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A Preschool Teacher’s Tale

Theng-Ning ran over to me with vomit dribbling down his chin.

It was nearing the end of my hour-long class and the rest of the students were still quietly coloring away on their worksheets.

Poor little guy; it’s hard to keep track of your bodily needs when you’re three years old. I wasn’t surprised by the vomit that was now dripping down his desk and onto the floor (I see a looooot of bodily fluids in preschool), but I also wasn’t sure how to deal with the mess so I peeked my head out into the hallway in search of this particular class’s Thai teacher.

The cuties hard at work, impervious to the unfolding bodily-fluid-related drama.
The cuties hard at work, impervious to the unfolding bodily-fluid-related drama.

She was on her way back from running an errand. I gestured, “Uh…student vomit.” She nodded perfunctorily and began dealing with the scene of the crime using old newspapers (paper towels are hard to come by in these parts).

She said something to Theng-Ning that I had to assume was, “Go to the bathroom, take off your clothes and wash yourself,” at which point his once almost-chipper demeanor turned into pure unadulterated temper tantrum.

His big brown eyes welled up as he screamed with panic, “MAI AOW!!!!!! MAI AOW!!!!!” His jedi-style singular skinny braid, an animated circle of hair on his otherwise clean-shaven head, swung with his cries.

vomit vomit everywhere and and not a drop to drink
and not a drop to drink

I knew “mai aow” meant “I don’t want to” but I wasn’t sure what it was that he didn’t want to do. You don’t want to wash the vomit off of your face? Tantrums tend to be pretty irrational so maybe this was it.

His cries escalated as the Thai teacher tried to grab him and send him into the bathroom. Theng-Ning stood in front of me, tears and vomit all over his face, pleading with every ounce of his being: “MAI AOW TEACHA, MAI AOW!!!!” I said, “I don’t know what it is that you don’t want! I’m sorry I can’t help you…” with crinkled, sympathetic eyebrows.

He was so far gone his little hands were paralyzed with panic and all he could do was stand shrieking and glancing over his shoulder to see if the Thai teacher was coming for him.

Preschool drawing
A three-year-old’s account of the incident, as told on the back of her worksheet.

Sure enough, she was still trying to nab him and drag him into the bathroom herself, but he took off running around the room instead. The chase became even more dramatic after she enlisted two other students to help her catch him. They were unsuccessful in their efforts.

The remaining students watched from their desks and began chanting Theng-Ning’s name in unison. At first I thought they were cheering for his escape from the Thai teacher’s grasp, but I soon realized she had instructed them to cheer for their classmate as an added social pressure to take himself to goddamned bathroom and rinse off.

It was the end of the period but I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I finally took a deep breath to avoid breaking out into a fit of giggles; I gathered the students’ half-colored worksheets, and took myself back to the teacher office to report the absurd incident to my coworkers.


  1. First off I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I’ve had a difficult
    time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?

    • mishvo says:

      Hi! Thank you for the comment and question, I really do love to hear from my readers!
      So I think my answer to your question might be a little longer than one would expect…The process of writing a blog post for me depends on the content I’m planning to write about. I usually develop ideas/plans of what I’m going to write about in my head, as I’m composing emails to friends telling them about my life or as I’m writing in my journal. My journal provides a lot of inspiration for me, actually, simply because it happens to be a place in which I can write freely without the pressure of “other eyes” looming overhead.
      Once I have an idea I might make a draft with just a tentative title and save it for later. Then, when I’m feeling like writing, I go back through my drafts and work on them. Other times, the need to write is more pressing – maybe I’m feeling frustrated or angry or disappointed or maybe I’m seeking advice from the Internet world – and in those cases I tend to plop myself down in front of a computer and just get it all out.
      So once I have a general idea of the content and structure of a post, I like to do some reading before I begin to write. I guess this addresses the “clearing my mind” part of your question. I’ll usually read stuff on the Internet, like other peoples’ travel blogs for example, and it gets my mind in the writing zone. In fact, I highly recommend just clicking around on other blogs before you try to write. If you like to go running I suggest that as well; some music and fresh air is always good for my brain. Most importantly, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to produce content! If you’re not feeling it at the moment, there’s no rush, you can just do it later, or not at all! That’s the great thing about having your own blog: you make the rules.
      Hope that helps!


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