Continuing school stories from my time as a third grade teacher in a village school...
A happy-sad-funny moment... I got a message from one of the teachers from my school saying that one of my students was missing me, and his parents asked if I could call him up once. I felt so special... Missing me? I'd never wanted any of my teachers in school to call me. On the other hand, poor boy. I didn't think my going away would affect them that much.. So on this happy-sad self-important note, I called him.
Me: Hi Sameer, this is Susanna miss.
Him: Miss! How many marks I get in exam?
Me: You did well. Your parents saw your results, no?
Him: Yes, Miss. Miss, you going to America?
Me: Maybe.. but I'll come and say bye to you before I go.
Him: Yes Miss. I'll put phone now?
Me: Um ok.. listen Sameer, call me if you feel...
Buzz. He 'put phone'.
A few days ago school had almost ended, and we stood up to say a prayer. Normally I'll ask them what they want to thank God for, and then I make a prayer for all of us. That day, Shubham went "Miss, Miss, I can say prayer today?" I was touched. This is not just a routine for them anymore.
His prayer went something like this: "Father, thank you for a lovely day (definitely my influence) And for exam. And for the story. And for homework. A-MEN!"
And the kids all respond: "A-MEN!"
The King and The Queen by Sourabh
Once upon a time there lived a king and the Queen. They want a baby. They both pray so many day. And one day they had a baby. They was so happy that they had a baby. They tell to whole kingdom that they had a baby. In another kingdom there lived a prince. The prince wanted to now about the another kingdom. Then he went in the another kingdom. The baby girl was grown up. Then he saw the princess going to her father the king. Then the princess also saw the prince. They both get the true love. And they both get married.
My Secret Identity
Today after a lesson, Sandesh Ingle rushed up to me to tell me...
"Miss you are Yellow Power ranger!"
"Yes Miss! You look like Power ranger!"
They had to convice me that Yellow power rangers aren't really yellow, can be female, and wear a nose ring and their hair clipped back.
And after that,
"Miss, you can fly?"
Of course I can, Shubhangi! It's because I am your teacher,and therefore omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient....I can do ANYTHING!
Is it funny or scary that some of my kids at school have running fueds with crows? Sandesh told me a story about a crow he used to throw stones at, who chased him into a toilet... and another one chasing his 5 year old sister and pecking at her head. Village life.
A couple of days ago, I was talking to a second standard student..
Me: So Yogesh, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Me: what kind of officer? Police officer?
Yogesh: No Miss
Me: Um.. Army officer?
Yogesh (frustrated): NO miss! Officer!
Yogesh (explaining to Dumb Teacher): I want to be officer! I sit on chair and I say 'Bring this file!' and 'Bring that file!'
Me: Ohhhhhh, that kind of 'officer'.
How come I didn't get to do that when I was working in an office?
A few days ago my class was talking about Hitler. They had never heard of him, but I explained he was a bad bad man who had killed many people. They looked a little worried, and then Sourabh asked me-
"Hitler is die now?"
When I assured them that yes, Hitler died many years ago, they heaved a collective sigh of relief and dismissed his badness from their minds.
We also talked about Mother Teresa. I told them that she had rescued abandoned baby girls, because some people didn't want their baby daughters...
Sourabh: She no had sons?
Me: No, she wasn't married- she worked for God by helping poor people.
Amit: You cannot have baby without being marriage?
Me: (briefly considering out of wedlock babies, and then thinking TMI) Er, no.
Jay: How babies come, Miss?
Me: (borrowing from my mother's techniques) You'll find out when you're older.
Sneha: Miss, I know! My mother...
Me: (hastily) Never mind, let's get back to the topic!
Oh, the dangers of teaching eight year olds!
We've been singing 'Come and go with me to my Father's house; and I've tried to explain to the kids that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them very much. The words of the song are:
Come and go with me to my Father’s house!
It’s a big, big house with lots and lots of rooms.
There’s a big, big table with lots and lots of food,
And a big, big field where we can play football.
It’s a big, big house. It’s my Father’s house!
So I told them about heaven...
Me: It's a beautiful place with lots of lovely things, and there's no sadness.. nobody cries, everyone's happy... and there's good food, and nice houses for everyone... but best of all, you get to be with your Father who loves you very, very much... When you go there, He'll say 'Welcome Sandesh, I've been waiting for you' and He'll give you a big hug (giggles from the kids)
Sandesh (big grin, starry eyes): Miss, when can we go there?
Me: When you die... when you grow old..
Jay: No, I'll take a big chaku (knife) and I'll (makes stabbing motions into his stomach) and I'll go there.
Me: NO! No! That doesn't count! Then you WON'T go to heaven! Suicide is bad, do you hear me, bad! No chakus!
Other thoughts from eight year old minds on God...
Me: God is everywhere.. He can see you all the time.
Sourabh: Can he see the children in Delhi?
Sandesh: But how? He's here? (Swiping the air in front of him) How?
Me: He's God! He can do anything.
Sandesh: But how?
Aditya: Can the robbers kill God?
Me: No.. how can they? They can't see Him.
Aditya: Miss , the robbers die, and they take guns with them, and go to heaven and kill God?
Me: No! They can't do that!
We haven't yet gone into our physical bodies remaining on earth when we die.
Even though 'India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters', there are many things I see in India which seem to me 'curiouser and curiouser'.
One time in my class, two little boys banged their heads together. Immediately one of them turns to spit... Luckily I spotted the signs and shrieked 'SANDESH I, what are you doing??? NO spitting! Especially not in class!'
The whole class had to get together and explain to their idiot teacher that he HAD to spit. Why? Beause he had hit his head. If he did NOT spit, a large lump would develop on his head.
Nonsense, I said.
So for the next 5 minutes Sandesh I collected spit in his mouth and waited for me to get distracted, while I went 'Swallow it! Swallow it!'
I won in the end.
The other day during the morning break, I was overcome with sleepiness (probably something to do with a book I couldn't put down and no self-control the previous night). So I put my head on my desk, closed my eyes and ignored my 13 monsters completely. They didn't really know how to react at first. Shubham settled them for me. While a few went 'Miss, miss', and I ignored them, in a shrill hyper voice, Shubham stuttered 'E-EVERYONE KEEP QUIET! M-MISS HAS A HEADACHE!'
Thank you, Shubham.
What does it tell you about my children that all their jokes begin with the line 'There was a Marathi teacher and a English teacher'?
One thing about my class is that you can get serious hearing damage from the constant barrage of 'Mees!' 'Mees mees!' 'Mees mees!' 'Mees!'
It drives Jewells (our American volunteer) crazy.
So one time when it got too much, she got into the face of one little annoyer, Shubham..
Jewells: Mees mees mees mees mees mees mees mees!!!
Shubham (with his fingers on his temples and a pained look): Sorry, miss.
Me: The Gram Panchayat records births and marriages.. You know what marriage is? Shaadi..
The kids: (Giggles) Yes miss, we know..
Me: When you grow up, you'll get married...
The kids: (In horror) NO, miss!
Me: Why not? Your mummy and daddy are married, no?
The kids: Yes miss... but I not marriage!
Me: C'mon, don't you want to have little babies?
The kids (hiding their faces and giggling and shuddering): NO, mees!
Me: But they're so cute! My sister got married and has a cute baby!
The kids: You have a baby, mees?
Me: No my sister does. I'm not married.
The kids: Why, mees?
Me: Because I can't find a nice boy.
The kids (more horror and hiding of faces): MEEES!!!
Everything I teach in my class has to be tested... by the kids.
Me: How are human beings different from animals? We can use our thumbs to do many things.. like write. Animals can't!
Kids: I can! Look, look!
All the kids start writing without using their thumbs...
Me: Well, it's not neat! And you can't.. um.. tie your laces without a thumb.
The kids: I can! I can!
Three kids on the floor trying to tie their laces without their thumbs.
The kids: See miss, see miss! I can do it!
Me: You're not! Sandesh, you ARE using your thumb! Aargh! There, you did it again!
I think they believed me in the end.
Me: If it weren't for gravity, we'd all be floating around... If I throw this duster up, where does it go?
The kids: Down!
I throw the duster up.
It falls down.
And then they all start throwing stuff up in the air.
Me: If I jump up, I have to come down!
Sandesh I: No miss, I don't come down! See! See!
He holds his feet off the ground by hoisting himself up by the arms on two desks.