What You Say? (cont’d)

So remember that one time when I said that Taz said really funny things (see below)? Well, this morning his sassitude was at an all-time high, and I might have to renege on the aforementioned statement.

I do breakfast for the kids. This involves slicing bread, buttering said bread and then applying either (homemade, sent from the heavens) jam or honey. I always ask the kiddos if they want cocoa, and now that it’s getting colder they usually want at least one cup, if not more. On this particular morgen, Taz woke up for the first time at 5:00. This small human is the most active person I have ever met. And it starts immediately when he rises. When I walked down to the kitchen this morning he had tied a jump rope from the tail of his pony to a couple of boxes and was pulling them around the house screaming, “Yeehaw!!” <–They just watched a cowboy cartoon movie this week.

Needless to say, he was raring to go. After the children were settled at the table with their bread I asked who wanted cocoa. Taz said he did, so I busied myself with the electric kettle and began spooning Ovaltine into a cup. Not more than two minutes later he yelled, “HEY!! Du (you)! Where’s my COCOA!” I stopped cold and exclaimed, “Excuse me?!” in a not-so-nice tone. I think he was a little nervous so he kept his mouth shut and refrained from repeating the question. But, I mean! I cannot ever imagine talking to my mom, or “the help,” that way.

Moments later he wanted to ask the Mom a question. She had clearly just woken up and is usually not the hyped-up animated creature that Taz is. He kept asking her if he could say something and she kept telling him to wait a moment, she was making a coffee and he could talk to her when she came to the table. Over and over again he asked her, “Mami, kann ich du erpies sage?” (Mom, can I say something to you?) In the little man’s defense, she does often let him reach volcanic eruption before deigning to reply. Finally, the lava spilled over: “DU!! Get in here! NOW!!” All she said was, “Ok, ok. Ich komme.” (I come). Is this some kind of joke? When do I get to make the commentary on what just happened here? Your child just owned you in that last conversation. How am I ever supposed to get any kind of respect from this little monster, er, boy?

Like I said, I know without a doubt I would have gotten (and still would get!) some serious reprimanding if I ever opened my mouth to my mom or dad like that. The open denial of authority and blatant lack of respect make the prospect of leaving more and more palatable.

“I like you not jetzt!”

This, in Taz talk, means, “I don’t like you right now!” And sometimes I don’t blame him. I consider myself to be a rather even-keeled and patient person. I find that not too much ruffles my feathers. This is not to say things don’t grind my gears every once in a while, but I think I am tolerant and it takes quite a bit to upset me. This job, however, has pushed me to limits that I haven’t seen in some time; let’s just say anger isn’t my best look.

Yesterday I had the kids from 7-5 by myself. Usually on Mondays Mémé comes and I don’t have to do much–I know I’ve mentioned how I can turn cleaning my room into a two hour affair. But on this particular Monday she was unable to come so I worked overtime (and earned a cool extra Fr.100, which I will put toward my holiday this weekend). I had to pick up Rapunzel from school with the other two kiddos in tow. She has what we call a “wandering eye” in that EVERYTHING has the ability to distract her. This happens to be a problem on her walk home, which can turn into a lengthy ordeal. Yesterday she was 30 minutes late. The Mom told me to turn the oven on before we left to get her, that way I could pop the pizzas in right when we got home. So after 20 minutes of waiting I am convinced the house is going to explode at any minute. When she’s 25 minutes late, I have two kids that are quickly dissolving in tears because they are so hungry and restless; we are approaching meltdown. Finally I see her cresting the hill 30 minutes late. I holler, “Rapunzel, come on! Shake a leg!” Taz and Little Bean chime in with their own, “Shake a leg!” and we wait for her to get to us so we can head home. Right when she gets to us I lay into her about how I asked her to hurry home since I had to bring the other two and I am disappointed that she is so late today. She pulls a basket out from behind her back and shows me a huge collection of wildflowers. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I was just picking these for you. I thought you could put them in your room.” Commence me feeling like the biggest jerk of all time. I’m frustrated at myself for immediately wanting to snap at her rather than inquire why she was so tardy. I leaned down to hug and thank her for the beautiful gift.

Today I was trying to get Taz and Little Bean out of the house in time to make the 9:40 train to Wädenswil. We have all been feeling pretty stir-crazy in the house as it’s been raining non-stop. I tried to keep track of how many days in a row it has rained but I lost track at 19, and that was a while ago. So I thought I could make up a few things I needed to pick up at the Coop in order to get us outdoors. I was scrambling around trying to get shoes and jackets, find the contents of my purse, and locate both children. All the sudden I hear Taz say, “Uh, KrisTIna (he always accents that part of my name), Little Bean is one the stairs…by herself…really high.” I run over to find her at the top of these Death Trap stairs they have. It is a tightly wound spiral staircase and one slip and that girl is in for a world of hurt. I climb up and grab her and start to go off on how she is not to be on the stairs by herself. Of course, this is completely futile on my part as she doesn’t understand most of what I’m saying and it’s my fault she was there in the first place. I was the one who forgot to close the gate and wasn’t keeping an eye on her. She begins to cry and scream because I am basically yelling at her. I had to set her down and walk away for a minute so I could berate myself for punishing a child when it wasn’t her fault.

These little incidents bother me as they are not characteristic of who I am. There were several times last semester when I was in the classroom and I couldn’t help but think I didn’t even like who I was when I was around the kids. I found I was short on patience and quick to snap. These examples, and other more legitimate reasons, are leading me to believe I am not meant to pursue a profession working with little humans. And I mean this with all seriousness. I can’t stand the thought of embarking on a career when I come home from this year that I am not fully committed to. I’m not totally sure but maybe it’s time to start thinking about other avenues to explore. Any suggestions??

Live and Learn

One of the many valuable lessons I learned through my student teaching experience was that it’s important to not hold grudges against kids. For example, if the class was really rowdy and unresponsive right before Specials it would be silly to still be mad at them when they returned. Most likely while they were releasing their 8-year-old angst through a serious game of kickball they have completely forgotten about the incident and/or behavior. I would be doing them no favors by giving them the cold shoulder, rather I need to start over and perhaps alter my teaching strategies to make the classroom more manageable. I have found this to be true over here as well. Although it is slightly different since I live with these kiddos and I don’t have the luxury of sleeping in a different location.

Mondays are a relatively easy day for me as the Grandma comes and I have time to clean my room and bathroom. She usually doesn’t need me downstairs so I have taken to including checking email, flipping through magazines, and basic procrastinating into my routine. This morning I managed to draw out my cleaning process into just under 2 hours. I ambled downstairs to find Little Bean in an unusually sour mood. Whenever I came within a 15 foot radius she would shout “nay!” and throw her arm out as if she wanted to claw me. I know I don’t look my best in the mornings but that’s no reason to get upset.

I decided to draw with Taz instead and make some pictures for Rapunzel’s birthday, which is this weekend. Taz is still learning how to move seamlessly between German and English so most of his phrases are jumbled and the syntax is quite off. It took me a couple weeks to catch on, but even now I sometimes refer to myself as “having a hungry” as opposed to being hungry. So, this morning he asks, “Kristina, can you me a boat do?” This means, “Can you draw me a boat?” I made the mistake of drawing a couple sailboats when I first arrived and now that’s all he wants me to draw. I have taken to expanding my repertoire to ships and Bayliners and I could probably draw them in my sleep at this point. I whip up a fancy sailboat for him and sit at the drawing table as he proceeds to scribble over it and call it a masterpiece, which clearly, it is. This goes on for about 45 minutes until I run downstairs to shift around some laundry.

I am hauling my basket upstairs and I hear an ear-splitting scream from below. Not wanting any part of this action, I choose to stay in my room until the storm passes. This storm is far from dissolving, however, and Taz is now in the midst of a full-blown breakdown. I catch him on the landing kicking over a table, shattering the phone. Scared by his own Hulk-like strength he scoots his little behind back in his room and I shut the door on him. This only leads to more screaming and my inevitable trek downstairs to figure out what’s happened. The Grandma says he was mauling Little Bean and was sent to his room for a time-out. To make a (painfully) long story short, the yelling, screaming, and tantrum-throwing went on until I left the house at noon, sharp. I had plans to be in town, and even if I didn’t there was absolutely no way I was hanging around for that kind of rage.

After 7 hours spent in town, I slowly turned the key in the door to see what kind of psycho mood swings were awaiting me. I get three steps in the door and I hear Taz yell, “Kristina’s home!” He comes running from the kitchen with the World’s Biggest Smile and gives me a giant hug around the thighs. I kid you not, he says, “I’m so glad you’re home!” and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t mean it with that sweet expression on his face. He helps me out of my jacket and asks me if I had a good day. Then he instructs me to head to the kitchen so I can have some delicious (a word I’ve been teaching him) dinner with everyone. I picked my jaw up off the floor as I headed inside, wondering who this sweet baby angel is that looks frighteningly like the spawn of Satan that was present this morning. I was wondering if he was trying to replace me as an au pair and/or if he had aged 40 years and gone to some kind of butler-training school while I was gone. I realized he completely forgot about anything that happened this morning and there was no use in me continuing to be upset about it. I just let it go and let him lead me into the dining room so I could tuck into whatever awaited me at the table. Kids are funny in that way; it seems that nothing phases them and they are able to forgive and forget so easily. I think I will tuck this lesson away for future use.