Tag Archives: kids

Dark Children’s Flicks – Kamsahamnida

Thank you (in Korean) for these four amazing kids movies that helped shaped who I am to a surprising degree . . .

The Dark Crystal

The vulture-like Skenksies vs. the OM-chanting Mystics (“numbly rehearsing the ancient ways in a blur of forgetfulness. . .”) – classic evil vs. good.  Watching this movie as an adult, the symbology makes so much more sense, especially in the context of my yoga training (check out the chakra-esque ritual circle in the main blog picture).  The struggle of the working class zombies, under the spell of the glittery crystal, reminiscent of the post-industrial social warfare we’re engaged in now.  Jim Henson was one genius dude …


So many good things going on in this classic!  First of all, David Bowie as a queen of the Labrynth ball:

Oh the balls!

The hilarious nastiness of the Bog of Eternal Stench . . . the creativity of the talking hand-faces . . . Ludo’s big friendly giantness . . .

And this odd little connection I’ve noticed . . .

neverendingstoryThe Never Ending Story

I said it when I was five years old, and I’ll say it again: classic case of “false advertising!”  Other than that little oversight, however, a pretty flawless film.  “Bastian, say my name!”  At around age 10 or so, I became a total library rat and unearthed a copy of the book on which this film is based.  The narrative that takes place in the “real world” is printed in black ink, the narrative in the fantasy land is printed in red ink.  I always thought that was so novel, and haven’t really encountered the same technique since.  Whew, how many times have I wished I’d find a glimmering speck of sand from another land and make all the wishes in the world!  Guess that’s what the lotto is for . . .

Don't let the sadness get ya down ...
Don’t let the sadness get ya down …

The Secret of Nimh

The film is playing in a window next to WordPress as I write this . . . it’s funny what details from a film stay with you.  In this case, Mrs. Brisbee’s funny little voice and her wee mouse mouth.  The name, Nicodemus, as well – a name I proudly bestowed on my hamster in Tucson (Nicodemus Babaganouj, I miss you!).  And could it be?  Yup, that is Dom Deloise as the funny crow.


So happy to have been raised on films like these and bedtime stories from Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm…


Classroom Window

Go on, take a peek!

Ever wonder what a kindergarten classroom in the Western Region of the UAE looks like?  Well, if you have, you’re a part of a very niche group of people, I can assure you!

It’s always fun to have a window into the lives of people we know and love, or just some random stranger who happens to be doing something you’re interested in.

So, without further adieu, my KG1B children introducing themselves . . .

The kids are generally about four years old and they’ve gone from wetting their pants and crying for mommy, to answering simple questions in English, and testing twice a semester.  It’s not an easy curriculum for the wee ones – integrating all the English and Math vocabulary with hands-on activities has been a challenge, especially in the face of a rather ambitious pacing chart.  But we’re having fun and learning together.  Every day gets a little easier.

And a little more interesting . . .

The kindergarten classroom is setting the stage for these kids’ futures.  And some of the scenes are rather entertaining!

Take, for example, the little rascals who happen to be a bit bossy, always standing up, not necessarily paying attention to the lesson, they’re smart when they try, but usually they’re trying to tell some other kid what to do.

As teachers, we put these kids into leadership positions for two reasons: 1. It keeps them from getting into trouble.  Much better they’re passing out pencils than smacking their neighbors upside the head!  2. Ever heard the phrase, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?”  Definitely applicable here!

What’s funny, is these kids are likely going to run countries or big companies when they grow out of the drooling stage.  They’re power hungry, they get into things, they need to be in charge.  So what do we do?  We vote for them!

Then there’s the Nerd Alert of the classroom.  Don’t get me wrong, I love these girls – and yes, they are just about always girls – I may actually have been one of them at some point in my academic career.  They know all the answers, do more than they’re asked to, and even finish early.  But what do we give them in return, besides a “good job!” and a sticker?  Extra work!  I say with nothing but hope, that this kind of student will eventually find their way back into academia where they can continue to … do more work!

I’ve already mentioned the uncanny parallels between some of KG kids and boys I’ve dated in the past.  There’s the masochistic charmer and the starry-eyed dreamer to name a few . . .

And then we have the Shadow Teachers, that rare breed of super bebe that embodies all we’re looking for in a student: smart, sociable, confident, respectful, creative.  This kid’s got it goin’ on.  What’ll they grow up to be?  Anything they want!

We’ve lost a few kids on the roster these last few weeks because the UAE asks foreign residents to pay for their kids to come to public schools.  Some parents simply can’t afford it, especially if they’re supporting their other children through school, not to mention the fact that Kindergarten isn’t compulsory.  An interesting topic for debate there, perhaps at a later date when I’m not actually living under Big Brother’s watch.  😉

So goes another week in the desert.  I’m still writing lotsa yoga-related articles, and just got one accepted by Elephant Journal for online publication (yay!).  More on that to come . . .

Til next time x

UAE National Daze!

Children twirl and wiggle in unison, dressed in colorful traditional gowns and headwear.  Mothers, decked out in bedazzled abayas, watch on with pride, taking pictures, videos and sharing smiles with their town neighbors.  Teachers run around, attempting without much success, to organize an auditorium full of kindergarteners.   Administrators talk with parents, pinch the cheeks of brothers and sisters.  Women from Sri Lanka and Kerala serve bland cookies and boxes of juice.

If there’s a schedule, I have no idea if we’re following it!  It’s been a day full of last minute details, dressing up the performers, and running about aimlessly – chaos!  Pure and utter chaos.

Happy UAE National Day, everybody!  The country is now officially 39 years old.  And you thought America was a young country!

Yet, unlike the adolescent  – sometimes infantile – USA, the politically-young UAE has a long cultural history.  Camel racing, herbal medicines, international trade connections, shisha custom, tea ceremony, the desert ethos, dance,  pearling, fishing, the list goes on and on.  Though you won’t find the same kind of collections of historical artifacts that you might in Italy or Japan, the nomadic natives have much to commemorate today.

For our humble celebrations at Al Areej Kindergarten, the kids showcased some of the UAE’s most treasured traditions.

A fashion show


A parade of culture

Cutie pies!

The other day, I caught myself in the middle of an internal trip out – “I’m teaching kindergarten in the Middle East. What am I doing here?”  Well, saving money in the hopes my mother will start talking to me again, actually.  But really, for the first time, I was completely enraptured by how HERE I am right now.

There are some funny things about this place sometimes.

The firey temperament of my colleagues.  The hotel village community (more on that later).  The Arabic men.  The unexpected Irish and French contingencies.  The nannies who’ve come from countries far and wide.

Best thing about being a woman?  You get the front seats on the bus – no matter how many men are lined up, period!

Learning words like schwei schwei – which could mean slowly, nicely, or little by little. ‘Hodrawhat,’ meaning vegetables – and my personal favorite, ‘melfuff!’  Lettuce.  And the ever-so unforgettable ‘How much is that?’ in Arabic – ‘cum hardar.’  Say what now?

It’s a mad little world I live in.  Where a surprise flat tire turns into an impromptu photoshoot in the desert.

And sunsets send tingles down spines.


Week 3 – Games, crying and settling in

It wasn’t an easy week at work!  My preschoolers cried their little eyes out, some of them separated from their mamas for the first time ever.  I won’t be working w/ the more experienced Kindergarten class anymore, due to a schedule change – but have no complaints since, technically, I did volunteer to take the wee ones w/ my colleague Monique.  I knew it’d be more challenging, in terms of classroom management and meeting our pacing chart requirements, but I figured the cuteness would make up for their animal-like behavior!  They are adorable, of course … and considering my lack of experience with preschool classes upwards of 24 students … I have been keeping an open mind.  Then again …

Last week, during snack time, I literally had to stop a young girl from squatting down and peeing right there in the corner!  Earlier in the week, a few boys who I tried to calm down with a soothing voice and a pat on the back actually threatened me w/ raised fists – another made motions like a gun with his hand.  Don’t make me get all jihadist on your ass, little man, that’s no way to gesticulate toward your teacher! ;o)  Hehe, they’ll learn.  (note: the first meeting I had with my Arabic-speaking colleagues at the school, they all thought it would be hilarious to welcome us with the jihadist war cry.  LOVED THAT.  I can work with a sense of humour!)

Yeah, school’s been fun so far – we mostly played games last week – but next week’ll be an entirely different story.  Our weekly goals could be a challenge, but if the Arabic-speaking teachers in the classroom help with translation and behavior, I think we can make it work.  It’s not an easy situation for them – some have been teaching KG for upwards of 15 years.  Having all us young Americans roll in with binders, clipboards and lists of objectives has got to be a bit of a shock.  But most are warming to us, little by little.

Back on the home-front, life is pretty sweet.  After a long day w/ bugers and tears, and an hour-long commute that follows, a moment on the beach is just what the doctor ordered.  I go for a walk along the soft white shores and everything else melts away.  Pranayam (breathing exercises) in the steam room’s a nice trick as well.  It still completely boggles my  mind that just 60 of us get to live in these amazing surroundings, and so many others are off stranded in apartments in the middle of nowhere!  Granted, I’ve heard their accommodation is pretty sweet, but we have all these amenities – and our buffet alone is supposed to cost $50 a pop!

The dessert buffet at our humble little five star <cue waistline crying!>

Other than getting adjusted to work, this was a pretty low key week.  I interviewed a friend of mine out here for an article on courage.  That should be posted in a week or so.  I also managed to catch a killer flu from a coworker who came in with a fever, fully sweating balls.  Cheers, Ms. Wissem!  ;o)  I certainly hope that explains why I had another nightmare last night – this time I find two babies on a bench and try – with very little direction – to take them on a subway ride back to London.  Disturbing.

Off to recover before the new week starts.  It’s a 5am start to the day out here – wish a sister luck!