Intrepid Girl Reporter

Sunday, 18 October: the heart wants to feel and the heart wants to hold
October 19, 2009, 12:08 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, IGR Recommends, media, movies, reading

Nothing like fall for groundless melancholy. It’s been cold and wet here for the past five days; by this past Friday, my kids hadn’t had recess for three days straight, so for our Fun Friday we held a “Rainy Day Dance!” during which some of them literally just jumped up and down in place, presumably to burn the energy the monkey bars normally might have received. I let the teachers DJ, and the music seemed a little loud to me, but bear in mind whom we’re discussing: I hated school dances because I hate crowds and loud music, so all music in that sort of scenario is going to be too loud for me. I am not a good barometer. Then the principal called me over and told me that she had received parent complaints about the noise level, and that we had to be mindful of our noise because of our, quote, “changing population.” I think what this means is that she thinks white people are scared of loud music, but I’m not positive.

IGRB and I went to see “Where the Wild Things Are” this morning, and I loved it. He gave it 2.5-3 out of 5 stars, but to quote him, it’s okay to think wrong things sometimes. It’s very much a movie for my demographic and generation though, and maybe that sounds selfish, maybe I am too narrow-minded and the movie can be appreciated by all ages and backgrounds, but let’s be realistic here: it’s directed by Spike Jonze from a screenplay by Dave Eggers. I own a Spike Jonze music video retrospective. Come on now. Anyway, we were discussing this and being able to identify with the main characters – because I didn’t really appreciate the book until I was grown, being more of a Chicken Soup with Rice fan myself, and I definitely occupied more of the older-sister position in my household. But the thing is: I work with Max. I see him every day. There’s a kid named Marcus at my school, a kindergartener, who has to wait for his older brother to come downstairs so they can walk home, and during the beginning of this arrangement he cried for three days in a row because he was convinced that he might not come back. Now when he sees me, he tells me: “Not gonna cry today!” (Incidentally, I also have a three-year-old who says things like, “Ms. IGR, I’m not going to scratch anyone today.” Does he want a cookie?) It’s funny that in many respects, I wasn’t very good at being a kid. In some ways I think I’m better equipped for childhood now than I was back then.


Monday, 12 October: Columbus Day
October 12, 2009, 11:39 pm
Filed under: 공부방 (after-school program) | Tags: ,

This weekend IGRB and I were supposed to go apple picking, a long-awaited day trip that was supposed to provide us with idyllic opportunities to climb trees and generally frolic in the fall weather. Somehow, however, we managed to pick the one orchard that the entire city of Baltimore had decided to visit. Also the apple trees were in disconcertingly neat rows, the tops trimmed off, the pesticides streaked on each apple. It felt like such a castrated version of our imagination. Also, it was not very cold. Such a small thing, but I almost cried with frustration.

It turned out that the real experience was in the beet and spinach fields, because – and I know you will be surprised about this, o my readers – no one cares very much about spinach or beets, so it was us and a few old ajumaa in visors. Picking beets is terrific fun, actually, and yes, I realize that such a statement makes me one of the more exciting people in existence today. But it was neat to look for the biggest ones poking out of the muddy ground. Here, unlike in Kentucky and Indiana, they’ve abandoned the descriptor “U-Pick” for the slightly classier acronym “PYO” (“pick your own”). Sometimes I think that if I were actually a farm laborer and I saw people paying money to pick crops, I would go blind with rage, but unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that I enjoyed myself.

Tomorrow I have to come up with behavior plans for an angry fourth grader and a four-year-old who could best be described as a loose cannon. I have to admit, the problem solving aspects of my job are probably the most enjoyable.

Thursday, 8 October: the gremlins
October 9, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, 공부방 (after-school program)

One of the most distinctive characteristics of the kids that I work with is their voices. I’m not sure why I’ve never noticed it in my other jobs; I think it’s because this is my first time being seriously immersed in early childhood ed, and a weird voice stands out more when it comes from someone under three feet tall. De’von looks like a light-skinned, vaguely bumpy-headed Buddha and sounds like a character from “King of the Hill.” Zachariah has massive, beautiful bug eyes and a voice somewhere between Marilyn Monroe and those aliens on Toy Story. Marshe is tiny, with a small Afro, and sounds like Chucky. This is a typical Marshe conversation:

MARSHE I can have some of the soda?

IGR No, Marshe. This belongs to me.

MARSHE (no change in tone or facial expression) I hate you.

IGR What did you just say?


We’re also growing a garden at our school – well, one of the student teachers is, I can’t take any credit – and tomorrow at Community Meeting we’re going to be raffling off a watermelon the size of a bocce ball. The kids – especially the little ones – could not be more excited. I would compare them to Jonas Brothers tickets, but without being around tweens all the time, I don’t even know if that reference is timely anymore. At least for now, I’ll take the trade-off.