May 17, 2017

Not much going on. I had a pretty good week with the kids and thought I would share these. We’ve been studying Europe so for their cooking class we prepared a British tea for Mother’s Day. Kiki brought a ton of flowers so the kids could arrange flowers with their moms too.

The air has been nice since we had the OBOR (One Belt One Road) conference in town over the weekend. The traffic has sucked though, and the police have been raiding bars and restaurants all over the city checking people’s passports and checking for drugs. They occasionally crack down but eventually it eases up. Jess and I took a bus a little ways out to Shunyi Saturday to try to escape Beijing for a little while and do some exploring.

Monday, one of my kid’s moms decided to take the whole class out to lunch. She booked a limo van to take us out to this fancy room at a really upscale restaurant with course after course. We had about half a dozen people waiting on us and a private patio with a waterfall and swinging chairs. The kids really got a kick out of it. I enjoyed it to but on the other hand this is the kind of thing that frustrates me about China. People do things like this, partly as a nice gesture, and I give her credit for that, but most of the time it’s also about mianzi, or the Chinese concept of “face”-anything to make themselves look good and gain face. As evidenced by the hundred or so photos posted on WeChat for all the other parents to see. But I’ll get more into that another time. It was still a nice day.

 

A Day in the Life of a Preschool Teacher

4/14/17

Thursday was a trying day. One of the days that I question why I teach, or even get out of bed in the morning. Then, I came home, started writing, and this happened:

[9:00-Nicole is in the office in the process of boiling six dozen eggs to color later in the day. Kids run in.]

NICOLE: “Guys, stay out of this room. The pot is really hot. Go play.”

[Kids run out to the lobby. Nicole goes to print worksheets. Looks up to greet Zach as he arrives. Turns around, the rest of the kids are back in the office.]

NICOLE: “Get out!”

[Nicole picks up Fred, carries him out of the room, and deposits him on a bean bag. Goes back, picks up Rarity, caries her out as Fred runs back in. She carries Ella out as Rarity is running back in. Repeat as needed for 10-15 minutes.]

 

[9:30-Nicole is removing eggs from water to cool. Qing runs up to watch.]

NICOLE: “Do not touch the eggs.”

[Qing leans forward and reaches for egg.]

NICOLE: “Qing, those are hot, don’t touch them.”

QING, touching an egg: “Ow!”

NICOLE: “Don’t. Touch. The. Eggs.”

 

[9:45-Reading. Kids are talking]

NICOLE: “Shh. Ok, Fred, can you read? Ryan, shh.”

[Fred starts reading, Ryan continues talking, but quieter.]

NICOLE: “Ryan, stop talking.”

[Fred reads, Ryan continues to whisper in the background.]

NICOLE: “Ryan, Stop. Talking.”

RYAN: “I not talk.”

NICOLE: “’I’m not talking.’ You are talking. Whispering is still talking. Who is next?”

[Zach starts reading the next page. Girls start a conversation about My Little Pony.]

NICOLE: “Girls, stop talking, the only person talking is Zach.” [Zach continues reading.]

NICOLE (10 seconds later): “Jason, get your finger out of your nose. RYAN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP TALKING!”

 

[10:15-Math class, kids are working on subtraction. Jason has to make sure he has the right answer before committing anything to paper. He also was never taught how to form a question in his last school. We’re working on it.]

JASON: “I want to this.”

NICOLE: “What is this.”

JASON: “Wo bu zhi dao.” (Translation: I don’t know.)

NICOLE: “No, if you don’t know what it is, you say ‘What is this?’.Zhege shi shenme? What is this?”

JASON: “I want to five.”

NICOLE: “Is it five?”

JASON: “Yes.”

NICOLE: “No, you say, ‘Is it five?”

JASON: “Yes”

NICOLE: “Jason, say, “Is it five?”

JASON: “Is it five?”

NICOLE: “Yes it is. Very good.”

[Jason continues to next problem.]

JASON: “I want to nine?”

NICOLE: “Is it nine?”

JASON: “Yes.”

[Nicole sighs.]

 

[11:15-Recess. Note: Chinese people are always cold. Truly, they believe that if they are not actively sweating then they must be cold. In winter, parents send their kids to school in no less than six layers. In spring, it’s four or five-at least two pairs of pants, an undershirt, one or two long-sleeved shirts, a sweater, a jacket, and possibly a scarf. Regardless of the weather forecast, if the calendar says spring, they think they are cold. It was eighty degrees today. As soon as the kids got outside they started stripping and flinging clothes around.]

QING and RARITY (chanting): “Too hot! Too hot! It’s too hot!”

QING: “I want take off” (pulls off jacket and sweater)

NICOLE: “Okay, fine.”

RARITY: “I want to take off my dress”

NICOLE: “Okay, fine” (She has two pairs of pants and shirts under it.)

QING: “I want this off” (pulls off a pair of pants, revealing another pair)

RARITY: “I want my pants off too” (pulls off outer pants)

NICOLE: “Okay, sure, whatever” (Nicole is now covered in discarded clothing)

QING: “And this shirt”

NICOLE: “No”

QING: “Why?

NICOLE: “Because you have to keep at least one shirt on”

QING: “Why?”

NICOLE: “Because I said so.”

QING: “Wei shenme?” (”Why?”)

NICOLE: “Mei you wei shenme.” (“No why.”) “Go play.”

 

[11:40-Kids are collecting their clothes and lining up to go inside. Qing grabs her pants and puts them on her head, pulling them down over her eyes.]

NICOLE (sighs): “Qing, take your pants off your head.”

[Rarity pulls her pants over her head and both girls giggle like maniacs.]

NICOLE: “Rarity and Qing, take your pants off your head. You will run into something.”

[Qing falls down.]

QING: “Ow!”

[Nicole sighs.]

 

[11:45-Lunchtime. Nicole and Lucy are attempting a conversation.]

LUCY: “So I think Dan Yang can do an art project with the kids while we hide the eggs.”

NICOLE: “Yeah, that’s fine, Jason take your finger out of your nose.”

LUCY: “Okay, and maybe-Jason, do not put your spoon in your hair. Eat your lunch.-we could do some face painting.”

NICOLE: “Yeah, I think-“

[Ella and Qing are spinning around in swivel chairs because for some reason someone decided to put swivel chairs in a classroom full of five-year olds.]

NICOLE: “Ella! Qing! Che fan! Eat your lunch! That sounds good.”

 

[12:30-Story time. Nicole, Avery, and kids are sprawled out on beanbags. Nicole is reading. Sniffling noise.]

NICOLE looks up: “Rarity, what’s wrong?”

RARITY wailing: “Ella kicked me!” (Translation: Ella’s foot accidentally brushed hers.)

AVERY: “I think you’re okay, Rarity, it was an accident. Ella, can you tell Rarity you’re sorry for bumping her?”

[Ella bursts into tears, hiccupping and gasping for breath while other kids gawk, and Avery finally has to carry her out of the room to calm down.]

 

[1:15-Dyeing eggs for Easter egg hunt tomorrow. It’s chaos.]

FRED: “I’m going to make Jupiter!”

RARITY: “I’m going to make Neptune!”

RYAN: “I want two colors!”

ZACH: “I want three colors!”

QING: “I want eat a egg.”

NICOLE: “I want to eat an egg. Wait until snack time.”

RYAN: “Me egg break!”

NICOLE: “Well, if you don’t stab your egg with a pencil, it won’t break.”

RARITY: “I can’t eat eggs”

NICOLE: “I know.”

[Nicole knows this because any time anyone anywhere is talking about food, Rarity has to announce the details of her egg allergy.]

RARITY: “I can eat the yellow but I can’t eat the white. But I don’t like the yellow.”

NICOLE: “The yolk. I know you don’t.”

 

[3:00-Snacktime. Kids are gathered around plates of fruit and crackers, talking quietly for once. Nicole takes advantage of this anomaly and goes to the bathroom. Comes back thirty seconds later to find all the kids standing in the front entrance, laughing and shouting, door open.]

NICOLE: “WHAT is going on?”

AVERY: “Ryan is peeing in the bushes. He said he couldn’t wait.”

NICOLE: “Oh, yes, he could have!”

[15 minutes later. Zach is in the bathroom.]

RARITY: “I have to go to the bathroom but Zach is in there. I will go outside.”

NICOLE: “No you will not. No one is going outside. Ever. NEVER. AGAIN”

 

[3:15-Nicole gives up on attempting to do anything with children and shoos them out to the playground for the rest of the day. Maintenance workers are spraying down one of the slides and sidewalk. Puddles everywhere.]

NICOLE: “Stay on this side of playground, ok? I don’t want you getting all wet. Ryan, Zach, did you hear me? Only this side of the playground. Do not go in the water.”

BOYS: “OK.”

[Kids run off to play. Nicole and Avery collapse on a bench with sighs of relief. It lasts about 30 seconds.]

RARITY runs up sniffling: “Jason scratched me!”

NICOLE: “Where?”

RARITY: “On my there.” [Points.]

NICOLE: “On your cheek? Let’s see.”

[Avery calls to Jason in Chinese and tries to mediate. Nicole doesn’t understand a word and turns around to see Fred, Zach, and Ryan splashing in puddles and kicking water at each other.]

NICOLE: “Boys, get OUT of the water!”

[Zach and Fred take off running. Ryan continues to splash around, twirling and humming to himself.]

NICOLE: “RYAN! GET OUT OF THE WATER.”

[Ryan laughs and kicks water across the playground.]

NICOLE screaming at the top of her lungs: “RYAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET. OVER. HERE.”

[Ryan looks over, cocks his head to one side for a moment, then slowly strolls away from her.]

NICOLE: “Ryan. Come. Here.”

[Ryan looks over at her sideways, pauses, turns back, and continues walking away.]

NICOLE: “RYAN. Five minute time out. If you don’t get over here RIGHT NOW, it will be ten minutes.”

[Ryan slowly drags himself over to the bench, stands next to it, and starts twirling again.]

NICOLE in serial killer voice: “Sit. Down. Now.”

[Ryan sits.]

NICOLE, 3 minutes later: “Why are you in time out Ryan? What did you do?”

RYAN: “I don’t know.”

 

[3:55]

AVERY: “Are we going inside now?”
NICOLE: “No. We’re staying out here until their parents come and take them away. Hopefully forever.”

 

[4:00-Dismissal. Technically, but not really, because parents don’t pick up their kids, they send their ayis (nannies) who show up sometime before four and five-thirty. ]

RARITY: “Ew!”

NICOLE: “What?

RARITY: “Jason’s nose is bleeding.”

[Nicole turns around to see Jason covered in blood from a massive nosebleed. Avery and Lucy sit him down and try to stop the bleeding, clean him up, stuff some tissue in his nose, and send him back to play. Jason pulls tissue out of his nose and proceeds to run around the room splattering blood on every surface. Girls run around the room screaming at the blood. Ryan runs around screaming because he is Ryan and that is what he does.]

[4:30-Nicole goes home, drinks alcohol, eats chocolate, and attempts to erase her memory before repeating the next day.]

 

4/15/17

Friday wasn’t much better than Thursday, but our party was fun. Here’s some pictures I thought I’d share. Happy Easter, everyone!

 

March 26, 2017

So I’ve been working on a much longer post but it’s still not finished and it’s just some general China stuff, so I’m going to keep working on it and post sometime soon. For now though, I know it’s been a while, so I thought I’d post pictures from the last couple weeks. It finally feels like spring, although March has definitely been a mixed bag. We went from sunny, clear, and sixty, to smoggy, rainy/sleety, and freezing, and back again in one week. But Jess and I were able to get out and take advantage of the clear days. Two weeks ago we went to spend an afternoon at Forest Park, the north end of Olympic Park.

Last weekend we went to the Wanda Plaza IMAX theater to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie. I know it’s gotten some mixed reviews but I loved it-it’s one of my all-time favorite stories. We explored the area around the mall too and found some cool things:

I printed up fake money for my kids to earn and started a store where they can buy fun stuff: toys, candy,  coupons for iPad time, to skip an assignment, skip clean up duty, etc. Yes, I have resorted to out and out bribery and it has worked wonders. We’ve been studying Asia-Russia, India, and Arabia, and made a Russian lunch for cooking class one day, then some Indian cake this week. We also started learning about space in science and they are so excited; asking a million questions every day. One three minute video about Mars turned into a thirty minute discussion about aliens.

In other news, Jess and I took up boxing, which is actually a lot of fun and we have not managed to seriously injure ourselves, each other, or anyone around us, so that’s always a plus. The first few classes went kinda like this though:

Yeah…we’re a little out of shape. But on the way home the other day I ran into a woman passing out flyers for a gym really close to our house. So we ended up joining that too; it was incredibly cheap. Two year membership  for 3700RMB, about $540. And they even have a pool.

This weekend I spent doing massive amounts of writing for my psychology class, cleaning, shopping, and trying to get some work done for school because it’s going to be a crazy week. We’ve got a field trip to the planetarium on Thursday, a tie-dye party on Friday, then Jess and I leave for Malaysia super early Saturday…think two a.m. early. What were we thinking?

Found some pretty spring flowers at the market today!

Around the World in 80 Minutes

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Just some cute pictures of our tie-dye day at one of the schools I work with. That was lots of fun. These guys are so sweet. In other news, it is finally spring in Beijing. It seems to have changed seasons overnight, with flowers everywhere. Including my toothpaste. Yes, toothpaste. Someone at Crest China decided that it would be pleasant to brush your teeth with gardenias and I apparently did not look closely enough at the picture on the label and wound up with a mouthful of foamy perfume:

IMG_1574We’ll just chalk it up to yet another “Why, China?” moment. I feel like I’ll have enough for a book at some point. But I digress. I’m thoroughly enjoying the flowers that confine themselves to the outdoors:

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I even love the cotton seed “snowstorms” that happen like clockwork in April. (Read more here.) This should give you some idea of them:

I know this phenomenon drives a lot of people crazy but I enjoy it. It always makes me think of Horton Hears a Who, carrying his little Who-town around on a speck of fluff.

Not much going on around here. I have passed my one-year anniversary mark, however. China and I will probably never be besties but we’ve learned how to get along for the most part. (Hint: leave my internet alone and we’ll be fine.) I’m definitely sticking around for another year and hopefully will get to do some traveling outside of Beijing for a change (besides Hong Kong for the umpteenth time). Goodness knows, I do enough traveling within Beijing. Just for kicks I calculated up the hours I spend commuting. I teach exactly 20 hours a week. I spend 25 hours a week getting to and from jobs. This is not including the time I spend commuting to other places.

One place well worth the time on the subway though, is Beijing’s World Park. Jess and I and our new friend Neishya went way out in the suburbs last weekend to find this place and had a blast. It’s monuments and famous landmarks from all over the world built on a smaller scale and scattered around a huge park.

Around the merry-go-round were statues of all twelve zodiac signs, so we each posed by our own:

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We saw Egypt, including the great pyramids:

IMG_1413IMG_1564Italy, with St. Peter’s, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, and St.Mark’s square in Venice, complete with hundreds of tame pigeons being fed and played with by tourists:

IMG_1566IMG_1568The Taj Mahal, Easter Island, even a section depicting Chinese landmarks, the gates of Babylon, the Acropolis of Athens, Big Ben, the Trojan Horse, and Notre Dame.

IMG_1569The Eiffel tower was particularly impressive:

IMG_1567And, of course, America, including the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, and a scaled-down version of Long Island, a little eerie since the park is old enough to have been built with the Twin Towers.

The park has performances as well. We enjoyed the ballet dancers; very impressive, but that little toddler in the bottom right stole the show. He kept running out on the pavilion in front of the stage dancing along with the music. At one point, most of the crowd was laughing and cheering him on.

IMG_1570This place is pretty awesome! A little eccentric in places, but definitely worth the 100RMB. If you’re looking to get outside Beijing, check it out.