Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Queen of Brats

No matter how strong we think we are,

No matter how thick a skin we think we have,

We all have a fragile heart.

Easily wounded. Easily hurt. Easily crushed.

With words, actions. Subtle gestures, and facial expressions.

By friends, loved ones, family. Even by little eight-year-old brats.

Maybe the last one is just me.

The last three lessons with this little girl have been, to put it aptly, hell. And I am not exaggerating.

have met my fair share of brats, let me tell you that. Brats who won't sit still, who scream and yell and shout the building down, who run around, or lie down on the floor and refuse to move (yes, try getting an eight-year-old off the floor when he doesn't want to. TRY IT.)

But this girl is, for certain, an entire breed of brat all on her own--a highly advanced one too. What I mean is, she's like, the absolute Worst Brat of all Brats. The Mother of all Brats. The Queen of Brats.

Every week, she enters the room screaming and yelling god knows what. She throws her books, flings her stationery across the room. She climbs onto the piano bench, jumps around. She kicks the small stool meant for placing feet, cos the kids are still too small for their feet to reach the floor while sitting on the piano bench. She refuses to even sit properly on the piano bench to play, and instead, bangs the keys on the piano ferociously, yelling triumphantly, "Here, let me play the piano for you!" She is distracted by anything and everything, ignoring me as I try to persuade her to play the piano properly. I guess you can tell, two teachers are not enough to control this little  creature  monster brat.

But worst of all, is her attitude. Gorsh, does she have serious attitude problems.

She is disrespectful and rude, and speaks to me and the other teacher as if we were the kids, and she was the Boss. She has called me numerous names over the past three lessons, talked back to me, shouted at me.

She challenges me at every turn, and I find myself having to control my temper every time I speak to her. Which she barely listens to anyway.

I have tried everything. I tried different approaches, sometimes over a span of ten minutes. The first lesson, I tried being nice, and buddy-buddy. I joked with her, teased her. Tried to nudge her to play. But she climbed over my head and trampled all over me. Well, I guess I completely understand the expression now, cos it sure felt that way.

Then I tried being strict. I gave her a stern stare and told her, "Tse Teng, tan hao hao lai. Ni yao wo da ni ma?" (Tse Teng, please play properly. Do you want me to hit you?) Her response? "HUH, Ni hui da ren de meh? Wo bu pa ni ar!" (HUH, would you actually hit anyone? I'm not afraid of you!)

When I reprimand her, she yells, "Ni xiang ni hen da meh? Wo da guo ni ar!" (literally translated: You think you're so big? I'm bigger than you!)

"Wo bu yao tan liao!" (I don't want to play anymore!) and then she'd slam her books shut and stomp off to stuff them in her bag. And I'm left at the piano, staring after her in disbelief. Stunned speechless.

Today, I had tried a different tactic. I came bearing gifts--chocolate-filled marshmallows, to bribe them into behaving well. All I wanted was at least one pleasant lesson. Just one.

She was wary at first, saying that I wouldn't give them to her anyway. I gave her a pinky promise, telling her I would definitely give her the treats if she behaved herself and played properly for me. She agreed. I was so relieved! She actually played more today than she had for the past two weeks combined! :D

But that didn't last long. No sirree.

After she'd gotten her marshmallow, I guess I had to expect she was the kind of person who would demand more. I told her I would give her another, with the condition being that she would complete her theory work, and behave herself, and listen to the other teacher as well. But she kept demanding them from me, harassing me every few minutes, even while I was tending to the other children.

It got to the point where I was very annoyed. I began to ignore her. I mean, if she had asked me nicely, I might answer her nicely. She was like, "Eh, gei wo gei wo gei wo!" (Eh, gimme gimme gimme!) And what I asked of her was reasonable, was it not? She had not done any of her theory work, was torturing the other teacher too, and was obsessed with climbing behind the clavinova, so why should I give her another marshmallow? She certainly did not deserve it!

When she got tired of me ignoring her, she practically climbed onto the piano bench, while there was another student sitting there, completely interrupting us, and said, "Wo you dong xi gen ni jiang," (I have something to tell you.) "Ni shi sa ben dan! Ni shi tan xin po!"

Okay, I know my Mandarin is not exactly fluent. But I understood what she said to me then. It is difficult to translate that, but she was basically saying I was crazy, and stupid. And that I was a greedy bitch. (Okay, it doesn't exactly mean 'bitch', but literally translated, it means grandmother. And obviously she does not mean I'm her grandma. You figure it out yourself.)

Those were pretty harsh insults. Ones that I found, surprisingly, hurtful.

I did not realize how badly they had wounded me, until I came home and sat on my bed, with tears flowing from the corners of my eyes.

How silly is that? How stupid am I?

She's just a freakin' eight-year-old!

Nevertheless, those words hurt me. They made me feel like I'm such a failure at being a teacher because I can't even get an eight-year-old to practice the piano. I used to think kids loved me as much as I loved them. I guess not.

I remember at the end of the lesson, just as she left the room, and when I still refused to give her that darn marshmallow, she threw me this absolutely dirty look. I could read very well what she was trying to tell me: "I HATE YOU." When I tried to talk to her, she shouted at me, in tears, "Bu yao gen wo jiang hua! Wo xin qing bu hao!" (Don't talk to me! I'm in a bad mood!)

Well guess what, BRAT, so am I.

I used to think that, no matter how "challenging" a student is, I will never give up on a student. I will never do that.

But I cannot handle this student. I cannot handle this...this brat.

What kind of a child is this who has no respect whatsoever for her elders? Who has the audacity and the gall to yell and scream and stomp her feet if she doesn't get her way? Who has such a potty mouth? Who has not even a scrap of manners? Who can call people such hurtful names?

She makes me drag my feet to a job that I actually quite enjoy. She has turned me into some monster, someone I do not like, that I told myself I'd never become.

I do not want to see her next week. 

I hope I never see her again.


Mr Lonely said...

in deed, so true... T.T

Ðârren said...

i'm sorry, su li =( i know perfectly well what its like to have a uncooperative piano student, though admittedly, your story made my ex-student seem like a docile, obedient boy.

my student had a habit of disregarding instructions whenever he was at the piano, and i really got tired of it. so at the start of one lesson, i told him that if he were to disobey me one more time, i'm sending him straight home, because there's no point in me teaching if he's not gonna listen. i could do something else with that half hour. 2 minutes into the lesson, he was out of my house =|

you seem to have a great passion for teaching, su li. don't let this little brat ruin that passion, the world needs more kind and understanding teachers like you

SandraC said...

if the cane and carrot way dont work ignorance is the best. my mom always does that. i pity u..that is why i dont really wanna teach in sch. i dont have that patience n love like u and my mom. best of luck darls!

Hannah said...

I'm nervous about working with children, because when they insult you, they do it with such brutal childish bluntness. J.M Barrie's right: children are young, innocent and HEARTLESS. In your case, I'm wondering whether she's innocent. Perhaps this calls for a meet the parents session? You can't be the only one correcting her..

k0k s3n w4i said...

Children are basically psychopaths. I've known that for years - which is why I detest them, and decided to never have kids.

Liz said...

Thanks for all your support guys. I have just called the Principal of the school and explained everything to her. It seems that they have talked to the parents before, but the parents' response has been indifferent. (Makes me wonder what the parents are doing with their kids. Obviously no disciplining is done AT ALL. >.<) She will discuss with the parents to take the girl out of that group class and give one-on-one individual attention. Pity the teacher who takes her, then.

>>k0k s3n w4i
I wouldn't go so far as to say they are psychopaths. Maybe this one is, but not all are. I have met lovely ones who are pure, and sincere and innocent. (Like Zi Xin, in the last photo posted up there--she studies the lesson BEFORE coming into class :P) They are such a pleasure to teach, and I would even say they bless me each time I meet them :)