Bribery may flop, but it won’t scar kids

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Bribery may flop, but it won’t scar kids

At the same time I got into college, I got my first teaching offer: a 6-year-old girl and boy. I was almost a kid myself, but the agent said some moms prefer younger teachers, thinking they interact with kids better.
On the fateful day, I calmed my nerves and rang the bell. The unpleasantly rowdy bark of a fat, flat-faced dog greeted me at the door. A woman with similar features led me to a room strewn with toys where two kids jumped around, ignorant of my presence.
“Hey, I’m your new teacher,” I said cheerfully, wanting to be known as a cool teacher.
I took careful note of the kids. The roly-poly boy looked like Pooh, the girl like Tinker Bell. “I’ll need to play some games and give out prizes to control these two,” I thought. It’d cost me, but it’d be worth it.
On the way out, the agent offered me extra pay if I promised to teach at least three months. Very soon it became clear what the offer was about: These kids were maniacs. The skinny girl called the fat boy “pig,” and the overly sensitive boy would try to hit her.
And they’d do anything to win a game, even cheat. When they lost, they’d wail at the top of their lungs. Then their moms would barge into the room and start yelling at them. One scolded me saying, “You shouldn’t be too nice to kids.”
My award plan of stickers and gifts didn’t work as well as I had hoped; I always gave out too many stickers in the end. Also, since the kids were used to getting everything they want the moment they open their mouths, it was hard to please them.
These once-lovely angels started to appear as spoiled little brats in my eyes. How could these supposedly naive kids outsmart me? I had a strong urge to fold the fat kid into a ball and throw him out the window, using the girl as a bat.
My wish was granted ― almost. One evening, dragging my feet to the hell house as usual, I was greeted by a mom again, but this time she was holding a rod bigger than a billiard cue. Handing it to me, she said, “If it gets out of control, just beat the kids up with this.” Stunned at her suggestion but still managing a smile, I told her I’d do fine without it.
Instead, I continued to spend wads of money on the kids, but it was never enough. Gradually, I lost all control over them and quit a few weeks later. Would you teach kids that climb all over you like a jungle gym?
That bitterly cold winter, I learned the hard way that a teacher should never give in to little kids’ innocent puppy eyes. But this teacher, for one, has never put that lesson into action. They still soften my heart, then empty my wallet.

by Soo-young Kim
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