One of my eight-year-old students here in South Korea has a bit of a temper. Most days he comes to class upset about something or another.
“Teacher, I’m angry at my friend. He teased me.”
“Teacher, I’m angry at my mom. She yelled at me for hitting my brother. ”
“Teacher, I’m angry at you. You said there’s a spelling test today.”
“Teacher, I’m angry at my shoes. They’re uncomfortable.”
“Teacher, I’m angry at the sky. It made me wet.”
And so on.
He even admits it himself. Why just the other day, without the slightest prompting, he turned to me and declared:
“Teacher, do you know why I am always so angry? It’s probably because I was born in Italy.”
I had to admit to myself that it made a certain amount of sense.
And it is true that he was born in Italy – his Korean parents were living there at the time, and not a day has gone by since becoming my student that he hasn’t reminded me of that fact.
Like the first time we met: “Nice to meet you Teacher. Did you know that I was born in Italy?”
Like when he meets new children: “Hi, where were you born? I was born in Italy.”
Like when he needs something: “Teacher, I forgot my pencil and did you know I was born in Italy?”
Like when he feels aggrieved about something in the way that children often do: “It’s not fair! I was born in Italy!”
So when he explained his reason for being so hot tempered he was in all likelihood just trying to find a creative way to tell me that he was special, a snowflake like no other. Or maybe he really believed it. Or maybe that’s just what his mom told him when she was feeling worn out from him. Who knows?
There’s never a boring day in this racket.