I can tell that I’m going to get a lot of blog posts out of this Art teacher thing.
I’m seriously loving it, by the way. The director was more than happy to hand complete control of the entire Art curriculum over to me when I showed her a sample plan, so I can pretty much do what I want, as long as I don’t go all radical and take the kids out to paint anti-government murals on the sides of houses, for example. And so I cheerfully spend a few hours per week surfing the net (is that still an expression?) for fun and educational art projects, hand over a monthly shopping list of materials to Jennifer, and spend two days a week clarried in paint and glitter. Sure what could be more perfect?!
I’m still a little nervous in my new role, mind you – still finding my feet. This means that I’ve been spending ridiculous amounts of time in preparation, including spending the beginning of Friday night pottering around my classroom with tubes of paint and brightly coloured straws, muttering to myself about the correct ratio of paint to water to washing-up liquid in order to achieve the perfect shade of bubbles.
I gave myself a small panic attack when I began testing the bubbles and realised that the second a drinking straw goes into your mouth, you get an instinctive urge to suck through it rather than blow. I had to make a conscious decision to prevent this action, as if my body would just have gone ahead and drunk the painty water if it hadn’t received any further instructions.
Considering that I was planning on offering these appetising-looking concoctions to three dozen pre-school infants, this was somewhat worrisome. And it was for this same reason that I devoted a large section of my demonstration in each class to miming out what would happen if they sucked instead of blowing into the straws. I can think of no other job where you’re required to stagger around several times in one morning, clutching a cup of bright pink liquid, clawing at your throat with an agonised expression on your face and making retching noises. The children were most amused, and it seemed that they were much more intelligent than me, for the thought of drinking the stuff had never even crossed their minds.
Teacher, very silly! Drink paint is yucky! Sick, teacher, so sick!
Excellent news. And so my confidence increased as I completed two successful classes. The children loved it, I loved it, and we all had a fabulous time. By the third class, I was feeling like the most fun teacher that ever walked the planet.
Blow a bit harder, I encouraged the quiet, withdrawn new boy, whose efforts were producing no bubbles at all. He’s a funny little boy – very silent and unblinking, and with seemingly no understanding of anything anyone says. He doesn’t even acknowledge that you’ve spoken to him, whether it’s a gentle question or a simple hello – but then he’s a bit behind the rest of the class, since they’ve already been at the school for a year, plus he’s probably quite overwhelmed by his new surroundings, so I’m treating him as fragile rather than sulky.
Anyway, I turned to the girl beside him to check on the progress of her bubbles, and then returned my attention to him. A little harder, I repeated, growing puzzled as to why there were still no bubbles. That’s when I saw traces of green at his little lips, and almost had heart failure. Don’t drink it!!!! Spit, spit! I almost yelled, snatching the straw out of his mouth and then realising he would have no idea what I just said. I had to mime spitting instead, which he did gratefully, a torrent of green pouring out of his mouth. Dear lord, I thought to myself, I have force-fed paint and soap to an already nervous and withdrawn child. This does not bode well.
And indeed, after having had his mouth rinsed and his teeth thoroughly brushed, he returned to the classroom looking deeply suspicious of me. He still refused to acknowledge that I was speaking to him, but now there was a (somewhat green) tinge of resentment in his glare.
No wonder, if he really thought I was forcing him to drink such an unpleasant mixture, to the extent where he was going to keep forcing it down until I told him he could stop. Only one day of teaching him, and yet I will forever be the evil bitch who tried to poison him. Sigh. You can’t win ’em all…