Friday was my birthday and I'm 26 years old. It started as a pretty average Friday. We had mass at school and there was a special blessing for me and four students who also had birthdays. Then the children sang Happy Birthday to us, including a verse in Sosotho which loosely translated means "May you grow as old as an elephant." After school, Sarah and Kelly threw a surprise dinner for me. Earlier this week I asked if they would make me a birthday cake and they told me that I was not allowed to plan my own birthday. The day before they spent six hours out of the house, without telling me what they were doing, so I knew something was up. The Sisters and our friend Lebo came over for dinner. We had lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and chocolate eclair cake. After dinner the four of us met up with Ryan and Willy at Moments. We spent the night dancing and having a few drinks. It was a really nice birthday and my roommates were too good to me.
I am pretty sure that every teacher has that one class. The class that tries your patients and leaves you frazzled. For me that class is a fourth grade class. I am pretty luckily that of my twelve classes only one is a discipline problem. This class is one of my largest and there are three learners who cannot keep still, keep their hands to themselves, or stay quiet. Every time we meet it is a struggle to stay on task and get through the lesson.
On Tuesday two pigeons got trapped in the hall. We had finally closed the windows because of the cold and the pigeons were not able to get back up the hole in the ceiling. The birds kept flying into the windows and I was sure it was only a matter of time until they knocked themselves out on the glass, stupid pigeons. So most of my students would point at the birds and cower if they flew anywhere near us. But not my grade four class. The boys started chasing the pigeons and jumping up to swat them. I kept yelling at them to sit down but I should have saved my breath. Then I noticed that Tumelo had snuck away and was climbing up the mountain of desks and chairs piled up to the ceiling in the far corner of the room. The pigeons had taken refuge there but Tumelo was determined to catch them. I kept yelling for him to stop, all I needed was for the boy to knock over the tower of furniture and get buried underneath. The next thing I know here comes Tumelo with a bird in each hand. How he managed to catch them I will never know. I told him to take the birds outside and his friend released one outside. But Tumelo took off running before I could stop him. The children started laughing saying that he went to flush the bird down the toilet. I don't think it is even possible to flush a pigeon down the toilet but I didn't see what he did with the poor bird. On the one hand the birds were distracting and I was glad they were gone. On the other hand I was very upset that the children were not listening to me and we lost fifteen minutes of class time to catching birds.
We have an infestation at school: of pigeons AND rats. There is a hole in the ceilingt tile above the chalkboard and it is constantly raining down insulation, feathers, and bird droppings. Each morning I sweep up this nasty debris but I am fighting a losing battle. There is a nest above my desk and we often hear chirping and scraping coming from the ceiling. And in the far end of the hall where I teach there is a pile of extra desks and chairs where rats like to congregate. I try not too look too closely but the other day I couldn't help noticing a dead rat on the ground. I don't know if it was killed by the school cat or if it died of natural causes, regardless it was really nasty. I am tempted to bring a plastic snake and throw it up in the ceiling to see if I could scare them away but I could see that ending badly. If a snake (even a plastic one) fell from the ceiling it would probably freak out the entire class. For the time being I keep watching the floor and the ceiling for various pests.