Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ricky the Psychopath

In my line of work, Saturdays and Sundays are the hard days.  I work at a cram school, which is basically school for when you're not at regular school.  Playing?  Enjoying your childhood?  God forbid! (Wait a minute, there is no god.  God is the opiate of the masses.  How foolish of me.)  On Saturdays, I have five classes, or ten hours.  On Sundays, I have four classes, or eight hours.  Some people say it must be easy ("all you do is play games with kids") but it's exhausting to spend your 10 of your 14 waking hours being kicked/sneezed on/clambered around on by screaming kids.  By the end of the weekend, I feel like Bloaty the Pizza Hog from Invader Zim:

"What more you askin' for?"

My very last class on Sunday is a kindergarten class.  These are kids who have never been in a classroom before, and spend most of the class either crying, or performing various bodily functions.  It's one last hurdle to get past before my weekend (that is, Monday and Tuesday).

It is in this class that I have a kid that I call Ricky the Psychopath.  I call him that because his name is Ricky and he's a psychopath.

This kid, a five year old, embodies why I will never have children: because children are jerks.  Lots of people tell me "you know, your kid could be the one to cure cancer".  True, but more likely they'll end up being like Ricky the Psychopath.

Among his various offenses are using his considerable size to bully other kids in the class, yelling swear words in Chinese when I'm trying to talk, and grinding my chalk into a cocaine-like powder.  What I really don't get is that his parents and I are working together to help him improve his behavior, and they seem like actually good, conscientious parents who take an interest in his education and want him to do better.  And yet they ended up with this kid.

There's a good side to everyone, of course.  It would be unfair if I didn't say that Ricky has one too.  He has a baby sister in the same class.  He is very protective of, and a perfect gentleman to, her.  A Catholic theologian, Bishop Robert Barron, once said that with the right training, a bully can become a knight.  This is what I'm trying to do with Ricky.  I think it's possible, but it will take time.

So anyway, last week I was trying to teach some new letters of the alphabet.  Ricky and I had the following exchange:

Me: M is for Milk!
Ricky: (whacks the kid next to him.  Kid cries.)
Me: Ricky!  Say sorry, or time out!
Ricky: (punches me this time, while screaming)
Me: Five! (This is a system that I worked out with his parents.  If he gets five warnings in a class, he loses five minutes of playtime at home.)
Ricky: WO CAO NI MA!

This is a Chinese insult that means "I'll fuck your mom".

I tried to keep a straight face, and failed.  It was the most unintentionally hilarious thing I'd heard in weeks.  I don't think I've ever laughed that hard at a five year old before.  I have no idea how he learned that expression, but hearing him squeak it at me in genuine, if impotent, rage was the kind of thing you couldn't write down.  Hey everybody, new rule: you're not allowed to say that if you are anatomically unable to do it.

And yes, Ricky got a time out for that.  No sticker after class either.

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