Caveat: That’s very hard to get a girlfriend

One of my third graders was quizzing me about my marital status.  This is not uncommon, but generally I am less offended than many foreign teachers seem  to be by the seemingly personal nature of some of the questions kids tend to ask.

I always answer fairly honestly:  Not married… actually, "widowed" (which is technically true, and is less likely to offend anyone's un-western sensibilities than to say "divorced," which is technically untrue, and the real, in-between reality of the situation would be infinitely difficult to explain to a bunch of kids, anyway).  And no, I don't have a girlfriend.  In response to this, the third-grade boy sighed deeply and said in a world-weary voice, "That's very hard to get a girlfriend."  Such is life. 

My day's trajectory followed one that is typical, for me.  I was miserable, earlier in the day, sulking and grading and stressing in the staff room.  Discovering, via the bilingual rumor mill whispered from desk to desk, of L-Bridge's latest affront to the concepts of humane management or post-medieval pedagogy.   Plotting an early exit, in a fantasy-oriented sort of way.

But then, through a series of 6 classes, climbing slowly from 2nd and 3rd graders up through to my supersmart 6th graders, I suddenly find myself, at the end of my last class, feeling cheerful and happy, if not actually any more positive about my place of employment.

One of my fellow teachers commented that sometimes hearing my laughter or the funny noises I make in my classes makes the students in her class laugh.  And that she laughs too.  That's pleasant feedback.  I'm aware that I make funny noises sometimes — it's one of my "gimmicks," I suppose, as a teacher.  But I'm surprised, once again, to hear that others hear me laughing often.  I think to myself, "really?"  "Despite being really annoyed and pissed off at this place of employment, I'm laughing all the time?"  Interesting. 

And this process of stepping up, from staffroom gloom in the afternoon to late evening effervecence… is not uncommon.  I don't think so, anyway.  How does it fit in with the big picture?  What is my life for?  Am I ever going to really actually learn some Korean?  Argh.  In retrospect, argh.

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