I like little kids. I always find a way to play with whichever little critters I find at church. When I first got to Korea when my mother called and warned me not to be too nice to the babies that I see. Apparently, the Korean news back home had reported issues with child molestations in Seoul. My mother knowing her son’s tendency to play peekaboo with a stranger’s kid a little bit too long was worried she might find her idiotic son handcuffed and thrown into the bowels of the Korean prison system. Trust me I am not weird!
If you notice the picture above, this is a picture of My Chew: a taffy-like candy that is most definitely a complete rip-off of the Japanese candy “Hi-Chew”. They come in an assortment of flavors (strawberry, apple, grape, orange, yogurt-uh), kinda like Starburst except a million times better. My Chew are perfect since 8 of them come in a package and are incredibly cheap.You see, I am that stranger that gives candy to little children. Your mother was probably telling you to avoid people like me.
(I gave these kids each a whole My Chew package because I was leaving the country. Apparently the My Chew was enough to assuage any concerns about their favorite teacher leaving.)
At church, I was known as the My Chew Teacher, no real name of course. Just a dispenser of candy. Not that I really cared, I was definitely very popular with the children even though I spoke only a little Korean. One girl tugged at my shirt and said, “I don’t believe you are from America.” When I responded in Korean to explain myself, she replied, “Never mind, you must be from America.”
For all of you still unconvinced that I am just another Michael Jackson creeping in the shadows, candy really does come in hand. For instance, on the airplane back from Seoul to NYC, a pair of siblings were fighting and creating a bit of commotion on the plane. Bam! In my backpack a My Chew. I tell the kids I’ll give em one each if they stop fighting and stay quiet. The kids, of course, jump on this deal and everyone on the plane is relieved they can sleep.
For some reason, perhaps a genetic inclination, I just find little kids adorable and fun. Some people seem to find this an admirable quality about me, liking little ones and all. I can assure you its most definitely not. I always tell people I like kids, but parents know I am big BSer. “Oh you like kids, really?”….How many diapers have I changed? None. How many big tantrums have I endured? Not too many. Whats my answer to solving everything? A piece of candy. While I can certainly manage kids in the short-term, this candy strategy is not conducive to raising socially acceptable human beings.
(Two My Chews!! Look at his impish grin)
It’s not like I think kids are darling little angels either. No, actually far from it. Kids can be the epitome of self-absorbed. For instance, when some of the kids went out to the park, a few started to ride the swing set with the older folks pushing them. A jolly little time. I was pushing this 5-year old girl and she was excited to be flying high on her swing. Out of nowhere, this little blue thing runs into the middle of the swing set. Realizing a split-second later this blue thing was a 3-year old kid, I can only watch as I see him run right under the swing I just pushed.Right as he goes by, the girl I had just pushed is swinging back with her legs tucked under the swing. Her legs resoundingly catch this boy under the chin and…….
“Thwack!!”, the kid’s head snaps back and he goes sailing 10-15 feet like a comically oversized football. He lands with soft thud and starts wailing a few seconds later. I am mortified, this kid might have permanent brain damage or something. Uh oh, here comes Korean grandmother screaming at me and anyone else around me for not seeing her kid run full speed in the middle of a swing set. What do I do?
“No speak English“. Shoot, wrong country. I can’t pull that here…
“재송합니다” (I apologize in Korean) Nope, not enough, she’s still angry at me for not watching her kid.
Meanwhile, the girl I was pushing on the swing is nonplussed and perturbed. At the sound of the wailing kid and a screaming grandmother? Of course not.
“Why aren’t you pushing me?”, she asks, completely unaware she punted the kid like a soccer ball. “I am not going up as high as I want to.” Incredible.
Its funny, because as I left the country last week, friends from both church and school gave me a ridiculous amount of My Chews to take with me as a present.
Don’t worry, the little boy turned out to be all right. In fact, afterward he smiled and waved goodbye to us as he left the playground. In his mouth? But of course, a My Chew.
(Candy can win the affections of any girl’s heart)