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2005-04-28 3:28 p.m.

my children of the wind

I realized that I never really said anything here about the Southeast Asia trip, back in January. But someone once said that there are things about which one ought to write a great deal or nothing at all. That trip is one of those things.

Tell you what, though, if you want to read the great deal about Southeast Asia (versus the nothing at all youíll get here) and havenít yet had the opportunity, drop me a line, and Iíll send you the novella-length play by play.

In other travel-related news, my hitchhiking odyssey starts tomorrow. Maybe Iíll tell you about that when I get back.

There are two children at the preschool who I am particularly close to. One little girl and one little boy, both two years old, both turning three in the next several months. When I first got here nine months ago both of them could barely speak at all. Now of course, they wonít shut up. Itís been fascinating to watch them progress through the astounding language development that happens at that age. It seems Iíve even managed to slip a little English in there; every once in a while one of them will totally surprise me by counting to ten in English or spouting off the English names of animals and food weíve been studying. Weird and wonderful.

All of my kids seem so much older now than they were a month ago, when they were all one grade lower than they are now. Itís still undecided whether Iíll be able to teach the first graders, but Iím starting to lose hope. Theyíre always so excited to see meÖ Itís sad, though. I can maybe spend a few minutes with them every Wednesday, which is nice, but I used to spend three hours with them every Thursday morning. Maybe I shouldnít let myself get so attached.

Yesterday at the elementary school one of the second grade girls decided I was her property for the length of recess. She made sure I knew we had a play date at that time, and she came up to the fourth grade class where I was eating lunch to get me. She didnít want to play with anyone else, and she didnít want ME to play with anyone else. Anytime other kids, especially older kids, would act like they wanted to play with me she would either start leading me away or move and stand right in front of me, reaching her hands back to grab on to me, as if protecting me from invaders. It was cute, but a little weird. Sheís a real sweetheart, though.

Another second grade girl has become my most regular student at the adult conversation class. She likes English and was learning it from another woman on the island who speaks fairly well and teaches it to children semi-professionally. Her mother plays volleyball Wednesday nights when I have the class, so she decided to take advantage of the free babysitting and drop her daughter off at my class every week. I didnít mind so much, since sheís a sweet and very well-behaved girl, but now I found out that her mother has stopped sending her to her other English lessons because she figures the kid will learn better from me, a native speaker. So now I feel like responsibility for this kidís English development is on me. And one of the other women is now talking about bringing HER kid to my adult conversation class. Ugh. I love teaching kids, but itís not really possible to teach English to elementary school students (who have virtually zero knowledge of English but do have an almost preternatural ability to learn it holistically) and adults (who likely have a long history of studying English academically but rarely have any ability to actually use it to communicate) at the same time.

In other news, MIT students are cool, and most scientistsí idea of what constitutes good writing is really aggravating.

I look back at this entry, and I wonder if it would be boring to read. Itís just me talking about my children, after all. And theyíre not even mine, reallyÖ

What am I going to do with my life? Iíve got this path laid out, but is that really the way I want to go? I suppose thereís only one way to find outÖ But the longer I wait to change my mind, the bigger mess it will make should I choose to do so.

the men don't know but the little girls understand,