There comes a time in everyones life where there is a situation in which you cannot laugh, you shouldn't laugh, and this just makes it that much funnier. Teaching in Bhutan presents me with a whole lot of these situations every single day and I still haven't mastered the ability to control myself - I sometimes laugh until I cry in front of a classroom of 40 children, but thats okay, they laugh right along with me. It is the land of happiness, after all.
I was running out of ideas of songs to teach the kids in Class 3 and settled for the ever famous, "Old MacDonald had a Farm". The children are really open minded when it comes to my crazy ideas, especially when it involves singing but this time was different. They looked at me all bright eyed and I saw the instant recognition when I asked them what sound a dog makes - they actually knew the answer to a question which happens far too rarely. There were eager hands flying all over the place and the children were literally bouncing up and down wanting to have a chance to display the sounds they had been practicing since they were a small child. And even then I was still oblivious, I totally expected the "woofs" I had associated with a dog since I was in nursery school. I had honestly never thought about their animal context until the sound that came from the child's mouth which was anything but the "woof" I was expecting - the children started growling, barking and screeching like actual dogs. These poor children were wrong, even when they were right! This song wasn't working. We tried the "woof, woof, here" and "woof, woof, there" for a while and then it was time for Old MacDonald to get a cow. I've never heard such clear and realistic imitations of a cow in my entire life. I was really at a loss by this point. The class was hysterically barking and making arbitrary animal sounds. Needless to say, we haven't sang Old MacDonald since.
While the children sit on the concrete floor in front of me I often have to get up to write on the chalkboard. The children sat patiently and watched as I drew "ee" on the board as it was going to be our next phonics sound. Before I could turn around I heard a calm and quiet "Madam, there is a spider going to your foot". As if this wasn't something we shouldn't panic about?! I'm totally afraid of spiders but kept my cool as the little boy in front of me tried to pick it up. It frantically crawled away, trying to resist him but he persisted. He carefully carried the spider outside and I was relieved that it was gone. Until, "Madam, a leg is still left behind" and "Madam, the leg is still moving." We all watched as the poor leg danced across the floor, it had obviously broken off while the boy was trying to pick it up. I felt really bad for the poor spider but when another boy carefully carried the leg outside to be reunited with the body, it was just too much. The children couldn't contain their giggles and I was long gone, too. We wasted a good few minutes fighting hard to regain our composure before we could continue with "double e".