So I got the story behind the toe. I'm kind of pissed off actually. And more pissed off at myself that I kind of sugarcoated my response.
Remember how I mentioned Mr. Kwan being late to meet me for a smoke on Thursday because of a fight? Well, it wasn't a fight really. One of his third graders hit and really hurt five of his friends. When Mr. Kwan asked him why he had done it, he looked at Mr. Kwan and said, "For fun."
Mr. Kwan kicked him.
I do feel like this is different than when the other teachers whack a first grader in the head with a stick for being two minutes late to class. And, being a third grader, I'm quite sure the boy much more closely resembles a man. But do you know what else I feel? Like it serves Mr. Kwan right.
He told me that all the other teachers knew what had happened already, but he didn't want to tell me because he doesn't think it's good to hit the students. He said that the students now know why his toe is broken and don't respect him anymore. I just stayed quiet when he said that.
It's not about the institution of corporal punishment for me -- it's about having it in you to kick a child (even a large, nearly adult child) in anger. Or anyone, for that matter. Anyway, he'll pay the price, having to wear that stupid boot as a badge of dishonor for over a month. And the next time I see him, when I'm not in as much shock, I will be sure to tell him so. Violence as an answer to violence just doesn't suit my way of thinking, and it almost always comes back to bite you in the ass.
Anyway, I still like Mr. Kwan and everything. Just a little disappointed. It makes it slightly better that he didn't want to tell me because he seems to be ashamed of himself. But I'm not ready to let the issue lie just yet.
At any rate, I'm a bit nervous about some of the attention we've been receiving from other parties in the lunch room lately. This foot thing is cracking me up and for some reason I think I give the wrong impression when I'm suppressing laughter by looking down and looking a bit sheepish. There's been more than one instance of groups of teachers pointing and gesturing while we're having these conversations the last couple of days. I don't know if it's the same mistake my students often make in class -- that because I don't speak Korean, I can't catch on to visual cues in conversation either -- or if they just don't care if they're making a scene. I, myself, would prefer not to make a scene. Or be at the center of one. I'm not inside of a television, and I would prefer not to be treated as if I am.
Today they dropped two extra classes on me and told me only ten minutes ahead of time. They were low classes without a coteacher, but I handled them alright. The nonsense got to an unbearable level, and finally, instead of, "Hey guys. Guys, be quiet. Hey guys. What are you doing?" during the monster drawing, it was just, "HEY! SIT. DOWN. NOW." For some reason, something in my tone or demeanor seemed to scare the shit out of them and they graciously complied, quickly and efficiently. Two students even took it upon themselves to stay after and pick up all the trash and push the chairs in. Sweethearts. I may gain status as a real, respectable teacher yet.
My Friend came back and gave a repeat performance of the "I Love You" dance, this time wearing some seriously dowdy Christmas mittens. He brought his friend who has the biggest, most genuine smile I have ever seen to translate for him. I told the kid his smile was fantastic, and it makes me smile when I see it, and he said, "Trademark!" I can see why.
Then another came in cradling his finger and saying, "Oooosh. Ow. Ow. Oooooosh. Ow." I asked what happened and he mimed someone crushing his hand with his elbow.
I asked, "Who did that to you?"
He said he would be right back and went to get the culprit. I scolded the fiend appropriately. The injured boy left again, and then came back with his finger in a bandage. "Oooosh! OOOOOWWWW! Teacher kiss?"
I don't think so. But nice try.
I showed them the Michel Gondry video for "Fell In Love With A Girl". They stayed and talked for a long time.
After, I was thinking about how odd it is that I fall directly in the middle of the age gap between them and the teachers I socialize with at work. If you want to get technical about it, I'm actually closer in age to the third graders. I was thinking about this because I told them "Fell In Love With A Girl" came out when I was about their age, and they said, "Oh. Very old song." Hey. Fuck you. I'm still a youngblood, in my own right.
And if anyone can tell me what "not that old" sounds like in Korean that's really hilarious, I would be much obliged....