(In which there’s always been something to tell.)
I have been used to dealing with Sandy asking if she may go to the bathroom and then stay there for so long that I have to follow her only to see her walking along the corridors with eyes closed and feeling the nearest thing with her face. Once, another teacher saw her and asked why the hell she’s kissing the wall. I knew that sometimes, it was just one of her delaying tactics but often, she’s just being the kid that she is. Other examples of her childish tricks are running and hiding from me, which will eventually result to chasing and tickling and roars of laughter followed by panting and dragging to the classroom. Sometimes, we enjoy that. But not now.
During the second half of our two-hour class, she played her hide-and-seek trick on me again and I found her chatting comfortably with another student in another classroom. I told her that we should leave and study. But she resisted as if I’m going to take her to the death row. She sat down on the carpeted floor and wouldn’t stand. I held both her arms and tried to help her stand only to be burdened by the pressure she’s been exerting to keep herself on the floor.
“Sandy, stop it. Let’s go,” I said calmly.
She whined and pouted which just made her even cuter. But it wouldn’t work. I pulled her again and was defeated by her weight. I can’t continue being in that shameful position so I have to be decisive.
“Listen, Sandy. If I let go of you, I won’t come back here anymore. You’re on your own,” I said seriously.
She gave out the same whine and pout but she didn’t look cute to me anymore. I repeated the threat and she still resisted. That did it. The threat was no longer a threat. I let go of her and walked back to our room.
After a couple of minutes, as I was checking her test papers, out of the corner of my eye I saw a tiny face with long hair tied in a ponytail peeping at the side of the door. After a while, Danny, the male student from the other room, came and asked for Sandy’s dictionary. He was surprised to see Sandy out of the room. And he was even more surprised to see that she’s acting furtively. He got the picture and started teasing her.
“Oh Sandy! Can I borrow your dictionary? Please? Sandy?” he asked in between silent laughs, putting an overly obvious emphasis on her name.
I could hear some mumblings and some more laughter. Then Danny asked one more time.
“Why? What’s wrong, Sandy? Why are you here, Sandy? Why are you hiding?”
I knew it was a terrible situation for her now so I asked her to enter and the teasing and the laughter stopped. Then I explained her mistakes and we had class as though we are enemies who have to be civil for business’ sake. When the bell rang, we said goodbye and left.
Later, as I was having my phone class, someone knocked on my door and in came Sandy when I opened it. She handed me a piece of something yellow and sweet looking pastry with waffle cross marks. I thanked her soundlessly, as I wasn’t supposed to utter unnecessary words while talking to another student on the phone, and she smiled and was off. After the class, I took a bite of the lovely thing. It was crispy and sweet and buttery. I learned the next day that it was called a Butter Waffle.
This day was also known as The Laughing Day. Sandy is getting weirder and crazier, probably because of the high that was caused by knowing she will be back to their country in three weeks’ time. After exhibiting “magic tricks” which we both know all worked when or after I closed my eyes, she started laughing like there was no more tomorrow. And she couldn’t stop. The next thing we knew was that Danny, the student who’s just right behind out wall, was laughing out loud too. And they laugh like freaks who couldn’t stop even if they wanted to.
“Sandy, stop! Relax. Why are you still laughing?” I asked. I was already filled with worry but my face felt as if I was showing a weird smile.
“Teacher… I.. don’t… know.. why I laughing!” she managed to speak and then laughed some more.
The result: two teachers trying to have class with students who can’t stop laughing for unknown reasons. Thus, we can also call this day a Crazily Clueless Day.
It was a normal day. And with Sandy in mind, I define “normal” as the classroom condition wherein I, the teacher, was able to conduct a class for a full thirty to forty minutes without any childish interruptions. And usually, normal classes only occur on the first half of the class.
On the second hour, as she was scribbling something on her pretty notebook that were by now full of my notes in pink and purple ink, and as I was checking her workbook, pausing every time I need to explain or re-explain something, she asked about my travel history.
“Teacher, have you been Korea?” she asked and started to draw a cartoon character with an enlarged head and a ridiculous hairstyle.
“You mean, ‘Have I ever been to Korea'?” I asked in clarification.
“Yeah,” she answered and continued drawing the body which looked like a five pointed star with the upper point off.
“No, I’ve never been there,” I answered. She stopped drawing and looked at me. “Why?”
“Because, I don’t know what I’m going to do there and it costs a lot of money,” I explained.
“Have you ever seen snow?” she asked again and continued her drawing. This time she created the face. She put two dots for the eyes and a lowercase W as the mouth. The drawing looked totally hilarious but I was used to seeing her draw like that so it didn’t affect me like the first time I saw her masterpiece.
“No. But it would be really fun to see it once.”
“Then go to Korea!” She threw her hands up in the air as if she was on a roller coaster. Her drawing was finished.
“When I plan to go there, I’ll tell you.”
She stopped, looked down and smiled. Then she looked up at me and spoke with a big smile.
“Ree-jell, when you call me and tell me you will go Korea, I will meet you in a supermarket,” she said and started laughing. I was thinking that she might be thinking that I’ll treat her some chocolate drops. The she continued. “Then I will close my eyes and walk and find you. Then I will bump into someone so I will open eyes and look – It’s Ree-jell!!” I remembered her habit of playing blind and walking the corridors with her face as her cane. We laughed. Then she spoke softly. “One day. In Korea.”
As the cheeziness of the moment creeps in, we fell silent which I broke after a moment.
“It will take a long time. It’s going to be embarrassing to walk blindly in a supermarket when you’re already at your twenties.”
“Then you’ll be a Grandmother?”
“Probably not. Just a mom, maybe.”
“Are you going to get married? Do you want to?” she asked with genuine curiosity.
“I hope to,” I answered with genuine hope.
Just then we heard Danny singing the Alphabet Song with hilariously repetitive lyrics, keeping the tone of the four letters in his song.
“H, I, J, K, H, I, J, K, H, I, J, K...”
I was aware that my face became an unquestionable display of surprise and curiosity as I felt my facial muscles twitch. Then I heard a brand new addition to the lyrics. Well, with only some minor alterations.
“H, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I...”
The curious and surprised expression on my face suddenly turned into a big smile, then a laughter. After a while, I heard Sandy laughing too.
“Gosh! Danny, you sound like a pirated DVD!” All of us were laughing now.
We asked his teacher what the matter was and she responded.