Why do I find myself reading the Awake article entitled ‘How to Deal with Tantrums’ I ask myself? Well, as you may be aware of if you are a reader of this blog I have been teaching English here in Spain with an Academy since January of this year. The type of people that I teach ranges greatly. Some days I have teenagers who would rather be hanging out with their friends being cool. But there generally not too bad. I also have adults and university students who are studying in order to pass certain exams for work or for university requirements. Its interesting because here in Spain it is common to have the university ask the students to complete certain English certificates before they graduate otherwise they will not get the degree in the major that they are studying. Needless to say this can create a lot of pressure for these students who have to study multiple subjects at once. They are, however, motivated and want to be in class which makes my job easier. At the complete other end of the spectrum my academy has contracts with some public schools and we go and teach English to their students. These students can vary from three years old to seven or so. Some enjoy learning English and like to learn in general. However if you read my past blog post entitled “Can three year olds even talk?”, don’t be so quickly fooled. There are some very adorable kids that I have the pleasure of teaching. They ask questions and participate with enthusiasm during class activities. They enrich the class and make coming to work enjoyable. But among all these sweet little innocent kids lurks a monster…
Yes, a blonde haired pint-sized demon child monster! When I first came to Spain I quickly learned that the children here are not like the ones in the United States. Here they are much more spirited and fiery in general. They have very strong characters and can be very opinionated about things. I think all of these traits are amplified here in the Basque Country. As I spent more and more time with my young students I found ways to adapt to this change in culture and things sorted themselves out. Except for the problem child. Now I know that he is only a child and he is still learning how to control his behavior, et cetera, et cetera but the difference with him is that he is bad and he knows it. I have some kids that can be unruly but they will eventually listen to you and calm down. Not him. He is defiant and he loves to cause problems with the other kids. It has been increasingly difficult to teach the class appropriately with him acting up. What makes it more of a challenge is that I am not fluent in Spanish or Basque so I can’t communicate that effectively in order to tell him what I want. While I do have a pretty good arsenal of Spanish vocabulary when it comes to telling kids to behave I still could use some help. I don’t know if this kid is having problems at home or what but during class he has an incredibly aggressive, violent disposition towards everyone. Oh yeah and he’s only six. Well after repeatedly telling my director about the child, I’ve been trying different things in order to maintain order in the class. Some of them have been to try to include more Spanish and also time for the kids to play towards the end of the class. These suggestions have helped but he still seems to find a way to act up in the end.
Well after an especially terrible week with this kid it seemed like things were coming to a head. I learned that he would soon be dropping the class because he wasn’t enjoying it. Well, this was no surprise to me. I was extremely relieved to hear this news because this would allow me to get back to focusing on the rest of the students. As of yesterday, this child will no longer be in my class! I think I may have skipped all the way home! Just when I thought I couldn’t deal with him anymore, voila now he is out of my class forever!
What lessons have I learned from all of this. 1. Spanish children are crazy. 2. Challenges may come from unexpected places when serving where the need is great. We have really been enjoying our congregation, the ministry, Bilbao, and just life here in general. Even though we have met various obstacles and difficulties we have been able to overcome them with Jehovah’s help. But sometimes we may be surprised to find that challenging or difficult situations can come from places where we least expect them. If five months ago you would have told me that I would have to deal with some really disobedient, badly behaved Spanish children and that this would be a challenge I probably wouldn’t have believed it. But that is the reality today. Like another need greater currently serving in Nicaragua wrote on her blog sometime back we all have challenges where ever we are serving. Whether we are fighting traffic to get to the meeting or whether we are crossing jungles or rivers to go out in service we all have something that we have to deal with. For me up until recently, my challenge has been a little blonde haired six year old Spanish kid.