October 26, My minions

My fifth grade travel school kids are slowly climbing the ladder to being my favorites.

Ten minutes before 5-1 English class starts, two girls come early to chat with me. It started the other week and has continued since.

The two are equal height but one is more extroverted with long hair; the other is quiet but witty with a hair cut so short it rivals her male classmates yet somehow fits her perfectly.

I didn’t know we had established a pattern but kids are great like that. I wandered back to the English classroom only to find the two crowded by the desk waiting for me.

I gave them a sneak preview of the ghost choir video and quizzed them on Halloween words. I put my hand out asking for a low five and then held their cold slender fingers, crying about how chilly they were. It was really just an excuse to hold their sweet little hands for a moment as COVID has taken away so much of the physical affection I used to be doused in.

The pandemic has really decimated the protocols for contact and so often we run to each other only to stand half a foot apart, arms extended, wondering if hugging is still a thing we’re allowed to do.

Korea was always more touchy than America, even in school settings, but I’m worried COVID has altered the culture permanently. I didn’t know how much I loved platonic physical affection until the pandemic took it away.

Later at school, the long haired 5-1 girl and a few 5-2 kids shouted at me through the open science hall window.

“What’s up,” I said, high fiving them through the opening.

It felt significant. Maybe because we were meeting on a casual playing field, or maybe because the kids who talk least in class are the ones who shout excitedly at me outside of class, or maybe because it was just absurd to be high fiving through a window.

If I worked at this school full time I know we’d have the tightest knit relationship.

Kids are actually great.

They are honest, deep feeling, expressive, and open minded. They’ll cheer you on when you do pull-ups on the playground but also tell you your haircut makes you look like a boy.

They’ll laugh at your jokes and scream out your name in the hall and wave to you across the street.

They’ll pick up a wiggling ant and show you as if it’s the world’s next treasure.

They’ll make a house of toilet paper for a giant spider in the bathroom and cry when they feel wronged.

They’re complex and difficult and heartbreaking and frustrating and wonderful. For all the trials, I’m lucky to have had this time with them. I hope they remember me fondly when I go.

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