It’s the last full day of the school term before the little kindergarten beans finish for Chinese New Year and it’s been a great one. They’re currently recharging their batteries after an energetic morning at the discovery play centre across the road. We tended to poorly animals in the vet hospital; shopped for our groceries at the supermarket; cooked our groceries in the restaurant and climbed to the highest peak in the building to look down at the peasants. There are a variety of personalities amongst the little bunch- some are introverted and quiet, others can be temperamental and sassy but this morning I witnessed so many of them blossom from their little buds in the soil into joyful little flowers. Bella is a dainty little soul who always wears her hair in pigtails and often sports a funky hair accessory. She’s quiet, but oh so clever. Her Mother often prefers her to be with Amelia because she’s so good with all the kids, I’m new and unfamiliar I get that and it’s okay. Bella was in my group today and I made sure I focused some of my time on her to make sure she wasn’t alone. When in the supermarket I asked the kids to find me lots of things, kind of like supermarket sweep (just without theorange glow radiating from Dale Winton), and Bella loved it. Her and Hao Hao were loading the fake fruits onto the conveyor belt so quickly that I scanned the items almost as quick as the workers in Lidl. I haven’t heard Bella laugh so loudly in my 3 weeks of joining the school. Bella and I then went on to conquer the climbing frame to scream the names of the other kids from a great height. Nicolas is an extrovert but I’m positive he is on the spectrum for Autism. Autism isn’t someone that is fully understood here quite often kids are just believed to be naughty because teachers refuse to be open-minded about Autistic behaviour. I was concerned about Nicolas when we were told about the morning trip to the play centre and so I had plans to keep him with my Chinese assistant. However the plans changed and I had the hand of little Nicolas. I was so warmed by his goodbehaviour and how he’d ask other adults unknown to him what they’d like to eat when they were sat in our restaurant. I’m unsure many people this side of the world understand the value and importance of expressing themselves in any which way that takes over their voice box and movement. Playing, making mistakes and being crazy is exactly what a kid needs between 3-6.
I had to do 2 evening reading classes this week as cover for another colleague and well, I tried my hardest. ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ – an English child’s most remembered story with its catchy tune and exciting actions. For a Chinese child this is a story with confusing words like “oozy”, a stupid tune and some crazy foreigner sat at the front flapping their arms around like an aircraft controller. Alex was either so bored or he had had a really hard day at school. As I began reading the story I could see his eyes getting droopy so I directed my reading to him by calling “Alex!” and asking him to read. His eyes fluttered a little but the glue on his lids were too strong. His head began to fall and his body kept waking itself up but eventually he was dead to the world, completely and utterly under a sleeping coma. I called his name, shook his leg a couple times but nope!! He then fell off his chair when I looked away and I was in hysterics. Emma, a chinese assistant at school sat him against the wall so he wouldn’t fall again and I continued my reading as he continued his head bobbing. In the end Elisabeth came in to retrieve him and take him out to his Mum.
After school finished today Amelia, Chris, Elisabeth, Maria and I headed out for dinner which was ever so yummy. Beef in a spicy chilli broth, some kind of tofu dish, peas with salted egg, noodles and rice. If Smithy from Gavin and Stacey were a real character he’d hate it here because of the food sharing. You might order a dish specifically for yourself but every plate is fair game. So yeah, dinner was lush. We were going to have a karaoke party but for some reason it got cancelled so instead Elisabeth was going to treat us to a massage at a place she visits. This spa didn’t have enough workers at one time for 4 people so we searched for another one and by chance right across the road was a ‘Blind Person Massage’ parlour. With impulse thinking we all agreed and headed into an apartment style building that looked really dingy, and knocked on the door of the parlour. We walk into a small rectangle shaped room with white tiled flooring and just one length of space to walk to and fro between four beds and the cabinets to your left. Each of us chose a bed with a blind guy waiting for us. My guy was short quite plump and kinda bald, his smile was warming and he was indefinitely blind because his eyes were constantly shut. Amelia and Chris told me to expect an amazing massage and they were not wrong – the masseuse found every tense muscle and messy knot in my neck shoulders and back. He really dug his hands in and it was just incredible, he went a little too heavy on my right calf but I needed it. Honestly, if you ever get the chance to have a massage by a blind person do it because you won’t regret it.
I have had a really great day today and am absolutely worn out. Flower, one of the girls in kindergarten gave every teacher a gift for Chinese New Year and I received a light blue beaded pin with a tassle that I can pin to my bag! It’s been one of the first days in MONTHS (not just since being in China) that I’ve climbed into bed feeling really content and happy.
Extra thought*** – Chinese parents and teachers are obsessed with having photos during class, all day every day. In England if you had your phone out at school, especially as a teacher you’d be disciplined but here it’s prompted. If no photos are taken parents often complain, don’t ask me why. Leave them be, take one or two and let them continue to learn. Obviously take lots when cute candid teacher/students shots can be taken though!!