My 30 day blog challenge ended a while ago. I’m glad I’ve completed it, but part of me is missing the daily outpouring of allthethings like it mattered. It’s nice that the writing bug has bit again, but it’s also a procrastination bug, because I should actually be editing my book instead of writing new things but here we are! Because I just have to tell you about this week . . .

i lurv you, hongkers.

Someone on our staff went on blessed maternity leave, and I was “asked” to fill in.

This year has been one of the most challenging for me on a professional level. I’m learning a lot.

Selfishly, moving into this first grade class and out of the hodgepodge that was my ESL job has been a welcome blessing. It’s soul-crushing to work with the kids who struggle the most over and over. I’ve been doing it for five years now. My schedule has been crazy, and having to constantly adjust what I’m teaching and how I’m teaching it with kids who are 6-11 years old is exhausting. So now I just have one squirming class of six year olds. At my busiest, I was teaching 115 kids a day, so just memorizing the quirks of 22 is a bit easier. But still it’s own brand of weird.

Hands down my favorite memory so far has been being called “puffy.”


This kid who is Spanish/Russian but grew up in Italy came up to me and was patting my arm, and I realized, watching the batwings jiggle.

“I like you,” he said. “I like you because you’re puffy.”

I sat up, startled. “Do you mean ‘funny’?” I asked.

He looked at me seriously. “You’re funny, too. But I like you because you’re puffy.”

This first week was a bit of a doozy. I had kids with fevers and allergic reactions, injuries from falling in the bathroom and slamming their heads against the urinal (for some reason, very common at our school), six cases of head-lice, threw together an event for all the mom’s to come to on Friday (made them dance disco and learn “El Sapo,” about a frog who loves Jesus, which makes sense), was observed during a maths lesson during which all the kids just spun the hands on the clocks I gave them and acted like they’ve never learned how to tell time before, a student who has an Apple watch and has been calling her mom during class and bus line up, and still managed my gym classes, dressed like a shark for YoungLife, led a hymn for staff, tutoring, and small group! I love being so busy. Keeps me off the streets.

It’s so nice to have the same group of kids all day. I can switch things around, we can get to know each other really well. Teaching first grade is different than the normal age of kids I think I’m best at, though. For starts, all my sarcasm, which is my native language, has to stop. But my silliness can go way up. I get hugged a LOT. I made a kid cry because I said she was whining, and then we talked about it, and for the rest of the day, she wrote me three cards, made me a ring, was my little shadow. I showed them “The Velveteen Rabbit” cartoon, as we’re coming up to Easter, and a mom said her son told her that I had showed a movie about people dying, so that was fun to sort out. A kid sneezed directly into my face. They’re still learning to read and write. But they are lovely. Truly lovely.

My Gma Susi taught first grade for thirty years, and I understand why more each day. You can see a kid grow up in a week. I get to teach them how to tell time! They think everything I do is magical and hilarious. It’s poetry week, and they wrote simple poems about their moms that broke my heart.

We memorized “An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” as a class and it makes them fall over in giggles. I pretend to be a robot scanning for good kids to dismiss them for lunch and they hold their breath and sit up so straight it looks painful until I call on them, which makes us all laugh. We won the Panda award at assembly, which is for the quietest class, and means we get 15 minutes extra recess, and we cheered like we had won a trip to Disneyland. Who would have thought I could have a class known for good behavior?!

Another fun thing that happened was my aunt Martha came to visit! I haven’t seen her in years, but she is a flight attendant, and one of her friends won a hotel stay here in Hongkers, so they got free flights over and did a really aggressive five day tour of HK, which included one afternoon and evening with me. It was so cool to get so show someone in my family where I work, and wander around the neighborhood, eat some good Thai food and then get in some nice views.

on the rooftop playground at my school!

Finally, for Rachel’s embarrassing moment of the week – we had Book Week at school, which was really fun to have a book fair, and kids getting so excited to read. On Friday we had a parade where you dress as a character from a story you like, and I was asked to emcee it. I made a costume to be a book fairy, which took a lot of glue gunning and I was covered in glitter and had a wand and I was ecstatic about it.

look how epic my wings are

So I welcomed the kids and their parents who were waiting patiently to watch their children parade around for five seconds in their adorable homemade costumes from Eric Karle books and Dogman and a lot of kids just in Star Wars costumes, because they wanted to be. And then some kids asked me what I was.

“A book fairy!” I replied.

“What do you do?” they asked.

“Oh, I go around and give everyone happy endings!” I said. “I love to make sure everyone has a happy ending!”

I paused, frozen as I took in the unintentional double entendre. ‘Did I really just say that into a microphone?! Don’t look up, don’t look at your friends,’ I told myself. No one seemed to notice, and the day moved on. But the memory burns within me still.

The end. Of this blog post. Hope it was a happy one.