My school is technically two large buildings, one housing the grade 1s, and the main building for grades 2-6. As such, the grade 1s generally never see me unless they traipse through the core school facility. Thus, when a new school year begins, a whole new flock of grade 2s begins regularly entering the premises and, in tandem, seeing a white person regularly for the first time. For many of them, this is a big deal.
No, really. I am like a unicorn, Bigfoot, glittering romance vampires, and awesome dinosaurs rolled into one, based on the awe I generate in these tiny grade 2 faces.
Many take to following me, or darting away to alert their friends, or spiriting behind corners to peek out at me, as though I am an illusion and if they stare too hard, I will disappear. Like I am smoke, or Tinkerbell.
I went to the teacher’s bathroom one day, and before the urinal, juuuust as the zipper came down, a grade 2 boy threw open the door and burst inside. He was so excited by my existence he threw all caution and knowledge of teacher-student boundaries to the wind. Arms aloft like a miniscule Asian Rocky Balboa, he cheered to the heavens, “HEEEEEELLO, TEACHER!”
I rezipped, and forced him from the bathroom. In the hall, I began castigating him viciously in English, causing only agape wonder to spread across his features. When I tried the same in Korean, it only served to dazzle him more. I think maybe he was actually in a sort of vision trance, and I may as well have been speaking in tongues. His homeroom teacher soon passed by, and through some mime and poor Korean, I gave her the downlow. She did not like this. If a student had followed her into the bathroom while she went to the bathroom, there would probably be a memorial service.
Two minutes later, when I exited the bathroom once more, the same boy was standing, hangdoggishly, scuffing his toe to the floor. “I. Very. Sorry. Teacher.” Down the hall, arms crossed and eyes narrowed, his teacher nodded to me solemnly.