THE DAY I HAD THE BITES
It was June 17, 2009 and it was an ordinary working day except that I received bites from a child in my classroom. (Actually, technically, it is not really my class, for I am just taking over since the real teacher is on maternity leave. )
I am a very reflective person and perceptive as well. But, because of the many roles that I have in my life, I do not have the energy anymore to write in a blog like this.
It’s been four years since the last time I was teaching in a Level 1 classroom, a class of young students from first to third grade. And though I am an experienced Level 1 teacher for 5 years, these are the days when it is scary to be around children who are still forming their concept of morality, justice and social behavior. In other words, behavior is of the essence for this group.
Last year, I had a beautiful experience with my Level 2 class, seeing my grade 6 graduate from the elementary program of the Abba’s Orchard. Most of them were my first graders in Level 1. Jethro graduated and I still remember the boy who had a tiny squeaky voice who taught the actions in a song, 12 Days of Christmas. AJ, who was one of my headstrong students, graduated with a lot of friends to miss. I can still remember that he would defy me with such confidence as if he didn’t need me. But, last year, he was almost my second assistant in the classroom. He was the perfect handyman in the classroom, a trustee especially in solving environment problems around my students. Jethro and AJ were, I should say, one of the most challenging students I had when I was a Level 1 teacher.
Yesterday, I met another lovely child and I need to hide his name as G. G didn’t want to eat his lunch and I had to ask my partner, Ms Icy, to make sure he eats. He decided not to and I realized that when he has made up his mind, he wouldn’t change it. He kicked the chair where he was supposed to sit and threw tantrums. It was a tough call!
I needed to bring him outside in order not to cause an embarassment to himself. On our way outside, he moved to scratch me. I was about to release a painful cry when he motioned to bite me. He was successful and I got 6 teeth bites from him. It didn’t stop there. I had to lock him carefully in order for him to calm down but he was very strong and furious. According to history, he has temper problems. Good thing, I learned TKD long ago, that’s why he wasn’t successful in spitting at my face.
He was screaming. I told him that he was making it difficult for both of us. It was a thirty-minute struggle and we were like wrestling with each other’s wits and strength.
I had to control myself from saying anything that might provoke him more but I was holding him tight. My 98 - pound frame is not that strong to hold on more. I thought I would snap! All I was thinking was that God would touch him and he would grow tired to stop.
He finally stopped and was sobbing. Moments like that would crush me. You see, in the life of a teacher, the most difficult thing is when you need to hurt the feelings of your student in order to teach something valuable in life. I heard myself saying, “G, I am doing this because I want to be your teacher. And though you do not understand yet why I am not giving in, I’d like you to know, I’ll be here to help you get through this day.”
He paused and pushed me away. He said, “Don’t touch me. Okay, I will eat.” I respected his request. But I told him I have to watch him from afar. I got his food and jug of water and watched him eat. I had to look for a mug of coffee to relax. Then I sat on a white chair facing the horizon with my newfound student, G.
Seeing that he was tired, I asked if he wanted to rest. He was not reluctant at all. Then I told him, “You can come back to the classroom as soon as you feel better.” After an hour, he came back. Thirty minutes passed and I saw him working well. Then when it was his turn to shake my hands and say goodbye, he then asked, “What is your name again?” I almost cried at that instant. I cleared my throat and said, “My name is Ms Jeni.” What a way to introduce each other!
Today, he came inside the classroom. He didn’t shake my hands when he came in especially that he was a prodded by another teacher for an embrace. But one thing is certain. He began to show respect. The day finished with him working beautifully. He was the last student to come out but he smiled and said, “I am going to work again tomorrow, Ms Jeni.”