Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A Ruddy Good Telling Off

Today I've been on the receiving end of several telling-offs (tellings-off? Correct me in the comments section).

I think it all started going wrong at breakfast time. I've been reading Jon Richardson's book
It's Not Me, it's You and I'm starting to agree with him that if you can fail at such a rudimentary task as starting the day then you may as well go back to bed. As it stands it was buckwheat or oat porridge for breakfast, so I'll take it that was a bad omen.

After washing up we began preparing for our first class with two 10-year-old girls. We planned to work in the first lesson and make friendship bracelets in the second bit. Once we were actually setting up for the lesson - after some confusion over which classroom we were in - Vicka walked in and showed off the... *drum roll* ... friendship bracelet she had begun making in the previous class. Oh dear. 
We decided to worry about that bit later because our lesson plan could take far longer than we'd anticipated, which it did, in fact we worked for the whole hour and a half without a real break. Even in the break time, Vicky and I were sitting for portraits(!).

Everything was going well, though taking about twice as long as anticipated... until partway through the shop role play the two girls started arguing over who would get the cute animal magazine, and who would be left with Top of the Pops. They weren't even supposed to open them, they were just for the game, but they argued and argued.   Then Vera, who is 16, walked in and told us off! She said they shouldn't be playing in their lesson, they should be studying. Well, up until a few moments before she walked in they had been behaving themselves, and the role play was there to teach them vocabulary and to use the vocab they had been focusing on in the previous lessons. I am mentally sticking my tongue out in Vera's direction. After the lesson finished we let them take a few bits home: the magazines, some beaded necklaces, some UK flags, and they were so grateful they gave us each a big hug. D'aww.

After lunch while playing with some kittens in the picnic shelter David Dean stopped for a chat with us which was pleasant, and offered his assistance if we need him to sort things out in the realm of relations with the adults, so that was nice. I didn't realise that by the end of the day that I'd suddenly be having such bad relations with the adults!

We spent 2 hours in the afternoon sorting out clothes and washing grubby shoes from the boutique - they are old hand-me-downs and donations as far as I can tell, as amazingly enough I found a Jaeger cashmere pullover in the mix. Sadly it looks stained, but what a diamond in the rough! Over the next few days we have to get all of the clothes washed, ironed and folded ready to be sorted out.

After that we cleaned the ground floor of the school - just as well Katya came to instruct us on the clothes else we would have cleaned the first floor! (Non-language students: on the continent there is no ground floor, that's the first floor, and all other floors and numbered accordingly). However while changing the mop water I got my second telling off. I was pouring the mop water down the sink, seeing as it's got bleach in I didn't want to go chucking it on the grass and killing all the grass and animals. Galya the cook then came in and started giving me an earful, saying I should throw it on the grass, and I told her I was worried about killing the animals. She seems to think Vicky and I are somewhat stupid because we don't understand her when she speaks really fast colloquial Russian, and seemingly can't be bothered to either slow down or try to explain in different words, so just treats Vicky and I like simpletons. We pretty much reply 'Yes' to whatever she says because we've no idea what she's saying. Nevertheless, I gave the sink a very good wash and the next lot of mop water got thrown on the unsuspecting grass.

At dinner time Katya invited told us to sit on the grown-up table, which was nice because a) it took the stress out of trying to choose where to sit, which I find a constant trial in any cafeteria situation and b) I found out who Olga is. She lives in a house outside the main circle of Orion - it's vast and had a lovely-looking green roof and balcony. She's a life development coach or something similar at the weekends, and Monday-Thursday works in Orion sorting the boutique, helping with Kindergarten and doing craft classes with the kids. So that explains the friendship bracelet mishap earlier. She has two adopted children of her own. As such, she has a unique position of constantly interacting with the community, also caring for orphaned children, but her and her family not actually being part of the community circle. Apparently she moves to Egypt for the winter: jammy!

After dinner came the THIRD and final (hopefully) telling off of the day. Katya came to our room holding Top of the Pops magazine, and I wondered what it could be about. Turns out it has pictures of a topless male popstar, and a female popstar making a face that suggests a rebellious devil-may-care attitude. Katya very kindly and sensitively explained that they don't want their kids seeing such images, and I could only be incredibly embarrassed; I had no idea what was in the magazine as it had been wrapped in a plastic cover to hold the free gifts on to it. Had I known I wouldn't have bought it: simple as. Though obviously these kids have some idea of western popstars as they know enough about Lady Gaga to suspect she is an alien.

Katya also talked about the Galya episode, explained that there is a third way which is to throw the waste water on the paving stones, which I am much more happy about. Then I managed to burst into tears while trying to explain about the whole "I barely understand a word Galya says but I wish she'd try to speak slow and clear Russian to us because I really like cooking and I don't just want to peel potatoes because she thinks I'm a simpleton incapable of anything else". I'm paraphrasing here. She said she'd have a word with Galya about these matters, so I feel much better, but I did need to consume two Minature Heroes to deal with it all.

As it stands Vicky is cheered me up by reading bits of Top of the Pops mag to me and going all fangirl over One Direction. Everything will look better in the morning.

Bye for now,
An Exasperated Lois x

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