30 January 2011

Why would they bring a knife to see the baby Jesus?

(Published 25 December 2010)

Merry Christmas everyone!  It is Christmas day here is Surat Thani, Thailand.  In the morning you will wake to presents, cookie crumbs, the smell of pine needles, the sounds of ripping paper and those familiar songs you dust off once a year.  I woke to drink a cup of coffee, clean the house, run errands, workout and write a blog.  Such is life on the other side of the world.  Christmas is known here but its emotional and cultural significance is not truly understood.  I take that back, the kids get it; presents, no class, sweet stuff; these are things deep-seeded into the language of the little ones.

There were no classes yesterday at Joy Bilingual School, just celebrations and gift giving.  I got my very first teacher coffee mug.  Weird.  Happy.  I don’t always love being a teacher.  Sometimes it is frustrating.  Other times it is brilliant.  Yesterday was brilliant.  I didn’t have to be strict I just got to slip into Uncle Mike mode and play around.  I got to watch my students perform dance routines and sing songs and play games.  They are adorable kids, especially when I don't have to Shhhh! them over and over and over and...

As part of the show the Farang teachers performed a short play about the Nativity scene.  (We were going to do both a Nativity play and a Father Christmas play, but we realized that the "So Jesus got fat, flew deer and moved to the North Pole with midgets?" questions would be both assured and impossible to answer.)  In the Nativity play I had the role of the “Little Soldier” a Roman soldier who witnessed the whole Jesus in the manger thing.  I didn’t have a full costume, just a green and gold plastic sword slung through my belt.  After the performance one of my students called me over and asked, “Teacher Michael, why would they bring a knife to see the baby Jesus?”  What I wanted to say was, "Jesus Christ kid what kind of Christmas question is that?"  However, the irony of the statement was apparent even in my inner monologue so I went with something equally ridiculous, “Knife?  It’s a sword!”  (Then the Little Soldier ran away. )

Remember MadLibs?  I loved MadLibs.  But, even at the height of my 10 year-old creative powers I couldn't hold a candle to the accidental fill-ins of ESL students.  I was grading Science midterms this week and the final question (referring to Magnets) was, “When two objects________ they ________ each other.”  Grasping at straws a Thai fourth grader added the only two metal objects she could think of, scissor and fork, making the sentence, “When two objects scissor they fork each other.”  I marked it incorrect and laughed for five minutes straight.

I am going to keep this one short, it is Christmas after all.  I hope everyone has a wonderful day.  Enjoy spending time with your family and friends, enjoy your new gifts, and know that here on the other side of the world I will be bombing around on my scooter singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at the top of my lungs, happy and in the holiday spirit!