This morning at GATE School, we had a fire drill. I know that at home, the teachers are far better prepared than the students, but knowledge of the impending emergency drill is really as far as it goes. In Korea, however,we're really prepared. Like, all the way prepared.
Twenty minutes before the fire drill, we had to get the kids ready to go. We bundled them up in their coats and scarves and waited in a patient line for the alarm to ring. Maybe I just forget how it was in elementary school and this is actually the norm, but I feel like I recall standing in the freezing cold hoping that I'd get to witness the moment when the whole building exploded (I pulled all my knowledge of fires from Hollywood).
Our school is on the fourth floor of an office building, so we had to lead the kids down four flights of stairs to the parking lot. I need to brag a little bit here: my kids were by far the best behaved.
Look at them standing all quiet and adorable in a line! If only they were that well-behaved all the time...
As we walked back up the stairs, I felt a ridiculous fondness for my littles. I felt extremely protective, like if a fire were to pop up in the hallway, I would dive headfirst into it and beat it into submission with my bare hands. Apparently mama bear instincts in my head are closely tied to affection; I frickin' loved those kids by the time we got back upstairs. They were my favorite people in the whole world, and I wanted to show them off to everyone as though they were prize-winning sheep.
This wouldn't be weird for me, except the fact that this isn't the first time emergency procedures have made me like a group of kids significantly more than I did ten minutes before. During my student teaching, we had a "pretend-there's-a-psycho-loose-in-the-building-and-hide-in-the-corner-of-your-classroom-so-you-can-get-killed-like-sitting-ducks" drill, during the class that drove me crazy. I kind of hung out in the corner letting the kids be my human shield for the first thirty seconds or so, but when they all had huddled into the corner, some kind of weird savior complex came over me. I made my way to the front of the group and proudly stationed myself in front of all my kids. I knew no one was actually coming to get us, and I also knew that if they did, I'd be the least effective bullet shield on the planet. When the drill was over, I genuinely felt like all the kids were still alive due to some protective maneuver on my part. They owed their lives to me, and that made me like them more.
I'm so weird.
I've spent the whole day desperately in love with my kids. During lunch, I usually tell them they have to leave me alone, but today I jumped out of my chair and played with them. It sounds pretty stupid now that I'm typing it; I teach a bunch of three- and four-year-olds yet I never play with them, but I just don't. I was so frustrated with having to teach a classroom full of kids who don't speak my language that I forgot that they're just kids. It turns out they're actually pretty fun.
(Little story: when I was playing with the kids, all the boys chased me with guns they had made out of legos. My co-teacher shouted something at them in Korean, and I asked her what she said. "I told them to stop killing the teacher." Does that make anyone else laugh or am I just really giddy today? I guess it doesn't matter.)