Everything Is Dangerous Part 2: The Last Day Of Class
The general riff between Chinese and Foreign in the classroom began to reach its peak towards the end of the final semester. The Chinese teachers disliked everything about how the foreign parents dealt with their children and were no longer keeping quiet about it. Criticisms that were typically saved for the kids themselves, i.e. You’re gluing that animal’s leg on the wrong way, or If you run you’re going to knock other people down and hurt yourself, were instead being directed straight at the moms themselves. Multiple times throughout the 2-hour class the moms were addressed, first in private and finally as a group, with the issue of “watching your children more closely”. Foreign moms rolled their eyes at this while Ayis nodded heads in agreement as the teacher went on to describe a few horrifying scenarios: children playing with the classroom rug and bumping heads whilst neglectful moms chat about the weekend, the assistant teacher racing after children who go to the bathroom on their own with no help whatsoever (the bathroom which, incidentally, is attached to the classroom.)
The final Chinese class of the semester could not have ended on a more perfectly ironic note. In a portion of the class called Drama Time the teachers would don costumes and use characters to teach the children a new lesson each week. Having just been taught the Chinese word for “to walk”, they decided to enact a scene in which Mama Cat and Baby Kitten could use the new vocabulary while also sending a valuable message.
“I don’t want to walk,” whined teacher 1 as Baby Kitten, “I want you to carry me.”
“No no,” cooed teacher 2, Mama Cat, “you’re all grown up now! You can walk on your own.”
Children and ayis alike applauded the end scene in which Baby Kitten walked off with Mama Cat all by herself. We finished off the class with a group song in which everyone walked in a circle while singing, using their hands to pantomime beating a drum or blowing a horn. Children in the care of their ayis only made it about half a lap before realizing that they were walking on their own and, as all hands were occupied with pantomiming, no one was assisting them. Cries broke out all over the room which were silenced only once ayis picked the children up and proceeded to carry them for the rest of the song. Taking what would be my final look around that classroom, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that the irony was lost on everyone but me.