Even though they have completely forgotten everything from last week.
I had them just after two worst of the Sullen Middle-Schoolers, who managed to be even more infuriating than usual today. They kept trying to go to sleep, they wouldn’t play any of the games, and when I asked for their homework, one of them said in Japanese, disgustedly, “We don’t do our homework.”
Her tone suggested I should have known that by now. I do know it, sweetie, but it would be nice if you could at least pretend you just forgot it, or look maybe faintly embarrassed about it, like the other Never Do Their Homework kids. I’ve been giving all the students under the age of twenty chocolate for Valentines day this week, and I’d planned to, you know, be a grown up and give them theirs despite all their bad behavior, but it didn’t really seem like it’d be good for classroom discipline to give them presents after that little display.
So I’d been planning to be nice to them, and they made it impossible.
So I was not in a good mood when Mr. Yodeler came in for a make-up class. Mr. Yodeler is five, and is the other student in Little Miss Conan’s class. He’s always dancing and he sings everything he says. Even when he’s just sitting and coloring, he’s swaying back and forth, making up little songs out of the last few syllables whoever’s in the room said. And he mimics. When he’s with Conan, who’s pretty quiet, he alternates between mimicking her – that is, not talking – and mimicking me, ie, singing everything I say back at me.
The silences are annoying, because they create a feedback loop that makes Conan talk even less, but today I learned that he’s totally adorable by himself – no silence, just lots and lots of mimic-singing. I can totally trick him into memorizing sentence structures without him realizing it. And we’re doing body parts this month, so I can channel his dancing into a million billion repeats of Head And Shoulders Knees And Toes.
I really hope Mr. Yodeler’s parents have him in music classes.
(I unfortunately couldn’t give him chocolate, either – I have him again for his normal class with Conan tomorrow, and I’ll give him one then, but I don’t want to give anyone two.)
Mr. K was next. He again staggered in pretending to be dying, though this time it only lasted as long as it took him to get his boots off. I had to drill him on everything again today, because, as previously stated, he’d totally forgotten it all, even Head And Shoulders Knees And Toes.
I’ve had all the kids this week playing a Lupercalia-themed body parts game where one person wears a wolf mask and has to tag the others on a certain body part (I hold up a flashcard) with a balloon-animal-type balloon.* The older kids, like Mr. K, have to say a sentence with the word. I’ve been using the same balloon the whole time, so it’s gotten squeezed and poked at a lot. Mr. K and I played two rounds, and then I assigned him his greatest challenge – “fingers.” He has a lot of trouble pronouncing “fingers.” His expression grew intense as he formulated his sentence. His wolf mask dangled around his chin, because the string broke yesterday and it won’t really tighten anymore. He gripped the balloon tightly, preparing to launch an attack on me. The balloon burst.
He stood there frozen for a couple seconds, holding the remains of the balloon in his hands, looking tragic, nobly endeavoring to ignore my undignified giggling. He, at least, understood the gravity of this situation.
Then I gave him the stuffed chicken, and we used that to tag for the rest of the game.
As he was about to leave, he got kind of morose about something – usually he’s pretty chattery when it’s time to go, but today no. I walked him to the door and gave him his chocolate. He looked solemnly at it, then dug something out of his bag and handed it to me, his shoulders all hunched. He’d brought me a 100 yen thing of chocolate cookies from the Hyaku-En Shop.
It was obviously from his Mom. There was a little bow on it. I could maybe buy a seven-year-old boy deciding to bring Teacher a present*, but a little bow? Is a clear sign of Mom Intervention. You could see how sulky he was about the whole thing – aside from the general cross-cultural humiliation of Mom making you give Teacher a present, in Japan only girls give chocolate for Valentines day. It was the most hilariously adorable thing in the universe. I think I may have, like, brain diabetes now.
* I’ve explained the historical significance of this to Manager and a few of the parents, but it’s too much to get across to the kids. (Though I might try going into more detail with Mee tomorrow.) Crying Four-Year-Old’s*** Mom seemed intrigued by the presence of wolf-men in Ancient Valentines Day – “And here Japan just buys chocolate!”
** Some of the girls do – one gave me a bunch of peanuts last week, handing them to me one by one out of her pocket. I have also received a pink floral origami frog. (From one third of the Class That Always Acts Up, even!)
*** I had Crying Four-Year-Old for make-up today, too, and the other kid who’s supposed to be in his class actually showed up this time! And Crying Four-Year-Old didn’t cry! He was actually really, really cheerful – he was just happily chattering away to the other boy, explaining all the games I’d been playing with his Mom last week to him! I’d’ve thought the other kid was the shy one, if I’d never seen Weepy alone.