I'm starting to seriously wonder about the sanity of anyone who choses to become a parent. I mean, I totally see how traveling the accidental pregnancy railroad ends in parenthood. I understand how incredibly tempting it is to climb aboard that train (or its conductor) with little thought to how you'll get off, or maybe too much thought on how you'll get off, and too little thought on what happens post trip. But planned, purposeful parenthood? I just don't get it.
This train of thought (pun intended) hit me while I was acting out the story, "Going On a Bear Hunt," for an audience of fifty or so Korean children last Wednesday. Along with, "Wizard's Den" our Disney trivia game show, and line dancing where hordes of eager Koreans line up to learn the Macarena and the Chicken Dance, Storytelling is an activity we edutainers at English Village get to lead four times a day in the hopes that learning exactly what happens when you give a mouse a cookie and what a very hungry caterpillar downs during his pre-cocoon binge will ignite in our audiences the same passion for the English language that they have for food on a stick and matching couples' t-shirts.
Anyway, in, "Going On a Bear Hunt," the reader (dressed up like either a Golden Girl or Mother Goose depending on personal preference) and sitting in a rocking chair reads the story to the audience taking them on a literary journey through tall grass, a cold river, oozing mud, a dark forest, a snowstorm, and the inevitable damp cave in search of a bear while the assistant runs their ass off around the room putting on the appropriate accessory or piece of clothing for each leg of the "journey," while performing the complex pantomime required to conquer each obstacle. It should probably be noted that, "Going On a Bear Hunt," may, in all likely hood, be the worst children's story ever written. What kind of parent packs up their children and decides to go looking for a bear? The sequel should be called, "Foster Care."
So we've reached the middle of the story and I'm ready to "squelch," and, "squerch," my way through the oozing mud while wearing a clown-shoe sized pair of blue plastic rain boots. By passing the front of the group I decide to make my way between the two rows of kids, you know, really get the audience involved. I start walking forward, careful not to step on any toes with my enormous shoes. The kids go crazy and I'm really getting into it: arms flailing, face grimacing, straining every muscle in my body to pull my feet through the mud. That's when this fat kid who's next in the row whispers to the little boy next to him and then sticks his foot out into my path with a huge smirk on his chubby face. I notice the smirk, but it's too late for me to lift my giant-blue-plastic-clown-sized- rain-boot-covered foot and down I go, a perfect face plant onto the library floor. Thanks to my cat like reflexes and super human spacial sense I'm able to avoid flattening the last three children in the front row and bounce back to turn and give fatty a death stare.
I regain my composure, stand up, and wait for the inevitable screams that will most surely erupt when fatty's mother grabs him forcefully by the arm and drags him from the room telling him what a disgrace he is to his family in angry Hangul. It doesn't happen. In a moment of panic I turn and look to the back wall where the adults are seated, scanning the bespectacled, dark haired faces for the woman responsible for giving birth to Satan's child. And then I see her...pointing at me...and laughing.
In a perfect world I march over to her and tell her exactly what I think of her fat, ugly, manner-less excuse for a child. I tell her that children are a product of their environment and that if she paid half an much attention to what went into her child's mouth as she does to whether her footwear matches her earrings maybe he'd have a chance at escaping early onset type 2 diabetes. I tell her that there is such a thing as respect, and since it clearly isn't listed in the Korean dictionary, maybe she should learn enough English to read about it in Webster's. Then I tell her that 1982 called and it wants her hair scrunchie back.
Of course I don't do any of those things. My partner keeps reading the story, I keep acting it out in front of the group, neglecting further entry into the ranks of evil. And when it comes time to hand out the bear pictures and crayons I give fatty the girly teddy bear to color, and a sorry ass nub of a pink crayon.