I must admit, it can be a LOT of fun working with little children. By little children I mean between 5 and 7. It can also be terrible and beyond frustrating. What I enjoy about it is how easy it can be to distract them (this is a mixed blessing, because if you aren’t entertaining them, they will do other things besides pay attention.) I can make a silly face, start singing a song, bring out a puppet (for the little little ones) or change activities. Sometimes even just having them stand up and sit down a few times grabs their attention. When a chorus of non-native speakers actually answers a question correctly, and sometimes beyond what you were looking for, it is amazing and makes it feel like all the time and effort is paying off. At these moments I tend to send a little prayer to the cosmos and try not to get to excited because the opposite moments occur nearly as frequently. Those moments when you’ve been drilling vocab and grammar for weeks in various games, songs and worksheets and you ask a simple question and a student stairs at you blankly and says “Co?” (What). At those moments I want to throttle the child.
Something that I have, luckily, only had to deal with a few times is a child calling for their bum to be wiped. I have wiped my niece’s bum, but I will not wipe an unrelated child’s bum. That time there happened to be a grandmother watching the lesson and since she is Czech she could understand what the child was saying and she took care of it. Frankly, it’s not in my job description and I can’t leave a whole class unattended.
The other day as I was playing a new game with my students called “ostrich” a little girl looked as if she were going to cry. I went up to her and asked if she wanted to sit down or go to the toilet. I was leaning over, my face close to hers, when fate intervened. Just as she grabbed her stomach and projectile vomited all over the floor, I straightened up to lead her to a chair, narrowly avoiding having the contents of her stomach all over my face and in my mouth.
My immediate reaction was to shove her into the bathroom and get my boss. The other children scattered from the area and covered their mouths. All looked as if they were going to hurl. I needed to get them out of that room.
I just managed to get her in the bathroom before she vomited again. This time all over the bathroom sink and floor. I poked my head into my bosses class and told her what was up. She had me move my students into her class and take over both lessons. She was going to clean it up.
After I opened all the windows in my room as one boy ran to the bathroom to vomit, no one could pay any attention. They were all too focused on the vomit and describing what happened- or so I am assuming, it was all in Czech.
I was very lucky. I managed to even evade the splatter. I do not even want to think about what I would have done if I had not stood up right when I stood up. I would have probably joined her in emptying my stomach and then insisted on going home. That would have left 4 lessons for my boss to suddenly have to take over. She would not have been happy.
So poo and vomit are all in a days work as a teacher of younger students. Although, again, I do not often have to deal with it, but I don’t feel like I should ever have to deal with it as a part of my profession. Unless, of course I work in a day care or as an au pair (which I don’t plan on ever doing). Hopefully neither incident will be repeated anytime soon. I think I can only handle so much vomit per term.