It was a seemingly a mundane day, other than the fact that it was a national holiday in Korealand…the day of Pepero’s (think Pocky sticks…and YES, it’s a national holiday here!! I know most of you are screaming “ARE YOU SERIOUS???” But it’s true. Check out this blog that has an overwhelming thorough amount of information about the day: What is Pepero Day??)
I start the class, as usual and Denny raises his hand to reveal the following situation:
“Denny, do you have a question?”
“Ms. Katie, ear no work!!!”
“What? ear no work? your ear isn’t working?”
Denny very clearly in tears while pulling and rubbing on his ear repeats, “yes, Denny ear, no work!!!”
The next 25 minutes of class was something like watching a lost Mary Poppins flying gracefully through the clouds and landing effortlessly in the land of bizarro where no one spoke language and there were aisles of crying children who could only express their thoughts with their faces.
He kept pulling and rubbing while tears were streaming down his face and all this first grader could muster up was, “one ear no work.”
As I started to panic the other students were trying to understand him with their limited English (They aren’t allowed to speak any Korean in class. Although, come to think of it now, making an exception to that rule would have saved me heartache and time, but it was starting to get chaotic)
I went and asked the front desk staff to come help Denny.
It went from questionable misbehavior to life threatening in exactly two seconds and, as it turned out, the child just had one ear that a was plugged. Now, I don’t know if he had gone somewhere in extreme elevation recently, or perhaps right before walking in to class, or had an ear infection, maybe even having an anxiety attack of some sort, I was starting to freak out a bit. However it ended up being nothing and Denny was fine.
I forget so much that something as simple as air pressure change and being unable to communicate that or maybe experiencing for the first time in his life ever, can be so misconstrued and lost in translation when the language isn’t fully developed.
It slips my mind when I am in this setting day in and day out, that these children are speaking English as a second language. They have a primary language as soon as that bell rings and they walk out. But I digress.
Next time, I think I’ll ask a child first if his parents took him to a far far away land via cool jet before dropping him off in class before I start to panic….that is, after I know he isn’t sick and may have an ear infection.
So I end here with a deep breath and relieved blood pressure, Denny, in all of his glory, in his “special” chair that he visits at least four times a day when he misbehaves or becomes an exceptional distraction to the remaining students, so that both he and his peers can complete the assignment.
P.S. I do love the kid despite this picture. :T