(Leo is the Russian kid.)
Peter Pan, Jack’o’Lantern, and an as-yet non-nicknamed cohort came over to my desk and prevented me from working for a while again today, so I decided to make them practice some non-lying-related English. One of my questions was, “How old are you?” They didn’t understand the question. I did the example sentence for them, “How old are you? I’m twenty-three.” This works on grade-schoolers most of the time, but did not work on this set of high-schoolers.
Manager, who was standing nearby showing Leo something, said to them, “Why don’t you have Leo help you? He’s fluent in English, you know!”
Leo gets extremely annoyed when Manager tells people he speaks English, which I don’t think Manager has noticed – I’m sure he and Lucca get really sick of people assuming they do – but in this case, he actually did know. He told Peter Pan haughtily in Japanese, “She’s asking how old you are. She’s twenty-two – I mean, no, twenty-three!”
“Oh!” said Peter Pan. “You’re good!”
“Okay, so how old are you?” I asked Peter Pan.
“English! English! You’re thirteen.”
“No! That’s bedsheets! Thir-teen! Thir-teen!”
The word “bedsheets” was apparently too much for Peter Pan, for I had lost her again. Leo said, “Thirteen. It means juu-san-sai.” Kagura-sensei had come over to look for something, and he pointed to her and said to me in English, “She’s four hundred.”
Manager and I both made threatening gestures at him. (Kagura-sensei, who was doing actual work, did not bother.) “Sorry, sorry,” he said. “I don’t think you’re actually sorry,” I told him. I don’t know if he understood this, but he nodded solemnly in agreement.
“Wow!” said Peter Pan and Jack’o’Lantern. “You really are good at English!”
“Oh, I’m not that great,” he said, spinning around impressively on his roller-skate shoes.
“Those are good shoes,” said the third girl, eyeing them covetously. And Leo, though his ego is quite healthy, is nonetheless still twelve – slightly too fragile to handle all this at once, he was forced to skate away for a second. Aww.