04 September 2012

James and the Giant Poop

I understand that there are certain things that kindergarten students can and cannot do:

Can: Macarena
Can't: Cut a circle with scissors

Can: Memorize all of the words to PSY's "Gagnam Style"
Can't: Tie their own shoes

However, or more appropriately, unfortunately, there are certain things that they are supposed to be able to do but can't always remember...

Like wiping their own butt.

One of my students, Korean age 7 (5-6), has had two "incidents" in this area.

Part I: Attack of the Poop

It's a normal day, normal kindergartners, normal shenanigans.

And a normal bathroom break... Or so I thought.

I stayed in the classroom and drew smiley faces on finished worksheets while the students did their business and shuffled back in.

10 minutes later, and James is still in the bathroom.

Now, James is infamous for visiting other classes and generally wandering when allowed out of the classroom for more than a second, so I wasn't as worried as I probably should have been by his absence.

Eventually, one of the kids says, "Teacha? What is sound?"

...What sound?

I open the door to the room and hear crying and desperate sobs of "Teachaaaaaa! Helpa me!!!"

Oh, James.

I push the other students back in the classroom and shut the door and run down the hall to the bathroom emergency.

I was expecting some sort of Many Many Dong scenario, so what I found was pretty tame in comparison.

James, on the toilet, crying with his little pants around his ankles. 

Apparently, the problem  was that he had taken a poo, but forgotten how to wipe his butt. I hand him toilet paper and stand outside the stall, giving half-hearted encouragement to the crying poopy-butt inside. 

"It's okay, James! You're a big boy! I know you can do it!"

... He definitely can't.

And by this point, his crying and shouting has brought every teacher in the school to the bathroom for a quick laugh. Which, of course, just makes everything worse by embarrassing James even more. 

By this time, all of the Angel Teachers are gone.

My co-teacher (SAINT) Jackie comes to the rescue and wipes his butt. We talk about practicing at home with your mommy so these kinds of things don't happen again.

He cries on my shoulder for a while, we hug, and go back to class.

Part II: Revenge of the "Dong"

It's two weeks later, and another normal day.

I have received assurances from James and his mom that he has been practicing wiping his butt at home. 

But, when put to the test, all of that practice goes out the window. 

James goes to the bathroom, makes a nice Number 2, and once again needs help. 

I give him some paper, and convince him to try first, and if he still can't do it, I'll help him.


I instruct him, step-by-step, on how to wipe his butt. He wipes away his tears, and wipes with a look of determination usually reserved for marathon runners and the National Spelling Bee contestants. 

He does it, and we have a little toilet celebration. I turn to leave, and he says, "Teacha! I did it, but me no really clean."

Oh. No.

I take a deep breath, and give a cursory wipe. 

Really, I barely touched him at all, but the gesture reassured him enough that he stood up, flushed, and we washed our hands together.

Oh, and I swore him to secrecy. 

The other kids would have had a field day making fun of both of us.

Of course, I was just looking out for James... Of course. 

Best teacher of all time? I think so. I'll look for you all at the awards ceremony.

The End

12 June 2012

Worst Blogger Ever? And Adventures With Bodily Fluids

Definitely the worst blogger ever.

To try and put a slight dent in my debt to you all, I have a few encounters with bodily fluids that may cheer you up.

1. Attack of the Pee

As I believe I've mentioned before, my school teaches kids anywhere from Korean age 4 (2 or 3) to 15 (13-14). The youngest class is just BABIES. Like, infants.

One of the girls gets picked up from school in a stroller.

Anyways, towards the beginning of the new school year (March), one of these infants was having some trouble using the bathroom.

As in, she forgot it was a thing and just went in her pants on the reg.

One day she did it three times.

THREE. TIMES. In one day.

Just sayin'.

Before that had happened and we knew to watch out for Old Faithful, she was crying for some unknown reason and Anna, one of our teachers, was comforting her on her lap. 

And then.... 

She let loose.

And peed ALL over Anna's leg, soaking her pants and the desk chair she was sitting in.

We all thought it was much funnier than Anna did. 

2. Teacha Die!

Remember that time I blogged about how freaked out I was when one of my students got a nosebleed? 

Times that by about a trillion and you've got the reaction of my class when I spontaneously started bleeding from the face. 

3. Revenge of the Poop

This is possibly the most horrifying moment of my entire life.

As a general rule, the kids in my class can't just get up and run to the bathroom whenever they want. We always go at the top of the hour, before lunch, after lunch... We go to the bathroom ALL the time, they can hold it for 20 minutes (they're much older than the previously mentioned student).

But, if they're panicking and jumping around clutching their groin for dear life I'll let them go.

One kid, who is usually really good about controlling himself when it comes to the bathroom, walks over to my desk very calmly, taps my shoulder, and says in a whisper, "Teacha. Bathroom. Now. Oh my gosh bathroom."

Uh... Okay?

So, I let him go, and think it's weird but move on with my life and helping everyone else unravel the mysteries of the letter K.

About 10 minutes later, I send another kid to the bathroom to see what's going on with Scott, who has yet to return.

15 seconds later I hear a shrill "OH MY GOD! MANY MANY!!!!" And the scampering pitter-patter of the messenger's feet back down the hall.

He dramatically bursts into the room and says, "Teacha! Scott, bathroom, MANY MANY! Many many bathroom, Teacha!!"

Which, of course makes little to no sense.

He relays this to the other students in Korean, and I distinctly hear the word "dong" like 16 times.

"Dong", if you were wondering, is Korean for poo.

The kids all immediately start screaming and run for the bathroom to get a look at this "many many dong" situation.

I follow, and herd them out, only to see the most revolting sight of my life.




In the toilet, on the seat, on the floor, on the wall, on toilet paper in each of the aforementioned locations...

I gagged. I literally gagged and was half a breath away from making the mess that much grosser by vomiting everywhere.

I manage to pull it together and shepherd the poop geyser Scott out of the destroyed stall, and tell him to pull up his pants.

That's when it gets truly awful.

He says, "Teacha no. Me dirty!"

He proceeds to hand me a wad of toiler paper, turn around and bend over.


Panic ensues, and I run out of the bathroom and find an Angel Teacher, one of the Korean helper staff who are more used to this sort of thing.

They also don't really speak English.

"Angel Teacher! Help?"

Blank stare that I take to be a semi-hostile, "what?"

"Scott, bathroom, dong!"

At the word "dong" she steps into the nearest classroom and shuts the door in my face.

This happened three times before one of the Angel Teachers took pity on me and helped with the poop-tastrophe.

Now, whenever Scott needs to go to the bathroom, I let him go right away.

PS. Never, ever try to find a Google Image suitable for this portion of the post.

06 March 2012

Mind. Blown.

Today is the first day of kindergarten!!!

This is, of course, exciting in and of itself, but it also means NO MORE RECORDING!!!

In my mind, the Harlem Gospel Choir sang a stirring rendition of Handel's Messiah to celebrate the end of the recording era.


Some law passed in Korea that changed how our kindergarten works. For kids that are 7 years old (Korean age, so really 5 or 6), they are now required to go to Korean school as their primary education. So now, these kids come to EOS (my school) for a couple of hours in the afternoon instead.

Which I am not thrilled about.

My primary class is 7 years old-- GO SEALION!!!-- so I essentially have giant breaks in the morning. Which is obnoxious.

Especially when you understand what I'm giving up to have these dinky morning breaks where I camp out in the computer room trying to convince Internet Explorer 6 that it IS in fact compatible with Facebook.

Note: it's not, unless you consider 30 seconds of timeline followed by a crash "compatible".

So this new break situation is a major downgrade.

7 year old kindergarten is now during what used to be our salvation, the mid-day break. It was the perfect amount of time to take a nap, shower, go to the grocery store, do the laundry, paint your nails, watch 3 episodes of Friends...

A very productive time.


The 7 year olds don't start until Friday, so today was just with my "sister class", Tuna.

Their primary teacher is one of the new Korean teachers. Her name is Jackie and I'm pretty sure she thinks I should be committed.

... She has a point.

They're 6 years old (again, Korean age), and for some of them, this is the first time they've ever been to school. We had a couple of criers this morning, thank GOD it was on a break. We all know how well I deal with crying children (see: http://ruhrohrok.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-to-not-deal-with-blood-geyser-in.html).

But they're adorable. They were all wearing their little blazers and button downs and plaid school uniforms looking like minature grown ups and I about died when I walked in from sheer cuteness overload.

I'm certainly not saying that they were a bunch of kittens in party hats but I just wanted you to get an idea of the scale of preciousness I'm dealing with here.

The bad news is that they basically speak no English.

We spent an hour learning the following:

  • "My name is ____"
  • "What class are you in?" (me) "Tuna class" (them)
  • Stand up
  • Sit down
  • Push in your chair
  • Line up
Which, when typed out seems like a lot, but really it was mostly them learning to recognize my cracked out pantomimes.


What this post was supposed to be about is my mind being blown.

Which it is.

I just can't believe that kids who literally don't even know their own names of the first day of school will be able to read and speak in relatively complete sentences in just a YEAR!

My sister class last year was the same age group and about the same level as the kids I have now, and they can read and have conversations and make jokes and understand rules to games and all sorts of other things.

One would hope they'd be able to, given the fact that they're in an English school, but still.

I never saw Jellyfish class at the beginning of the year; I only saw them when they were like halfway through and I have to say that as much as I complain about my school, it turns out that the kids really do learn their English!

Go team!

02 March 2012

How to Squander a College Education

Lately, I've been feeling pretty down about work.

Don't get me wrong, I still really like teaching and somehow the cuteness of Asian babies hasn't worn off yet.

But this past week has been tedious to the point of delirium.

Since last week was kindergarten graduation, the kids have had this week off. Of course, our beloved King and Queen Teachers couldn't bear to bring a single shred of happiness into the teachers' lives by giving us the mornings off, but have instead invented a series of repulsively boring and repetitive tasks for us to do.

For 4 hours.



The trained monkey task I've been given is recording myself reading children's books out loud.

I know what you're thinking: that doesn't sound so bad!

And it doesn't.

But oh dear GOD, it is.

It's worse.

Our school has a Book Club for the kindergartners. They check out a book, read it at home, and do a super short report ("This book was silly," "I did not like this book," or, as one of my more challenged students wrote, "This book is bed" (sic)).

It actually does really help their reading; I can definitely tell among my students who is and is not in Book Club. But a lot of their parents don't speak good enough English to help them read or sound out more challenging words, so each book has a CD of an American teacher reading it.

It makes sense why they do it this way, but making those CDs is like Chinese water torture-- doesn't sound especially harsh, but after an hour you'll be crying for your mommy.

Sometimes I get lucky and it's a nonfiction book about the migratory patterns of Blue Whales ("A Year in the Life of a Blue Whale") or about the history of silk and I get to learn something new (coughNERDcough), but usually it's some totally bogus story about a dog named Biscuit or a cat named Fabian.


Literally, I couldn't make this up if I tried.

Also, when is a Korean 5-year-old EVER going to need to know how to read "Fabian"?!?

And of course I can't just read the darn book and move on the the next.

Ooooh no.

King Teacher has decided it would be most beneficial for the kids if they "echo read" the books.

For me, this means I read a line:

     "Tinky Winky found Dipsy's hat."

Then wait, presumably for the kids to parrot the line back.

Then I read the next line:

     "Teletubbies loooove Tubby toast!"

And wait some more.

Whenever there's a page turn, I have to say "turn the page!"

There's also a long introduction shpeil at the beginning, which I will now type from memory:

          "Let's echo read! I will read, and you repeat. When you hear me say 'turn the page!' please go to the next page. At the end, there will be three questions about the story. Please choose the correct answer."

Heaven forbid you record any of this in a normal speaking voice. The goal is to sound as much like a Disney character/cheerleader on some serious uppers as possible.

My alter ego.

And no, copies of these CDs will not be available to the general public. 

Each of these recordings takes at least 10 minutes, but some of the longer books (usually alphabet or counting books-- "A is for apple! Red, juicy apple!" or "There are 9 sheep on the farm. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9!") can take over 20 minutes.

Gruesome but accurate.

I counted today-- 57 books. In 4 days. 

The worst parts are the animal sounds. Farm books are an especially high risk genre.

"Meow." Bangs head on desk.

"Woof, woof." Woof my life.

"Oink, oink." ......... There are no words.

Hillary, one of the other teachers here, actually had to howl. I shudder at the thought.

Just so everyone (I am very much included in this category) remembers:


On days like today, it can be a little hard to remember. 

Oh, and did I mention that if you sneeze during a recording you have to start over? 

Yeah, that's a thing.

It happened THREE TIMES. 

I'm not saying I did throw the book across the room, but I'm certainly also not saying that I didn't.

18 February 2012

The Only Foods I Ever Want

I hope me apologizing at the beginning of every post isn't a thing now, even though it most definitely is.

So, keeping with tradition, sorry for being negligent. This time I actually do (sort of) have an excuse, and, surprise surprise, it's musical.

The actual play was yesterday (topic for another post, look forward to it-- there are pictures. And videos, but I don't think I like any of you THAT much.), but for the entire like 2 months leading up to it, the musical was ruining my life. All day during kindergarten, then spend the rest of the day and night attempting to unwind from the stressful morning.


This post is about food.

More specifically, soup.

Soup is probably the best food ever.

And by probably, I mean definitely, absolutely, and without a doubt.


Think about how wonderful soup is (tomato, french onion, chicken noodle... mmm).

Then times that warm, fuzzy, delicious feeling by like a ZILLION, and you've got my favorite soup:

Hay Jang Guk.

It's just so fantastic.

It's made of an ox-bone broth, with giant chunks of pork spine, cabbage, and delicious spices.

Each place does theirs a little differently, but the essentials are always there.

This photo really doesn't do it justice.

They bring it out to your table in these heavy pots with the soup boiling out over the top. You have to finangle the chunks of meat into a separate bowl with chopsticks so you can scrape it off the bone. 

The thing with Hae Jang Guk is that everyone has their own way of eating it. Personally, I add the meat back into the soup and dump in the entire sauce bowl (every restaurant's is a little different, ranging from a hot mustard to Korean horseradish). I eat all of the solid bits, then dump in the rice and eat it with the broth.

Other people eat the meat separately from the soup (which should be a crime), and others just dump everything in the pot and eat it all in one go. 

Really, any way you eat it is Uh. Maze. Ing.

It's known in Korea as "hangover soup", but I eat it just all the time. If I could, I would probably eat it every day. I know that's a bold statement, but this soup really is THAT good. 

My friend Jess enjoying soup at our favorite place in the world.

Everyone seems to have a fierce loyalty to their favorite Hae Jang Guk establishment, and many an argument has ensued about who has the best stuff. 

Me and my friends stalk this place a few blocks from our house. We're there so often that the staff doesn't even bother to ask us what we're ordering, but instead just brings it out to a blissful chorus of "gamsa hamnidaaaaaaa" ("thank you").

There's one woman who works there who just loves us (who wouldn't, honestly) and brings us free sodas whenever we go-- an added bonus. 

Unrelatedly, guk ("gook") is Korean for soup, but I don't think I'll ever get used to hearing that word used all the time and just soooo casually. It still gives me a start when I hear it, like, um HELLO how many Asians are here that you're using that word??

But then I remember that it's lunchtime and freezing and they're talking about soup, not their time-travel adventures to a fox hole in Vietnam. 



Another kind of soup that I really like (read: am moderately obsessed with) is Soondae Guk. 

Blood sausage soup!

This post is making me hungry.

It's this mild broth with chunks of blood sausage and thin slices of pork in it. There's also a load of whatever that green stuff is, it's like a grassier version of green onions, but who really knows.

It's so SO warm and soothing, and another "hangover soup". 

And no, I am not so constantly hungover that I eat hangover soup every day, it just happens to be delicious.

I'm not a big blood sausage fan generally, and was admittedly nervous trying this, but it doesn't taste like blood sausage, it's just this kind of mushy broth-y thing that has magical powers to entrance your taste buds and leave you never wanting to taste anything else for hours. 

But seriously, I'm drooling.

I met some new arrivals from South Africa last night, and they were complaining about the food. I tried to reassure them by telling them about these two culinary masterpieces, but they seemed, if anything, more worried than before.


Anyways, here's a link to a recipe for Hae Jang Guk, if anyone at home is feeling adventurous.

Or hungover.

04 January 2012


Every year, King and Queen Teacher give the American teachers the "opportunity" to showcase our and our classes' musical and dramatic "talents".


Dolphin class has been assigned Cinderella as our class play.

Guess who is Cinderella?

One of the ridiculously cute Asian babies?

Already in costume-- I'm just sayin'.

Oh, no.

Of course not.

It's me.

Ruh roh.

And the months we've spent preparing for this debacle have led to the creation of the following list.

Reasons why it is excruciatingly awkward for me to be Cinderella:

1. The slipper.

Two of the students are playing the mean step-sisters, and they have to say that the shoe is "too small". At one point, the prince even shouts: "Stop! Your fat foot is going to break the slipper!"

Honestly it's just preposterous for me to wait in line after these munchkins trying on a shoe that is "too small" and then for me to be like "WOW great fit! !*~LOLZ~*!"

I am easily a foot and a half taller than all of them and their feet COMBINED would maybe make half of mine. And I don't even have especially big feet, as far as white people go.

2. The girls all actually want to be Cinderella.

And they ask me every time we practice.

"Teacha! Why me is no Cinderella?"


The original response was that Cinderella had too many lines, and only I, the native English speaker, could reasonably be expected to do it all.

A) Rude. No thank you. I don't want to do anything in this play, much less the biggest part.

B) That turned out to be somewhat less than true once the script was actually written.

C) The girls sat down at recess one day and counted the lines in the play and informed me that I was wrong.

D) I felt like a total jerk when I told them we couldn't switch. Believe me, I wanted to, but of course Queen Teacher is just tickled pink by the prospect of a white, blonde-ish Cinderella.

3. Prince Charming is 7 years old.

Seriously, it's creepy.

There are all these lines about how we are each others' true loves, and he has to propose, and I have to say yes, and then we get married.... 

Oh, and the entire class sings "A Whole New World" about our love.

(I know it's an Aladdin song, but it's romantic and my favorite so step off)

And as awkward as it is for me (how do you embrace post-proposal without feeling like a pedophile? Suggestions are welcome), it's worse for him as a 7-year-old boy.

Of course the kids are all at the stage where they say "OoOoOoOoooh you is LOOOOOOOOOOOVE _______?" about every 4.3 seconds.

Which can be funny, but when they ask Ricky if he LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVES me it gets.... uncomfortable.  

4. The kids all think it's really funny to treat me like Cinderella.

They'll throw a paper on the ground and then shout "Amandarellaaaaaa! Get off your lazy behind and pick up that paper!"

Or: "Amandarellaaaaa!! I want more water! Why are you so lazy?!" 

I don't even have the energy to comment on how ridiculous this is.

--End of list--

Anyways, the musical is generally a disaster, and of course the actual production is allegedly taking place next month. 

And no, under no circumstances will a video of the musical be made available to ANYONE


One of my students hates the musical so much I have to physically drag him into the room where we practice and threaten him with the harshest punishments I can think of to make him stop crying enough to say his lines.

If anyone else has this problem, telling him you'll throw him out the window and then actually opening the window should do the trick.

I'm not suuuuper proud of my behavior, but it worked like a charm.

This same student last week refused to do any other work because he wanted to work on the musical so much.

........I honestly wish I was making this up for dramatic effect. 

We also have to learn three songs and accompanying dances, as if an entire PLAY wasn't enough.

Did I mention that I will be the only one in costume? 

Oooooooooooof course.


I'm probably the most negligent blogger in the universe. In a mere day's time, I will have not posted anything for an entire month.


Anyways, I do have a semi-good reason: I'm trying something new.

I know, right?

I imagine your reactions went something like this. 

Anyways, I've been trying to have what I believe you non-hermit people call "a social life". I'm probably mispronouncing it, but hey-- baby steps. 

Normally, I tend to branch out about as much as a palm tree, which is to say, not at all.

But these days my friends' choice of activities has left me no choice but to make other friends. They went SKIING last weekend. Uh, no thank you.

These new friends have "interests" and like to "do stuff together", so that's left me very little time for blogging. 

Fortunately, all of this activity means I have a lot of great new material to work with. Whether or not I will have time to post it or not is an entirely separate question.

Several of these new friends are not from the US, leading to a lot of mistranslation (everyone) and embarrassing instances of downright ignorance (just me).

I am now that American. 

A teaser:

I asked if there was a bridge between England and Ireland. 

The short answer is no, there is actually an entire SEA. It takes an hour to cross it in an AIRPLANE.


There's that.

Look forward to more entries to come in the near future!