t get enough of it. Isn’t that strange? It’s kind of boring. But they adore it. They were coming up in pairs. The group was sitting on the floor and kept inching closer, and closer, and closer to me and my tiny five-year-old sized chair and the poster. Soon they were right there, and sticking their hands up in front of my face and shouting “Me! Me! Me!*” to get a turn to go next.
If this is doesn't look like the best game ever, you are probably not 3 years old.
And then it happened. It wasn’t a hand in front of my face. It was a little hand, with little fingers, in my face. And as it shot up there, I guess my mouth was closing. And as it got to its destination, one of the tiny fingers somehow got trapped, for the slightest fraction of a second, between my teeth.
The kid connected to the hand looked up in shock and surprise. He wasn’t sure if he should cry out or shut up, and in the next couple seconds he looked like he was weighing out his options. I think he decided that he probably shouldn’t have had his hand there anyways, and that he would be quiet and wait his turn.
At least I think that’s what was going through his mind. Maybe it was actually more like “Did the weird English teacher just bite my finger? Discuss.”
To conclude: I have been washing my hands like a maniac. Dry skin abounds. If I get to the end of the week without a new cold it’ll be a miracle. Kids are dirty and sometimes stick their fingers in your mouth.
Artwork depicting toys, by the five-year-olds
* It started, of course, as “Yo, yo, yo!” but I corrected them to say “me,” at the very least.