Somehow two weeks have slid by without a fresh Coco post, days teaching weather and short vowel sounds, evenings researching and writing my first story for Eloquence Magazine (more on that later), and an attempt to incorporate sit-ups into my daily routine. This weekend S. Korea beat Greece 2-0 in their first game of the World Cup, a win I cheered for under a starless sky on Haeundae beach, the night lit by thousands of red plastic devil’s horns glowing from the heads of fans.
Now it’s after midnight 3 a.m. on a Sunday, and I was all geared up to write the final post of the Seoul collection, a story on my trip to the DMZ which divides North and South Korea, and the underground tunnel I trekked through there with Dianna and Bryan, built 73 metres deep by the North in the 70’s with the intention to invade Seoul, and a brief overview of the current political situation between the two nations, which involves a battleship, 46 men killed, a suspected torpedo, and threats of war.
But it’s a post that will have to wait– for more research, for a night when the morning is further away.
Instead, I want to introduce you to Bill.
Bill’s seven. He likes dinosaurs and gingerbread men. His favourite day is a day when he sees a rainbow. Most of his stories start with “A long time ago . . .” He can make a snowman and a snow angel, and likes to eat a hot dog on a snowy day.
Sometimes Bill forgets to do his homework, or he did it but he can’t find the right book to show me, or he lost his book and isn’t sure his mom knows where it is. I move around the classroom from child to child, checking their answers with a red pen and a sheet of stickers. “Teacher,” Bill will say, pointing to a half-finished sentence. “How can I do this?” Together we read the question, find the answer. He clutches my arm with his little hand, fishes his eraser out of his pencil case. When he leans over his notebook his hair falls forward, like a shiny bowl on his head.
At the end of each month, I have all eight students sit in a circle with their writing books. They each take a turn, reading one story they wrote– tales of robots and dragons, tornadoes and pelicans. They fidget in their chairs and drum the floor with their feet. They flip through their pages and mumble and hold their books up in front of their faces. “Books down,” I’ll say, “so we can see you. A little louder, so we can hear you.” After each story, I remind them to clap, to ask the author questions. And over and over, to listen.
giger bread man
A long time ago there were giger bread.
His name is gigerbread man.
He was very good. He help man and the women.
Now man make one more gigerbread man. Because he was good.
I want to eat gigerbread man.
Because gigerbread man is yummy. gigerbread man is cute.
He is very fast. He can win fox.
(April 2010 Writing Workshop, Yale Class)