because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Boys who are so awesome they have two names.

His name was Gianluca, and he was exactly the type you aren't supposed to like: bolshy, demanding, and uncompromising. 

He was the kind to push you to your absolute limits; he'd have you questioning your own self, experimenting with the ways he could disarm you with his blistering blue eyes and cheeky wink, juxtaposed against his quick-wit and debilitating honesty. Just as you thought you couldn't possibly take anymore of his tricks of the mind he’d have a habit of catching you as you are about to metaphorically fall, gently slipping his hand into yours as you walk in the garden. You’d meander in contented silence, the dynamic redefined by this new intimacy, until the games began again and you are more perplexed than you were before this small gesture of togetherness. 

He was exhausting, and confusing, and six years old.


Six year olds are my thing. I've run workshops on teaching six year olds. I have a job teaching six years olds come the autumn. I've done it before. Many, many times. So much so that before this week’s English camp began I sat in the meeting with the director and declared, "The biggest class in the camp? The youngest class in the camp? I'll do it." Because I didn’t trust anybody else, and because, of course, I suffer from high self-esteem telling me that I’m invincible enough to take on a job bigger than I am.

Is it inappropriate to suggest that this six year old child pulled my pants around my ankles and told me to bend over? Oh. It is? Sorry about that.

I was so, so eager to begin with. Spending a month telling other people how to teach kids isn't the same as actually being there, in the classroom, suffering mental abuse by Gianluca as he hangs out the window with his tee shirt over his head screaming how are you?how are you?how are yooooooou? But rolling his r’s funny so that he sounds like an extra in Faulty Towers, and is only saying what you have been teaching him all morning anyway so how do you shut him up FOR FUCK’S SAKE?

One week this past month my work colleagues all went out to teach whilst I stayed behind and continued to run workshops (which, incidentally, one attendee liken more to a one-woman sketch-show than a learning experience. I'M NOT SORRY.) and it was as if they had all gone out to the front line in France and I had stayed behind in Bognor Regis, probably held back by short-sightedness or a gammy leg, to build the bombs that they were using to improve pronunciation and grammar structure across the land, except that it wasn't the front line it was English camp, and it wasn't bombs but The Penguin Song.

And whilst building these educational bombs I've had on my happy face. Seventeen hours a day. I've taught songs and games and laughed and made inappropriate jokes about blowjobs and pedophilia and accidentally outed the most amazing American I’ve ever known in front of 120 of his peers and do you know what? One of the post-training feedback forms said I didn't make enough effort to get to know people outside of the training hours, and that I had favourites. Out of 600 feedback forms of AWESOMENESS (guess they didn’t mind the anal joke after all) and several hugs of thanks, cards that made me cry with their loveliness, and emails that made me laugh out loud, guess which one I’ve been thinking about most? So I'd like to address that with, I'm not paid to be your friend.


Of course I have favourites. THAT'S CALLED REAL LIFE. I always wanted to Mrs Higgingbottom's favourite when I was in fifth grade but she always chose the blonde girl with the lovely eyelashes instead of me but do you know what? I guess it just means that sometimes it sucks to be you, and that I need to wear mascara everyday.

Gianluca was my favourite. 

There, I said it. 

Our student-teacher relationship is exactly like every successful relationship I’ve ever had: he gave me shit, I gave him shit, and together we developed an understanding that giving each other shit was nothing compared to the shit we could give united. 

And I didn’t have to humour him over dinner and pretend to really-not-mind-at-all telling the same story about how I got into this job, how long I’ve done it, or faux-laugh at the funny story about when he was at summer camp THAT REALLY WASN’T THAT FUNNY BLAHBLAHBLAH BORINGBORINGBORING. Gianluca kept it interesting, man. I mean, he was upside down from the ceiling and swearing in his mother tongue but he had a personality, you know?

And I rather suspect that he has officially marked the beginning to my summer with his arse kicking and mind-games. And I really don’t mind at all- regardless to what his feedback form says.

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