Classroom Therapy

Now that I’m back in Beijing, and awaiting my first day at the new job, I have some free time to help out at the school that’s employed me since I first arrived in Beijing. My favorite student, let’s call her Ana, is the toughest 9-year-old I’ve ever met. She’s not what I expected from a young Chinese girl – she’s loud, silly, defiant and hilarious. Most importantly, she’s obsessed with spiders.

Some of you may not know this about me, but I am terrified of all creepy crawlers, but spiders…shudder…I can’t even talk about. I think my fear started in South Africa, where I was surrounded by shongololos and flying ants, and was exasperated by my parent’s bug book Christmas gifts (thanks rents). No matter where it came from, Ana discovered my fear in one of our first classes and never forgot it.

From the moment she first saw me squirm, Ana went to extremes to work spiders into every class. Soon enough “spider” became a character who frequented every lesson and popped up all over her worksheets. He received treatment at the clinic when we studied health vocabulary and snuggled in bed when we moved on to “the bedroom”.

Spider's Town

Spider's room

Although Ana’s games tortured me, they also functioned as a kind of tough-love therapy. Now I no longer cringe at the sight of an eight legged being, instead I think of Ana and her sneaky methods of avoiding work.


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