4.1 Spring 2022

March 21, Jinsu and the beanstalk

I was leaving school for the day when a boy in a white taekwondo uniform skipped with swinging arms past the stream of exiting teachers and stopped directly in front of me.

Making hard but curious eye contact, he dropped his arms and asked, “Why are you so tall?”

This is not at all what I could have guessed and laughed, finally using a line like a parent:

“When I was young I ate a lot of vegetables. And milk.”

He pondered that for a moment and then ditched further thought by trying to jump to reach my height. I held up a hand so that he could try to hit it.

For being a small, possible first grade, student, he could really jump.

He turned on his heel, presumably to continue his hero’s journey.

“Wait,” I told him, “a high five.”

He ran back and at his speed I was worried he was simply going to bulldoze me until he jumped into a literal high five like a character from Haikyuu. I have no idea who that was, but experience tells me he was probably returning to pick up a sibling from after school class.

On a turn around the floor earlier, I had actually run into one of my new fourth graders.

“Oh, hello!” I said.

“Hi… Alligator teacher,” he whispered, giggling to himself.

On a tough day after multiple disruptions, I scolded one fourth grade class about using my name properly. That was obviously the wrong call as they now refer to me as Alligator teacher instead of Abigail teacher when they’re outside of class.

Sigh. Such is life.

Last year the fourth graders called me Elevator teacher. I’m from Florida, so at least alligator is more thematically appropriate…

“Hey… that’s not my name.” I told him, feigning exaggerated sadness.

He giggled and said it again, but I asked him if he remembered my real name.

“Of course. Abigail teacher…” He said, then quietly added, “Alligator teacher,” goofily giggling to himself again. He’s cute so I’ll let it slide. We played a hand slap game for a moment before I asked him what he was up to in the back hallway all alone after school.

“I’m waiting for Mingang,” he replied, assuming I knew he meant. Which I did! This boy proudly told me last week that his brother, who upon closer look bears a striking resemblance, is in sixth grade. The older brother is someone I see all around town at the most random moments.

We talked in Korean for a few more moments before I left him to wait.

“Goodbye… alligator teacher,” he laughed quietly to himself.

At least the kids will remember the English word for 악어. Time to change this blog to Alligator Abroad!

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