We’re not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again.

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So guess whats my current favourite song?

Just Give Me A Reason by P!nk?

No shit sherlock, it’s the title! But yeah, currently extremely fixated on it. :) Nate Ruess and P!nk, what’s not to love about it? I like this side of Pink. That girl’s gone through some tough times but most of her songs are just as tough, which is a reflection of the personality that she shows to the world. But this song is different.

Just give me a reason, just a little bit is enough. Just a second, we’re not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again.

The feeling of earnestly seeking for a way to fix things even if the other just wants to throw it all away, because you still believe deep down that there’s still a way out of the rut you’re in. That desperation in the words… It reminds me of a certain incident, maybe that’s why I like it so much. Ah well, it’s true when people say music can unlock the certain fragment of memories in the back of your memory. Opening the floodgate of emotions of that certain past even though you can hardly remember the details.

But I didn’t come here to write this! AHHHHHHH FOCUS!

I’m here to finish off the Kids Post with a Part II!

So, where was I?

Oh right, the part where Mr. Benny and I started talking. I wasn’t really close with him at first. In fact, I was rather wary. He gave me a feeling that he was always watching, always… judging? That’s probably my self-conscious side speaking. But it always felt that he was silently observing everything we did. I remember thinking, “This is for the kids not us! Why observe us?” But I guess, it turned out to be a good thing. Every time he saw us — Inez and I — ┬ástuck in a rut, he would come over quickly and solve the problem efficiently.

Okay, before the Carton Wallet session, there was a terrarium making station. There, he asked to speak to HuaSheng privately about this boy in Huasheng’s group that wasn’t cooperating. At that point of time, I was pitying the boy because he didn’t know anyone from his group and they weren’t very friendly. Of course, he wasn’t the nicest person to befriend, but the other kids from his group really snubbed him quite openly. He was different. He spoke differently, mostly in mandarin and with a lot of slang and sprinkled with some pretty colourful words. He was rough. He was competitive. But above it all, I could tell he was lonely. He wanted the attention, so I felt that we should probably give it to him. Mr Benny seemed to know better.

After talking to Huasheng, he went to talk to the boy. He was stern and spoke in a no-nonsense tone and the me looking upon from the side thought that it was hardly necessary. However, after the short talk, the boy rejoined the rest of the kids and started making his own (really pretty I must say!) terrarium. My interest was piqued, to say the least. What did Mr Benny say to make him want to rejoin the other children? Did harsh words work better? Was coercion actually useful? Curious me then went to ask Hua Sheng.

Huasheng said that Mr. Benny was observing the boy from afar — note, the boy wasn’t from Mr. Benny’s school, he was in no way responsible for the kid — which I noticed, and misinterpreted as unhappiness from Mr. Benny. He realised that the kid had violent tendencies and a little ADHD. He was angry at the rest of the world for ignoring him and basically stomped around just, being angry. Hua sheng didn’t tell me much about what Mr. Benny did but I found out afterwards anyway, from the horse’s mouth itself.

During the Carton Wallet session, I helped many of the kids with the folding, like I thought I should. They were having trouble, they wanted a nice wallet, if I did the folding for them, both problems would then have a solution. So I did. But I turned my head and noticed Mr. Benny folding his own wallet, talking idly to one of the kiddos — Nigel, if I’m not wrong — and not helping them at all! I was more than a little irritated, so I went over to see how Nigel was doing. Mr. Benny didn’t stop me.

But he suddenly started talking about Irfan’s sprinting skills. He had mentioned Irfan’s ability to sprint in the morning and I was just a little impressed but didn’t thought much about it. So when he started talking about it again, with little Irfan blushing at the side, I was getting a little “Is it such a big deal?”-ish. But he continued talking anyway.

Seemed like Irfan wasn’t the best student. In fact, he was a lazy student that didn’t bring his books most of the time, that entered class with a stoned look. But the day before, at the their school’s sports meet, he impressed everyone, most of all Mr. Benny. Mr. Benny was his form teacher. When he saw Irfan having his usual stoned face at the Meet, he thought that Irfan was gonna treat the entire event with the same attitude as his studies. So he said to Irfan, “You’re from track, right? Try to put more effort into this than school work!”

But when the gun sounded, Mr. Benny was forced to grab his words, stuff them into his mouth and gulp every single one down. Irfan was fast. He was in the lead and the others were very very far behind. He had a look in his eyes Mr. Benny never saw in him during class. This just reminded him never to underestimate any student and that everyone had their niche area, and running would then be Irfan’s. He turned to Irfan after saying all that that studying would help in sprinting and he should pay his studies just as much attention. He went on about how physics could teach one the best running posture, the angle to dig your leg into the ground, the best time of the day to run etc. I was rather lost by the mechanics, but I understood what he was driving at.

Irfan nodded sheepishly and ran away to get stickers for his Carton Wallet. Mr. Benny turned back to me with a look I thought only proud fathers had continued chatting. The conversation turned to the boy from the terrarium session and he told me what he did when I asked. Like what Hua Sheng told me, he said he realised the boy had some attention deficiencies and to top it off, he held a lot of anger and dissatisfaction inside him. The boy was unafraid of us, the student facilitators, and decided he could causes trouble as and when he liked. Mr. Benny then decided to adopt the strict teacher attitude and “glared” sternly at him every time their eyes met and he — the boy — was doing something not completely nice. It made the boy understand what he could or couldn’t do. The most dangerous person was one that had no fear, after all. This explained the glaring I felt him giving the boy. Mr. Benny then explained what he said to the boy when he talked to him.

He asked him why he wasn’t participating. “I don’t want.”

He asked him why not. “Because I don’t want.”

“Don’t you want a terrarium?” “…” then, “What’s a terrarium?”

He told him it was the little house that held a plant that the other kids were making. He asked him if he wanted one again. The boy nodded.

He asked the boy if he knew how he could make one. The boy didn’t know.

“Just go over there and listen to the jiejie, she’ll tell you how to make one.” So the boy did.

Mr. Benny told me the boy was angry, but he didn’t know why he was angry, he didn’t know how to stop being angry. He wasn’t accomplishing anything by being angry and he didn’t know what he could do if he stopped stomping around. He was annoyed that no one was coming to him even if he was angry, he was annoyed that he was already angry but yet nothing was getting done. So someone had to tell him exactly what to do. Mr Benny told me most kids were like that. Sometimes we expect too much from them, we think they know what to do just because we do, but they don’t. And the kids, they respond the way they think we want them to. He told me that during the amazing race in the morning I asked the kids if the could put in effort and the kids replied “Yes!” but he asked one of them again in private, “Do you know what put in effort means?” and the boy shook his head.

Sometimes, we need to spell out exactly what we want, so they know what to do and we get what we want. They are kids, it’s okay if they don’t know, but it’s our job to let them know.

Zest walked past and showed us his wallet and Mr Benny complimented him. He asked me if I noticed Zest’s ADD symptoms, I hadn’t. He told me that ADD kids reacted slowly and asked if I had noticed that Zest was always the last one to finish packing. That I had, and I was secretly pissed on a few occasions because of that. I thought he wasn’t listening when I asked the kids to pack, I thought he was always doing unnecessary things when packing, I never linked it to his ADD. It turned out that he was trying his best. This was his fastest at his most cooperative, I just never took the time to realise. Afterwards, I started observing. When I ask the kids to pack up, Zest took a while to digest the information but once he did, he would always jump right into it. The other boys would hear me and ignore my “orders” but Zest would already be packing. However, even though the other boys would begin later, they would finish faster too. I can’t explain what Zest was doing, but I could tell he was doing his best and at this moment, I couldn’t help but berate myself internally. Why hadn’t I notice such a thing?

Eddie then came over and asked if he could have Mr Benny’s wallets. Mr Benny readily handed his over but teased him about his reason for wanting so many wallets. Eddie cheekily said:

Because I have a lot of money!

I couldn’t help but laugh with everyone else. I thought Eddie was small, cute and talkative when I first saw him. I thought the other kids might bully him, but I was wrong. It seemed, for boys, size was important, but so was talk. If you were like Eddie, able to joke, able to be heard, it didn’t matter if you were half their height. Even if you were, the ocean of people would part to hear you talk. Eddie was younger and smaller but he was also the most listened to, and in that sense, the most “respected”. But of course, that had it’s cons. He wasn’t the most understanding person and flared his top easily and because he was so loud most of the time, his moods affected the entire group easily.

At that point in time, I was more than awed by Mr Benny so I asked him about the 2 of the remaining boys: Nigel and Xavier. Turned out that Xavier was a Gifted kid. I knew he was smart — he was explaining something about grass that I had only just learned recenty — but I never knew he was this smart. I could probably guess, but I had forgotten about the existence of the Gifted programme in Primary Schools. Anyway, Mr Benny told me that even though the Gifted kids were smart, most weren’t capable of socialising. Which was fully supported by the view I saw when I turned to glance at Xavier: him busy crafting his wallet while the other boys monkeyed around with the glue. Some of the kids in the programme, as it turned out, had autism or similar characteristics that caused them to be socially inept. They were smart kids. They could do math I probably had trouble with, they saw things outside what the normal saw, but they just weren’t as capable at making friends. Xavier was probably a normal kid at first, but stuck in a room full of other smart but unsocial boys probably didn’t help much in his social skills. Mr Benny said some of the Gifted boys were arrogant. They didn’t know exactly what “Gifted” meant, but they knew it meant special and associated it with better. He said Xavier was, luckily, one of the more humble ones and could interact better, but still lacked a little something.

When the boys had their break afterwards, Eddie and Irfan suddenly came up with the idea of sprinting. Eddie was asking for trouble because he definitely could not outrun Irfan, even if he was in Rugby (small kid in rugby, goodness!). The other boys joined in but Xavier continued tending to his packet of food meticulously. I nudged him and asked him if he wanted to join them, he said yes but he wanted to finish his food first. (That boy was a stickler perfectionism, i noticed…) I then said offhandedly that break time was going to end soon and if he wanted to play, he should probably go now. He looked up at me, shocked, started packing his stuff and ran over to the other boys. I had a lot of time looking at the small races unfolding in front of me afterwards.

Nigel. The sweet sweet boy that has this extremely heart melting smile that’s got both Inez and I swooning. He’s melting hearts now but I reckon he’s gonna break them in the future. Well, anyway, Mr Benny said he was as hardworking as Irfan in his school work but he had a little street -smartness in him, which I could already tell! (1 point for Crystal!) But as always, Mr Benny had to point out things I would never guess. Nigel was a good judge of character and treat people the way according to his judgement. He would do things to test the person, see how much he could do before the person ticked. It sounded so much like manipulation and I was shocked; weren’t kids innocent and naive? Nigel probably did it unconsciously, kinda like testing his mother, pushing buttons here and there, in different order to see which lethal combination would get her to buy the toy he wanted. Which was true… He behaved differently to different people. Ugh, this is hard to put into words, but it was kinda like, he knew how much of something would get him into trouble with different people, so he could always stay within the threshold. Of course, if he like the people, he could treat them very very very nicely.

 

All in all, I think the camp taught me more than what I taught the kids. It was an invaluable experience and really got me thinking, maybe being a teacher wouldn’t be all that bad. I have Mr Benny to thank for this. Ive always felt that I live in an extremely sheltered environment with normal, bordering on boring, people. No one with allergies, no one with special traits, just normal, normal, normal. But I thought the kids were normal at first too! So maybe if I dig just a little deeper, there might be a lot I never knew about these people I thought I knew so well.

Sheesh, I think I’ve spent an hour and a half on this post… Okay Procrastination over! Back to work! (And back to school tmr! T.T)

 

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