On the last day of teaching the kids I gave them all free time. Before in class they asked me for free time and I always said no- but this particular day I said “it’s my last day of teaching you today, so-you-have-free-time”, slowly enough so they knew exactly what I was saying. The reaction I got was priceless and I got the same reaction three times because I had three separate classes. They cheered, they screamed, they hugged me. It was awesome- and the kids, who seemed to dislike me, because I made them work hard, now appeared to love me. Kids- they are so fickle.
In the first two classes they jumped around, played cards, played hide and seek- basically did whatever 9 and 10 years old do in their free time- and they did it very noisily. I didn’t care though, it was my last day. When it was time to say goodbye a few of them hugged me and said goodbye. I even got a bracelet from one of the girls. But that was nothing compared to my last class- grade 4/4- my favourite class.
When I announced free time, yet again their reaction was priceless but what followed is the reason why these little ones really were my favourites- these were the ones I guess I connected with the most.
They came to me throughout the lesson with various gifts- a phone holder, hand-made cards, bits of paper with “xoxoxo”, key-rings, pens, bits of pens (?), a purse and coins (because I told them it is good luck to put some money into the purse), they drew pictures of me on the board with “I love T. Gill,” they wrote all the students names- “Got, Tat, Kit, Kla, Kit, Kan, Patt, Non, Book, Pooh, Prince, Film, Thames, Pookao, Orm, Bai-Bua, Pai, Beam, Lookwhy, Cartoon, Am, Nu, Kaning, Chompoo, Namo, Nuna, Phing, Prim, Pern, Tonkhaow, Yam- 31 students-we will miss you, we love you.” I returned the sentiment by writing the same on the board.
One of my favourite boys, Film, saw some of the students give me gifts, so he proceeded to hand me the board wiper and say “ for you,” and then an empty packet of mints- “for you,” he giggled. “It’s empty,” I said laughing, much to his delight and he giggled some more.
I had a notebook that I use for learning Thai and during the class the students took it from me and each of them wrote a little farewell message. We took photos and I got lots of hugs and lots of “thank you teacher” and “good luck teacher” and “are you coming back teacher?” They were all so, so sweet. I had to fight the tears back, which was quite unexpected. It was quite hard to leave them as they continued to hug me and say their goodbyes. One girl, Pern- another of my favourites and who I think had taken me to be like a big sister to her- disappeared in the throng of kids- earlier I had noticed her wiping tears away. So I went to get her and gave her a big hug and a kiss and we walked hand in hand to the stairs for a final goodbye.
For someone who is not maternal I couldn’t help but fall for these kids. There were just so sweet and made me laugh every day. I am so happy that I got to share their lives, albeit for a few months, and I hope I helped them along their way even if just a little bit.
When I got home I unpacked all the gifts and opened the phone holder only to find the empty packet of mints from Film. That made me laugh so much. I certainly won’t be forgetting them anytime soon.