So, yes. Here's some thoughts on last Friday. We did have a speech contest at school and the kids were unbelievably well behaved! Usually the K-teachers walk around with sticks, whacking the kids that are talking or fidgeting or bothering other kids, but Friday there was not one whack. The reason they were so quiet and attentive was the presence of the new teacher/manager. She started last Monday. Her name is Jane and so far I love her. Her English IS really good, and with the kids she has a no-nonsense approach. I think it's a good thing, as the students know the other Korean teachers are pushovers. (Notes the Queen of the Pushovers!)
Jane has very quickly become comfortable with me, and hugged me from behind twice last week. She's also very sharp, and will put me down in a joking way which I think is funny. Last week she maintained a running "nobody likes you" gag which made me laugh. The kids are kind of terrified of her, and she put the last class of really badly behaved boys in their place, saying something in Korean along the lines of "you will behave yourself here, and if you don't like it, there's the door." Go Jane! Actually, the K-teachers seem fairly intimidated by her as well, so it'll be interesting to see what happens in the next while, especially when the real boss stops coming every day (which should happen the week after next.)
Speaking of badly behaved children, I'm really a little worried about the boss's son. Everything he does reeks of brattiness. I shouldn't say "everything." He fell asleep in the car on Friday and was noticeably better behaved as he softly snored. Seriously. The kid seems to really have something wrong with him, and I hope when his father returns toward the end of the month he'll sort him out. He's a bright kid, and even though he doesn't speak English very well at all, he has mastered two other languages, "Scream," and "Whine." He's well on his way to fluency in "Wail" as well. In my class last week, he had a FIT because another kid wouldn't give him a scrap of paper on which I'd written the word "elephant." He slunk into a corner of the room and had a melt-down. Finally, I snatched the elephant paper out of the other student's hand and popped it in my mouth. "Oh!" exclaimed the one sweet little girl in the class. In Korean, she urged, "Hey Kevin, stop crying. Jenny ate the elephant." This made Kevin cry harder, and I had to resist the urge to drag him from the classroom.
We went out to dinner Friday after work, the Korean teachers, the boss and her son, and Jane and I. It was a welcome dinner for Jane. Throughout the meal, Kevin ran around the room screaming, and went around snatching up all the side dishes he liked - hiding them under the table so he could gobble them up. He knocked over a full glass of beer into Elizabeth's lap while reaching across the length of the table, being a smartass. He thought that was a riot. I glared at him so hard, he finally stopped giggling. I know it's not entirely his fault, his behaviour gets results from his mom, who babies him while treating him like a little prince. When his mom stops coming to school everyday, so will Kevin. (Phew!) She asked me, half jokingly (I think) if it would be ok if he joined the class on the days she (and he) are there, and I laughed and said "absolutely not!"
More odd behaviour. At dinner the meal was delicious. (I'll post some photos later.) The atmosphere was cheerful and Jane and I and the boss talked a lot in English. Oftentimes during previous dinners out, the other three ladies speak almost exclusively Korean just like they do in the staffroom. It was refreshing. After Elizabeth had eaten her fill, she slid back from the table and rested up against the wall, pulling her giant silly bag beside her, and she started QUILTING! I wondered if this was acceptable behaviour here, and realized that it's definitely NOT! Dinner and drinks with the co-workers are actually taken quite seriously in Korea, inasmuch as they're bonding events with frequent "gambes" (cheers) and declarations of "one shot!" I thought it was a snub to us other dinner companions and definitely strange behaviour toward the guest of honour and Elizabeth's senior Jane.
"Elizabeth!" I said, "Stop quilting and come back to the table."
"Why?" she asked.
"Because it's WEIRD, and we don't go out together very often!"
"We will go out again at the end of September." (We have another Market Day which is always followed by a dinner.)
"Yah," I said, "But I'm going to bring my sewing machine and make a dress at that meal."
She eventually did come and re-join our group at the table, where Kevin managed to spill some cola on her - because, you know, the beer he'd spilled in her crotch earlier was almost dry by then.
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