September 6, Surprise

Some days with sixth grade with hard, and some are entertaining like today, where the kids are juiced up on what I can only assume is pre-puberty hormones.

We started to learn about frequency, and I had them offer their own crazy sentences:

“How often do you poop?”

“How often do you lie to your mom?”

“How often do you fart in someone’s face?”

“How often do you punch your friend?”

I weaved through the desks to the tallest boy in class who sat up ramrod straight in shock. He’s a good kid, and so so easy to ruffle.

“So, how often do you punch your friend?” I held out a fan of cards and he drew a six of hearts.

“Six times… a day.” He said evenly. The class erupted into entertained shouts.

Later, I noticed that same tall boy air punching his friend and stopped mid sentence to look at him. The timing was just too good and I was going to capitalize on this comedic moment.

The entire class also stopped and turned in his direction. It took him a few more seconds of shadow boxing to realize thirty people were staring at him.

“How often do you punch your friend??” I asked him in mock outrage. The entire class burst into laughter and even from the front of the classroom I could feel his entire body go red.

I found his embarrassment delicious; torturing the sixth graders in this way gives me great joy.

I also became culturally relevant again. As I prowled the back of class looking for a victim, one girl had a mini calendar with k-pop boys I don’t know well.

“Who are they?” I asked, pausing my hunt for a student to pull a card.

“Idol singers,” she replied.

“Yes, I know,” I laughed, “which group?”

“Oneus”.

Well, it looks like I can relate to my students after all! BTS has lost popularity with the new elementary kids in favor of newer and ever younger idols, but I could shine here.

“Oh? I went to their concert.”

She and the friends around her flipped out. It is a weird coincidence. I only went because a friend invited me along and I love the energy of kpop concerts. I should have gone to more before COVID…

“Yep, before COVID.” I moved on to my next victim, then suddenly sung a few bars of the only song I can remember, “I don’t speak in English, yeah yeah, oh oh”. They were even more shocked and I felt smugly proud about having some relative experience to share with the youth.

And in another surprise twist, Jack paused eating his fried rice to talk about the news.

“I just don’t understand how they can treat women like cows or pigs,” he commented about the situation in Afghanistan. “Don’t they have mothers?”

“Maybe it’s because they feel weak so they treat women poorly to feel more powerful.” I said.

“I’m a feminist,” he said simply and I blinked in surprise. The word has been twisted by online misogynists to be a slur; see their attempt to smear An San, the Olympic gold medalist in archery.

“Men should protect women and girls and children,” he continued.

Well, this was not the way I ever expected lunch to go, but I’m so happy to meet a man that’s straightforward in his belief of equality. Now if only we could convince 70% of Korean men in their 20s to agree

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