One of my students got stuck in the bathroom yesterday and I just had to blog about it! My Grade 4 classroom is actually the old meeting room and therefore it has an ensuite attached. For the first couple of months it was locked but then someone found the key and the kids can now use it during lessons or break time. It’s gross because most of the Grade 4s are boys and don’t seem to be capable of aiming accurately. Plus most of the time there’s no water in the taps or cistern … not sure why. I avoid going in there at all costs!
Anyway, I was just finishing off the last lesson of the day and David, my oldest Grade 4 (he’s 14) came up to me to ask if he could use the bathroom. I nodded my consent and then continued marking work. Heng, another student, asked if he could also use the bathroom. I told him to make a queue (we learned the word last week) so he did, but not before he’d rattled the door handle violently and knocked on the door. I explained that bathroom etiquette required Heng to be patient and give David some privacy and then continued my work. A couple of minutes later there was some excited chatter in Khmer behind me. Turning around, I saw several students standing outside the bathroom door. Asking what was going on, they explained, laughing, that David couldn’t get out of the bathroom. I tried the handle and the lock system wasn’t engaging. I told him to keep calm as I could hear him getting a little agitated. The other students thought it was hilarious. I stuck a pair of scissors in the lock which, unsurprisingly, did nothing and after a few minutes of wiggling the handle furiously, I conceded that I might need help.
The cleaner came, laughed, and then returned with some keys. None of them fitted. She disappeared. The kids laughed. Eventually one of the guards/handymen appeared with a handful of random tools, including an axe. At this point the bell rang. My free kids did their usual “goodbye teacher, see you tomorrow” before pausing and adding “goodbye David, see you tomorrow!” They ran out giggling at their hilarity. I stayed. Reassuring David every couple of minutes that he wasn’t going to be left alone all night in a smelly bathroom, I watched as the handyman slowly destroyed the handle. He eventually got the doorknob off! Success! We could see David again! It was then just a matter of using pliers to pull the stuck lock out of the doorframe. Within a few seconds David was free again! He seemed to endure the whole experience in excellent spirit and I was very proud of his attitude to the situation.
See, my life isn’t all fun and games! If I was in the US I would probably be being sued for child endangerment. As it is, I simply no longer have a bathroom that locks off my classroom.
And yes I took photos – it was too funny not to!