Ten Minutes

That’s actually all it takes for me to lose my mind.

TEN. MINUTES.

Ten minutes for me to go from positive, smiling, encouraging, this-is-fun-isn’t-it-children, happy and enthusiastic kindergarten teacher to rage-filled, beyond irritated, snapping, will-you-all-just-shut-the-feck-up, stressed out monster of fury. Ten minutes.

Every Thursday is the same. I hate teaching art to 5 year olds, or at least to these 5 year olds. I HATE IT. Why are they so incredibly infuriating?!

Now, granted, I don’t exactly remember being 5 years old. I have precisely one specific memory of being that age, in Miss Logan’s class. It is of the morning I overheard Richard Gordon’s mum telling the teacher that he had a bit of a dicky tummy, and Miss Logan said he should just run out to the toilets if he needed to. In my head, somehow, this got a little confused and I was convinced that the rules had changed and we were all now free to come and go as we pleased. Halfway through the morning, I decided to get up and go to the toilets, and was almost at the door when Miss Logan stopped me with an incredulous “And where do you think you’re going?”. Stuttering and stammering, I explained my error, and she laughed and gently explained that Richard was exempt from the rule just this once. (Incidentally, I guess the reason this memory stayed with me is that I was embarrassed… there was a whole other post about that!)

The important thing to take away from this is that I made a mistake, I did something wrong, the teacher told me it was wrong, and I would never in a million years have dreamt of getting up and doing it again 2 minutes later. As far as I remember, other than the occasional disobedient brat, we 5-year-olds understood when we weren’t to do something, and generally proceeded to, you know, stop doing it.

Flash forward to the present day, and I am now the teacher, in a classroom of children who are apparently incapable of rational thought or normal social conduct. Fortunately, the children I teach every day are mostly well-behaved and obedient, but the other classes are filled with children who genuinely make me want to tear my own hair out while gurgling nonsensically and pouring an entire bottle of vodka down my throat. I would not have lasted so long in this job if I had been given those classes as “mine”. Luck of the draw. They are out of control, and the only shred of comfort in the situation is that I only see them once a week, for art class.

So, allow me to describe those ten minutes for you. I recently wrote a post entitled “Thursday”, which gave a summary of the entire day, but now I feel I need to zoom in on how I descend so quickly into such desperate and hellish insanity. Ten minutes. That is all.

In they come, usually yelling their fecking heads off, even if it’s just to say hello. Good morning, I say brightly. Please don’t shout. Good morning!

They continue to shout, and usually swarm around my desk, poking at the desk tidy, lifting pages, touching my fecking coffee mug. Everybody sit down, I say in a kind, calm, but firm voice. Please don’t touch my desk. 

{At this point I want you to pause to remember that this exact same thing happens every single week. This is not a new occurrence; these are not unfamiliar instructions. These are rules that were set out in the first week of school, and have been repeated every week since then. This exact scenario has been taking place every Thursday for an entire year. And yet, every week, it’s like it’s brand new information.}

Good morning. Don’t shout. Please don’t touch my desk. Do not touch teacher’s desk. This is my desk. You sit at your desk. Sit down. Don’t shout. Good morning. 

By this stage my smile is fading slightly but I am still determined that This Week Will Be Different.

Meanwhile, the battle over chairs has begun. Awwww-awww-awww-AWWWWWWW-awwwwwwww! they’re going. Awwwww-awwww-AWWWWWWWW! 

Fecking FECK.

Don’t fight. Be nice to others. There are lots of chairs. Just sit down on an empty chair. Stop fighting. Sit down, sit down, sit down. 

Once they’re all seated and the volume has died down to a mild roar, I try to start the class as if nothing has happened to start the irritation coursing through my veins. Not that they fecking listen.

Stop talking. Listen to the teacher. Turn around. Look at me. LOOK AT ME. Listen. Stop talking. 

By the time they’re all looking and listening, and I can start the lesson, we are already five minutes into the class and two thirds of the way through my patience and positivity.

…so when you finish this step, wait for me to come help you, OK? Just stop, clean up, and wait. Do not shout “Teacher!”. I will help you, one by one. But please, please, please, DON’T SHOUT. Please. No shouting. Shouting: NO. Do not shout. I don’t want to hear “Teacher!”. Don’t shout “Teacher!”. Shouting “Teacher!”: NO. No no no no no. NO. No “Teacher!”. NO. Understand?

This is accompanied by miming and a Seriously-I-Really-Mean-It sort of expression and tone. Every fecking week.

They nod. They understand. They could not possibly fail to understand, seriously. I start giving out the materials. Three… two… one…

Teacherrrrrrrrrrr!

I turn around so quickly to look for the offender that I practically give myself whiplash. He genuinely appears to have no idea why I look stupefied and beyond furious.

What did I just say?! Just now?! 

I repeat the entire thing. For the ga-fecking-zillionth time, I demonstrate the concept of raising a hand for attention. I finish giving out the materials.

Teacherrrrrr! Teacherrrrrrr! Pink crayon is no! Scissors not good! Teacherrrrr! Lucy is no share. Teacher, teacher! Teacherrrrrrrrr!

Oh. My. Fecking. Feck. I want to scream. Every time it happens, I repeat my “Shouting “Teacher!”: NO! No no no no no.” spiel. Five seconds pass, and it happens again. It is like the Chinese water torture, only Korean instead of Chinese and shouts of “Teacherrrrr!” instead of dripping water. The resulting insanity is the same.

Ten minutes. After just ten fecking minutes on a Thursday morning, I am the crazy woman standing in the middle of the classroom, spinning wildly in circles with her hands clutching at her hair as she howls “STOP! SHOUTING! TEACHER!”.

Ten minutes.

I’m pretty certain that, even many years from now, I’m still going to be waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, fighting off blanket-children and screaming “Stop shouting “Teacherrrrrrrrr!””…

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