Cheburashka skis and shoots guns.
_ You explain for the forty-second time in the last two weeks how, when coupled with the pronouns he, she, or it, verbs conjugated in the present simple tense must end in s, or some variation thereof: es in the case of verbs ending with sounds like “sh” and “ch” or, in the case of verbs ending in y (fly, cry, try), the y changes to i then gets the es. For some reason, these thick-skulled six-year-olds just can’t compute this basic tenant of English grammar, burning your ears with utterances so foul as “she get up eight o’clock”, “he brush teeth in the morning”, and “dog eat bone” (again with the no-articles thing!).
Then, as the lecture on when to use which indefinite article (a or an) at what time, how the an loves a, e, i, o, and u, the harangue reaching crescendo with an standing before umbrella, just an indefinite article in front of a word (beginning with a vowel sound, of course) asking it to love it, that’s when a familiar odor wafts over from the children to the board, letting you know exactly what they think of singular form nouns of non-specific origin and their respectively indefinite accoutrements: It’s a fart, an odorous blast from a non-specific child with a more pressing matter than learning this shit again.
It doesn’t take long for a hand to raise, this hand definitely belonging to the now exposed offender, whose body is presently tensed, an unholy struggle going on inside it. But, for you, the moment yields itself to yet another brain-bomb to drop on the whole class, that classic move of using one student’s mistake or confusion, question or bowel movement to teach the collective about the finer points of the English language. Dear sweet child, you mustn’t say the incomplete declarative sentence “I go bathroom”, for how ever will I decipher your rudimentary request—sniff, sniff.
So, after you’ve explained how to politely appeal for permission to do something, the students each taking a go at pairing May I with a verb, perhaps afterwards chanting “May I go to the bathroom?” a couple of times so that, hopefully, in the future, Neanderthal structures like “I go bathroom” can be avoided—after you’ve improvised another lesson for the day’s class, you look down at the squirming kid dying for the toilet, willing to give him or her another chance to ask you correctly: “Please, bathroom?” If you’re soft-hearted like me, you let the kid go anyway.
By the time this linguistically- and intestinally-challenged…not troublemaker but, perhaps, misguided youth has left the room, it’s apparent he or she first released another flurry of stink bombs. Powering on, you go back to the child who inspired the initial revisiting of the s-at-the-end-of-present-simple-verbs-prefaced-by-singular-or-uncountable-nouns discussion. He or she has made the same mistake on number two of today’s review exercise. Your eyes begin to well up in frustration as you consider another retelling of that old present simple yarn, but this time you settle for writing the s into the child’s workbook.
Standing there in lingering stench, another kid squelching in the corner of your eye, it dawns on you again why very few English-learners master the present simple s: fifteen minutes in and you’re playing hangman for the forty-second time in the last two weeks.