(The Class of Birds)
Uh C’mon C’mon
Uh C’mon C’mon
Imagine the above little war chant being shouted by tiny little 2 year old children. The Oiseaux were (are) an amazing bunch of children. None of the volunteer interns that worked with these kids complained about anything. In fact, we noticed that every free time we had, we’d go there just to behold the cuteness of these amazing children. I was a little skeptical about working with them, because although they aren’t the youngest in the school, they are so small. But, working with them made me understand that sometimes, the best people are not necessarily the oldest. Or biggest. They are soooooo organized; obedient and happy. They were the children with the highest collective rapid assimilation of every English song taught.
Well, I would write on some kids in les Oiseaux
Oh Yanice! I specifically had to ask for your name you troublesome boy. You’re the class’s cutest boy. Well, there’s even no way one wouldn’t notice with you being everywhere but ‘sur la tapid’. Even when you’re on the ‘tapid’, everyone around you gets infected with your hyperactive nature. Funny enough, you’re quite quiet, but you are always the beginning of a long chain of ‘Heyyyyyyy… qui pleure????’ But you have such a kind spirit. I know it. Most of your troublesome-ness simply stems out of your desire to play with the other kids. I wish you’d only be less troublesome.
From you, I learnt to always say sorry (even if I say it 70 x 7 times)
Mama Bintu with the look of terror but with the kindest heart. I remember looking at you the first time and thinking ‘Ah… this would be one brutal child. But watching you during my time in your class made me understand never to judge people by the way they look.
From you, I learnt… not to judge a book by its cover… even when that cover looks pretty mean.
Ethan… Vital’s brother. They told me you just started school. I believed. I believe. With the way you scream and wail and say, ‘Je veux partir a mama’ (I want to leave to my mama). You should pay attention in class though (at least when you’re not crying). And try your hand at the class activities.
From you, I’ve learnt that a loving family is one of the greatest things one can have.
I was honored with your presence for only two days. After which you had a bye bye party where they explained to all the children that ‘Pierre-Emmanuel has to leave with his dad and mom to another place. And that place is far from Cocody. So Pierre-Emmanuel would no longer be joining us here in this school. He’ll make new friends at the other school but you all would still be his friends. In fact, Pierre-Emmanuel is so generous and kind that he has decided to throw a party for all of us his classmates and friends; telling us goodbye and that he’ll miss us’. I remember sitting at the back of the class and just staring at you. Something about the way you seemed so clueless and confused made me want to cry (or maybe it was just the whole ‘goodbye’ talk). You’re a very obedient student and you learn really fast. I hope you find true friends where you’ve gone. I hope you find an even greater joy than you enjoyed with your ex-classmates. And I really hope you learn well.
From you, I learned that sometimes you can decide to throw a break-up party. I mean, what the hell, right?
Like every time I forget your name in class, I just think; ‘Intelligent… bright… light… illumination…bingo! Lumina!’ You are soooo smart. Sooo intelligent. You’re like the littler version of Anne-Sarah in Papillons. You ask questions. You shout answers. You construct the right phrases. You are smarter than your peers. However, I hope you don’t grow to be more stubborn than is healthy.
From you, I learnt that a name is as important as what it sounds like.
I remember Yasmin asking me; ‘Have you noticed anything about Balakiss’. And I said; ‘yeah… she’s so sad’. But you’re not sad… no. Looking back now, I think you just felt left out. I remember one of the other Maitresses pointing at you and telling me(rather passionately), ‘You think she’s quiet? I saw her with her family. Elle bavard eh!!’ So you talk with your family. But in school… You’d color slow. You’d never talk in class. I don’t think I ever heard your voice. You’d never play with anyone in class. You don’t get into trouble. Yet you don’t get into anyone’s good books. But let me tell you Balakiss, weird is the 22nd century cool. Weird is the future. You’re the future. And rather than keeping all of that awesomeness inside, you might want to share it with the rest of us and show us the future. I don’t even know if I’m making sense… but come out of your shell soon enough.
From you I’ve learnt that ‘not every time respond when your name is being called. Sometimes, ignore and keep meditating’
Elishama with the long hair and tiny body. If not for Elsa, you’d be the tiniest in that class. You’re so beautiful. I remember the day I had to wait with you for your parents to come pick you up while the other ate at the back. You had a full discussion with me about your last birthday. I totally know everything they served and all the gifts you got (or at least I know what they are called in French). And hey… you laughed at my lame jokes. Like, you really laughed as if I was tickling you. And you told me ‘goodbye’ when your mom came to pick you (not many children remember to do that once they see their parents). You’re genuinely kind and I hope you keep that up.
From you, I learned that the past is not necessarily always a dark place never to be visited. Sometimes, it contains happy memories… like the food served at one’s birthday.
You reminded me of my cousin so much that I took a special interest in you. I really hope you don’t get too eager to make friends that you end up following the wrong crowd. Because you’re quite a good boy.
From you, I learned to always say the truth… and say sorry.
Elsa with the sexy mother. When I first saw you, I expected you to be quiet… because you’re so small in stature. But you aren’t quiet. You have a lot to say and you’re not afraid to say them out loud. Please don’t be one of those tiny people that become incredible bullies (because I know I had my share of hearing a wailing child say ‘c’est Elsa’ every time I asked them who hurt them).
From you, I learned to eat incredibly slowly (and in tiny quantities) if I want to be incredibly tiny.
Gloria with the amazing afro. Don’t be a bully Gloria. You’re so so beautiful. :’)
I knew you before I got into your class. I was still with the Papillons when one day; during the general break time, you walked to where I was seated and just stood between my legs, rested your back on me and watched the whole playground with me. No words. No request. No nothing. We just watched together. It was amazing. And queer… because tiny little children usually seem un-favourably disposed towards me. But you weren’t. I thought it was just a one-time thing. But after that day, not a single day passed that you did not come to meet me and chill with me. I remember one day, you did not show up all throughout the break period. I was slightly worried. And then break ended. As I started to walk back to my class, I heard little feet running towards me and before I could even turn around you were by my side holding my hand with you tiny little fingers. You made me quite happy. And when I finally got to work with you in class, I realized that you’re truly the angel that you represented to be. I’d really love it if you tried (more) to grasp what is being taught in class. You’re small… but not too small.
From you, I learnt that yes, you can actually just look at a random stranger and decide to love them… that love is in fact, a decision.
This class was… amazing. When I left, I used to go back during lunch time to help the other teachers serve the food, laugh at the slow eaters and feed them. It was simply amazing.