Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Terrible Twelves

Some days teaching ESL is rewarding. Sometimes you feel like you got through to the students, that you really made a difference, that they'll be able to string a few words together and communicate in English. Today was not one of those days.

I buzzed at the building, and when I got up to the apartment, the door was ajar. I opened it tentatively. "Hello?" No answer.

I walked in and there was my twelve-year-old student, curled around his iPad playing a game. Great.

"Hi!" I said cheerfully. "How are you? You ready to start?"

He immediately flopped over on the couch and pretended to go to sleep. I told him that I was going to go to the bathroom and when I came out he should be at the table with his books ready to start. Of course, when I came out, he was still playing his game. I told him to get his books. He told me to get them in his room. I stood my ground.

Eventually, he went to get his book, complaining all the while about how he had just come home from school and how he was hungry and how he didn't understand what I was saying and could I please just speak in Italian.

Sigh. We got started by playing some reading and vocabulary games. This kid is way below where his level should be and he cannot sit still for more then 30 seconds. I tried to keep things fast-paced and to keep him focused despite CONSTANT interruptions. "Can I get a snack?" "Can I go to the bathroom?" "Hold on, I have to go see something." My patience was wearing thin. Finally he asked if he could get a drink of water. He even offered to get me one. How sweet!

He went in to the kitchen while I stayed at the table. I heard him get a glass. I heard him start pouring water. I heard a grinding noise--

"Hey! What are you doing?" I got up just in time to see him slip the salt grinder back on the shelf. He pushed the glass away from him and said that one was for later. He got two more glasses and filled them with water.

"Ok, you got the water. Let's go sit down now."

"Ok," he grabbed a glass of non-salted water.

"What about mine?" He blocked the edge of the kitchen.

"I'll get it! Just one second!"

I don't think so, you little... I pushed past him, grabbed the other glass of non-salted water and walked back to the table.

We sat down and continued the lesson. About halfway through, he switched to the other side of the table claiming he couldn't read the flashcards because there was a glare. He grabbed my glass of water and started drinking.

"That's my glass!"

"Eh, va be'. Oh, well. I'm on this side now so it's closer to me. You can drink mine; I haven't touched it yet."

OH. It dawned on me that maybe he had switched his glass with mine after I had turned my back to go to the kitchen. He had to get up to get more water (he was just "sooooooo thirsty") so I took the glass before he could see me and stuck my tongue in. Blegggh. It was like sea water. I quickly put the glass down.

"Why aren't you drinking your water?" With his pudgy cheeks, blue eyes and blonde hair, he could have been a little cherub. But I knew better.

"I'm just not thirsty right now." We reviewed question structure.

He pushed again. "If I do these 3 questions right, we should have a competition to see who can finish their glass of water the fastest."

"How can I finish a whole glass of water if I'm not even thirsty and I'm really full? That's just not good for you." Italians are kind of weird about their water. This was a good excuse.

"Come ON!" He prodded. "I'm not going to do anything else until you have a competition with me!" He crossed his arms, pouted, slumped in his chair.

I wouldn't let him win. I didn't want him to know I knew about the water, but I obviously wasn't going to drink it either. I plowed on. Only 10 more minutes and we were done.

He shifted in his seat so he was sitting on his knees. I ignored this and went on. He stood up on his chair.

"Get down."

Instead, he climbed up on the antique table. It teetered. His empty glass fell over. He grabbed at the chandelier.

"Get down." I repeated trying not to lose it.

"One day, I just want to take one of these off," he said, grabbing at one of the crystals.

Finally he got down. He did the rest of the questions. As soon as we were finished, he begged, "Come on! Now you have to do the competition! You promised!"

"I didn't promise anything, and after your behavior today, I am not going to have a competition with you."

"Next time I'll be extra-good! I promise!"

Nope! There are consequences to every action, I told him. Ha! I thought to myself! I won.

I got out of there as fast as I could gather my things. I went downstairs and stood outside the front door of the building to call my husband.

SPLAT! Water--salty water, I imagine--splattered next to me, just far enough away to miss. I didn't look up, but I knew it had been tipped out of a glass from the third floor.

I sighed and walked away unscathed. Until next week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

against my better judgement

I have been wanting to cut my hair for a while... However, I couldn't bring myself to do it because I was so attached to my hair... not to mention, I had approximately -$405 to my name.

Well... Lindsay and I started drinking some wine tonight... And eventually I said, "I have a great idea! You should cut my hair!" Obviously, this wasn't a good idea considering we had each had about half a bottle to drink. However, Lindsay started researching 'how to cut hair' online and... A few minutes later, while I was distracted chatting on facebook, I heard a snip. Lindsay had cut off a huge chunk. A six-inch chunk.

Of course, I started panicking. At that point, Lindsay couldn't exactly stop - there was a huge chunk gone! I continued panicking while Lindsay rambled on about missing her calling as a hair dresser.

Moral of the story: Keep scissors away from drunk people.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Nanny Diaries

I found a way to keep the kids entertained: photobooth!

Hopefully their parents don't mind me posting pictures of their children online...

All the kids.

Mustaches! After we took this picture, the six year old boy on the right dropped my hair and said, "Che puzzo!" which means, "What a stinky smell!" I had just washed my hair!

Looking normal.

One of the cool ones... The rest are on Lindsay's computer - more to come.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Free High Fives

I dusted off the ol' Free High Fives t-shirt at 6:30am this morning and headed to the gym with Lindsay!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Surprise, Surprise

Neither Lindsay nor I woke up in time to go to the gym. Instead, after Lindsay left for work, I headed to McCafe for a donut and a cappuccino.

In other news, the kids behaved like angels today. It was heavenly.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Joys of Joining a Gym

This morning Lindsay and I joined a gym. After stopping by an electronics store to check out the blow dryers, we discussed it over cream-filled pastries. In the end, we decided it was for the best.

We headed over to the nearest gym (20 hours Palestra – www.newway.it ) and asked how much it cost to join. An Italian girl offered to give us a tour of the gym before she told us the prices. A horrible feeling came over me – déjà vu – this had happened before… at Gold’s gym… right before they tried to charge me $400 to start… I suppressed a gasp. This couldn’t be that bad… could it?

Marta led Lindsay and I through the gym, which included a small cardio room, a small weight room, an aerobics room and a locker room. It was small, but very clean and nice. There was enough for us to get a good workout. She then took us to a tiny, stuffy room in the back where she sat us down to discuss the prices. I had to suppress another gasp. Apparently it is a universal practice to suffocate people into joining your overpriced gym.

First Marta told us how much it cost to join the gym for one year: a mere 890 euros! This time I had to clench my teeth to prevent my jaw from dropping. Thankfully, Marta then told us that there was a discount – whew! – a year would now cost only 690 euros. Oh, much better. I wanted to ask her if they offered scholarships.

Eventually we explained that we would only be here for about 6 months and we really didn’t want to – or actually, couldn’t – spend that much. I know it isn’t entirely her fault she has to swindle people into forking over their life savings just to attend G.A.G. classes (Gambe Glutei e Addominali… Italian for Guts Butts and Thighs). She was actually quite nice. In the end, she offered us a four-month, morning-only membership for 190 euros.

We accepted the offer, paid a down payment and walked out of there with the sudden realization that we had just spend February’s rent on a gym membership. As long as I go every day it will be totally worth it.

Not to mention, the gym did have blow dryers, so really I’m saving 40 euros.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Welcome to Airport Day 5

Here we are: Day 5. Lindsay and I spent the night on the floor of Terminal 2. Delta (bless its little heart!) provided us with blankets, pillows, snacks and drinks. It was the least they could do.

We actually slept for about 9 hours, ignoring the early morning crowds that stepped over us as they made their way to their gates.

When I finally woke up, the sun was shining and the sky was clear. How promising! None of the clouds, fog and rain that had plagued us for the past 4 days. I practically skipped to the bathroom for my daily morning routine: deodorant applying, face washing and teeth brushing... in the luxurious ladies restroom.

Finally, Lindsay and I headed to Terminal 1 to check in for our Lufthansa flight. We purchased our last over-priced meal and checked in. When the Lufthansa employee handed us our boarding passes, it felt like we had just won a million dollars. My eyes actually brimmed with tears.

Now we're sitting at the gate, just waiting our final 3 hours in an airport. Hooray! We're finally going to see the outside world again. Nothing can bother me now!

Not even the fact that Delta may or may not have lost our luggage.