Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Talk Too Much

As I leave the building today, four of my sixth graders grab me to talk about Important Sixth Grade Matters. (Do I think that Cindy's personality is changing?) This leads into quite a discussion.

Now, Nam and his other motorbike driver (xe om) buddies hang out across the street from the school and wait for their "people" to emerge from the building. Have I mentioned how difficult it is to tell someone at 7 am when you want to be picked up in the afternoon? This requirement leaves no room for spontaneity. Also, to understand the rest of this story, you should know that there is a definite "space" between drivers and drivees, I guess you could say. They wait, and wait, across the street, if necessary, until you are ready to go.

So I am already a little bit past my requested pick-up time when the girls engage me in this conversation. After a bit, out of the corner of my eye, I see Nam cross the street and pull up next to me. He says something to Jessica with a little grin, and I am a little surprised that he has crossed the street (and the line so to speak). She laughs at what he says. She repeats it to everyone and all the girls laugh.

"What did he say?" I ask her.

"He says you talk too much," she says.

Nam is laughing at his joke, and, I think, at his boldness. I give him a look of mock surprise. "Oh really?"

And then, it's so funny, he begins to talk with the girls, mostly about our Christmas break, I think, but he just keeps talking and talking. They aren't even translating for me - what they are saying doesn't seem to concern me at all.

So after a minute of this, how can I not say to Jessica, "Tell him he talks too much."

She does this and he lets out one of his belly laughs.

"Tell her she must say 'I'm sorry' to her driver!" he responds. I refuse, and I tell him he must say sorry to me, and it goes on like this for a minute.

Then he pulls another joke. Since they were talking about break, he says to Jessica, "Tell her that if she doesn't apologize, she can get one of those guys over there to drive her when she gets back." He points across the street - Get him --or him, --or him.

I can't believe how sarcastic he is being. I'm just laughing. "Ok," I say, "I'll take him!"

Nam belly-laughs again and puts his hand out to shake with me on an even score in our cross-cultural dissing session.

He is endless entertainment.

At the beginning of this week, I didn't have that "I am so ready for a break" feeling. But now I have it. Really bad.

Teaching sixth grade has been so much fun this past month. I have really enjoyed ancient Egypt and I hate to leave it. Both of my ancient classes have transformed themselves into a family of Egyptian gods and goddesses. We read a lot of myths, and as the kids read them, they read like this: "Then Joe (Ra) put a curse on Helen (Nut) so that she couldn't have any children."

Or "Then Tom's (Osiris') evil brother Khanh (Seth) made him a special coffin that only he could fit into..."

Every single kid can replace the name of his or her classmate's god identity as we read. They know who their grandparents, grandchildren, husbands, wives and enemies are. It's really so much fun to walk into this world every day. When the bell rings they must have their god nametag on to get a point, and they really scramble to get this done. And after we read sections of the story, I have them make a freeze frame, on or around their desks. "OK, everyone, you have two minutes..." and again, they scramble to make a tableau of what they have just read. They are so funny and creative with it. Last week, one of the guards came in to tell Baby Horus (Jack) that he should be studying instead of lying on the floor with a baby (water) bottle in his mouth. The kids had to tell him that we were studying.

And in English, we just finished reading The Tale of Despereaux (coming out in theaters in America today, so I have heard..). A really cute story about a mouse with big ears on a quest...we had a class set of the books photocopied right down the street. It's great, not having to follow copyright laws (Rita, how do you feel reading that)? We did a reader's theater thing where kids were assigned parts and read the dialogue, so good for ESL kids. After break, we will turn it into a play and present it to the primary school.

Well, tonight and tomorrow I sleep in Saigon, but then I will be sleeping in Cambodia, then Laos, then Thailand. Did I mention that I am so ready for a break? And did I mention that I talk too much?


Tim Baker said...

Marjie You write a very good blog. I'll buy the book when it comes out. Enjoy your much deserved holidays

Brian Bowker said...

Marjie - you are so cool! When the guard came in to reprimand one one of the kids for doing what you'd asked him, it just made me think of Dead Poet's Society. You ARE John Keating I think!

The Norris Clan said...

I am so excited for you to have a break. I so wish I was going to be in Laos in warm weather... we are in the middle of a blizzard! Have a wonderful time!

Amy T said...

'Scuse me Marj, for a moment:

Brian, keep in mind that John Keating got his fanny fired when he encouraged free thinking.

"Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."

Cheers, Marj, and happy new year!

Mungo said...

You talk too much.