The children are all making little conical Santa ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree.
I enjoy being an art teacher at Christmas time. The classroom takes on a whole different atmosphere during December, and there’s something about all the red and green and snowflakes and glitter and sparkly things that takes me right back to my own happy childhood of Christmas crafts and carols.
One little girl has somehow managed to make her Santa look more like a Viking than a jolly old St. Nick, but hey, I’m all about freedom of expression and creativity.
I congratulate her on her somewhat bizarre (but highly original) effort, and attach the string to her ornament. Next!
They’re all bringing their finished works to me so that I can help them with the tricky joining part and add the hanging strings. My attention is thus focused on one child at a time, so it takes me a while to become aware of a kerfuffle at the other end of the room. Jun is throwing another tantrum – remember Jun? He’s the little brat who cries at the slightest sign of not getting exactly what he wants. I know I’m meant to love them all the same, and I know it’s very, very wrong to have actual feelings of dislike for a 5-year-old, but gahhhhhhhhhhhh!!! That child makes me want to put my fist through a wall.
Anyway, this time he appears to have misplaced his Santa. I have them all search under the desks as I finish the last child’s ornament, and try to remain patient as my constant queries about Jun’s Santa’s whereabouts are consistently ignored. I don’t like Santa!! is all I can get out of him, his voice becoming increasingly high-pitched as his glare becomes more and more poisonous. Eventually, I dismiss the rest of the class and turn to him, trying to hold on to my festive spirit as I look at the screwed-up little face with the eyes that look like they want to slowly laser-beam me to death. Jun, I say for the dozenth time, as gently and patiently as I am able. Where is your Santa?
I don’t… like… Santa!! he screams into my face.
Why? What did Santa ever do to you? I ask, realising that I am possibly losing my cool as I hear the words coming out of my mouth. Jun kicks the wall. No! he replies. This conversation is not really going anywhere, so I turn from him to scan the room for the missing Santa. I really do not give a tiny flying rat’s ass where the fecking Santa is, as I have far more important issues in my life, but if he is the only child to leave the school without an art project, questions will be asked and Hayley Teacher will be in trouble. And so I search for Santa.
Santa is nowhere to be found.
Right, I say firmly, and with zero patience now as it is lunch time and I am starving. What did you do to Santa?
I… DON’T… LIKE… SANTA!!!!! The whine has become a scream, accompanied by crocodile tears and a pouty lip.
I…. DON’T…. CARE!!!! I retort, abandoning all pretence of being the more mature party here. I don’t like Angry Birds, and I made 63 of them the other week. WHERE…. IS…. SANTA?
Jun senses that he has perhaps edged into dangerous territory, so he hesitates momentarily before making a vague gesture with his hands.
What are you saying? You crumpled him up and threw him away? I asked (after 3+ years in this job, I am a total expert at interpreting every possible mime a child might perform). He nods, his bravado fading slightly as he watches my face take on The Look. He attempts to bolt from the room, but The Look stops him, so he stands there trying and failing to look nonchalant as I rummage through the paper recycling bag like a woman possessed.
I find Santa, or rather, I find what remains of Santa. It is a sad sight, and one which is not conducive to keeping my festive spirit alive. Jun has killed Christmas in one selfish, symbolic act of vandalism. How does that feel, Jun? Hmmm? DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF?
I march him down to his homeroom teacher, ’cause I’ll be damned if I’m making him a replacement Santa to take home and pass off as his own. He attempts to viciously kick me in the shins as we approach his classroom, so that I am in the process of completely losing the plot just as we encounter his surprised teacher. I thrust the woebegone Santa at her and point accusingly at Jun, who is of course howling pitifully now. He gets a comforting cuddle. I get a “what the hell is wrong with you?” sort of look. Jun smirks at me over his naive teacher’s shoulder.
This is not over, Jun.