On the 31st July 2012 I entered a brave new world. A world of games, puzzles, paint, picture books, dress up corners, runny noses and 3 year olds. Lots and lots of 3 year olds. Well, 19 actually.
In these 19 little lives I am discovering a multitude of developing personalities.
I teach children who laugh at me for forgetting to sing the "Good morning" song and others who's voices I have never heard. I teach children who are learning 3 languages concurrently. I teach children of Khmer, Italian, German, South Korean, American and Danish descent, and this multi-culturalism is one of my favourite things about teaching and living here. I teach a little boy with long curly black hair and a pout that Keira Knightley would envy who asks, "why" after almost every statement or instruction I give. I teach a little girl with an iron will and a rare but luminous smile who refused to hug me when the others did before surprising me weeks later with a quick squeeze. I teach a soft spoken, immaculately dressed boy who managed to produce the largest amount of vomit I've ever seen on my table as well as his stylish grey V-neck. I teach a boy whose blend of Khmer, French and English is incessant and incomprehensible and who is given to frequent outbursts of loud laughter and hand motions. In each child is an ever developing personality and it's a great honour to teach and love these little people.
Despite my reservations about teaching such a young age group these children have grown on me tremendously as I get to know and understand them better. As the weeks have worn on I've learnt how to discipline and teach very different personalities and cultural backgrounds, and have learnt who responds to what forms of discipline. It's mostly a really fun job and on any given day I might be found painting with shaving cream, chalk drawing and making ice cream in class.
The cooking lessons have perhaps been the biggest challenge for me. I love cooking but have discovered through trial and error that cooking in a way that engages a lot of eager little hands and short attention spans is an art. Fortunately for me, children are full of enthusiasm, even if the outcome is rather far from the projected ideal.
Case in point: Gingerbread Men or rather, "All Spice and Rice Flour Torso's." On the day in question I realised I hadn't actually checked which ingredients I already had at school and which I needed to buy but a quick mental recap convinced me I had everything I needed. On arriving at school I discovered I had no ginger and no cake flour. What I did have was all spice and rice flour. Great, they should work as substitutes. Anyway, baking's just like cooking, you just follow your heart right? Wrong.
So off we went, pouring and stirring and rolling and cutting and drumming up excitement for the gingerbread men. A little while later they were out the oven, looking decidedly chunky and disconcertingly dismembered. On tasting, something akin to fragrant sawdust lodged in my tastebuds. Dang rice flour.
With a bit of water to counteract the dryness, and to my great surprise, all but the pickiest children partook of the "feast" and once again this piece of wisdom came to mind:
Don't follow your heart, follow the recipe.
I wish I had some photos to show but I forgot to take some so instead, a few other glimpses into my morning job:)