Children. They’re cute, cuddley, and they sure do say the darndest things. They are the hope of the future, the light of their family’s lives, and blessed with an innocence so pure, it’s hard on everyone when it shatters. They also are wreak havoc on my mental health and make me crawl into a corner in cry in frustration. True story.
I can understand the desire to want to have a little mini-you, sure. But at this point in my life, toddlers and babies are not high on the things I want to do list. As in hold, feed, entertain, and listen to scream. I know that I have to tolerate their existence until they grow into intellectual, free-thinking beings like my fourth, fifth, and sixth graders (love them), but until then, please don’t insert them into my life. Or leave me with them in small, enclosed areas. It’s better for everyone.
This feeling has only escalated since arriving in Thailand (the KOT? the Thaidom? I’m trying to come up with abbreviations for Thailand, what do you like?). Many children here are naturally shy around someone who looks so different from every other person they’ve ever seen or interacted with. Most also don’t tend to get the fact that I only pick up about a third of their high-pitched, whiny, rapid speech and then get frustrated when I don’t give them what they want. But let’s face it, I wouldn’t give in to them even if I did understand them because as everyone knows, never negotiate with terrorists.
When there have been the brave few that do come up to me, almost always in groups, there is usually so much giggling, staring, and lack of response to my questions that I often feel like I’m either a stand-up comedian or the new exhibit at the zoo. I lean towards the latter.
‘Pish, posh’ you’re thinking, ‘how could she not like these adorable little creatures?’ Hold your freaking horses because we’re getting there. A few months ago, back in a dark period, I was working alone grading tests in the library when a group of kindergarten students came up and plastered their grubby little fingers over the freshly cleaned glass door asking what I was doing and if I could play with them. I indulged their questions with a smile and a laugh, but told them I couldn’t because I was working. They stood there. I smiled. They giggled. A minute goes by, nothing has changed. So I said, go on then, and they ran off.
But then came back, louder and bolder. I was starting to get frustrated. They’d never pull this shit with any of the other teachers. When I stood up to herd them off, they took off running and laughing manically. I don’t remember how many times they came back, I stood up, they ran off again. After twenty solid minutes of this, I had enough and chased them down to the playground and had some choice words. No idea how much they understood of my Thai, but you know who did? The big kids! My sixth grade boys took care of business for me while I went back to the library, hid behind a large bookshelf, and hot tears came bursting out of me.
Believe me, I asked myself plenty of times, how could I allow this to get to me? Their just kids, they don’t know what they’re doing, and there’s that Eleanor Roosevelt quote that I love about inferiority to contend with. Now though, I’ve learned my lesson. The only thing to do is fight terror with high-road peace making terror.
With my coteacher’s nephew, he was none too pleased about my presence in the car this past week. And made sure everyone knew it. At the top of his lungs, he let everyone know that they were to not allow me to come back home with them, announced that I was the ugliest person in the vehicle, and smacked my shoulder to get my attention when I started to ignore him. Alright smart aleck, two can play this game.
Realizing I went a little overboard at Tesco Lotus and not having the hands to carry all my treats, I spied the four-year old about to pull down a display of cartoons. Averting further terrorist attacks for the good of the public at large, I asked him to be a big help and carry the exceedingly heavy load of cereal. And then showered him with compliments about how strong he was and handsome to boot.
Suddenly I had a new best friend that wanted to play hide and go seek all throughout the appliance store as I was trying to find cookware. Choosing the best tactical course, I chose to be the ‘seek,’ finishing shopping whilst he hid quietly before ‘finding’ him at the checkout. In the car ride home, he wanted to sit in my lap and watch cartoons together. I declined, but I think this was a definite win for Team Erin against the emotional hijackers.
President Obama, if you need any help, give me a shout in rural Thailand. I have a lot of experience with radicals. I require payment in pizza.