I made a kid cry yesterday
I was sitting in the town library studying my kanji when I heard quick little steps running along. I looked up to see a little 2-3 year old kid come hurriedly toddling out from an aisle looking delighted at the picture book she'd found. She turned and saw me, and froze in mid-step. Her face went completely blank. And she just stayed there, frozen, and stared. And stared. I smiled, and she just stared. So I waved, and she stared. I smiled some more. No response. I mouthed "hello". No response. I mouthed "konnichiwa". No response. I smiled. No response. Just an open-mouthed stare in the middle of the library. I went back to my books. Then looked back up. She was still there. So I smiled again. No response. I waved. No response. I smiled. Then, a response. Her arms dropped to her sides and she just stood there and faced me and started bawling. Really going for it, in the middle of the quiet library. Poor thing. Mum came rushing in and picked her up and faced her away from me and took her into the next aisle and set her down. But it wasn't far enough. Just when she started to calm down, she turned and looked through the shelf of books and saw me again, and started up afresh. So I picked up my books and moved.
Luckily, most kids aren't like that. Most are delighted to see me, especially in the Shougakkou classes I've taken, which I've had two days of so far. The kids there are about age 6-11. Especially the younger ones are full of energy and love seeing the crazy gaijin turn up and try to touch him and stuff. The classes are quite cool cos the kids actually really want to learn, and although I don't teach them much (like maybe, the alphabet, or basic greetings, or names of animals or months…. depending on how old they are), we still have a good time and the kids are always eager to hear whatever I'm gonna say next. And love seeing pictures and stuff from NZ.
I don't know quite how much they learn though. Yesterday, I was at a school (a tiny country school – only 23 students in the whole thing from first grade to sixth grade), and taught the lower kids the alphabet. They already knew the Alphabet Song, so we had a great time with that, but then I decided to split them into two groups and write the alphabet twice on the board – once on each side. Then I gave the two front kids a piece of chalk and told them that when I called out a letter, they were to race to the board and circle it. First one gets a point. It was hilarious watching them race up to the board, quickly scan the letters for a second or two, then confidently circle a completely random letter. Completely. I would say "S" and they would race up and circle "B". "No, S!" So then they'd try X, J, Q, I, and eventually land on S by sheer luck. Cracked me up. Later that day I saw a girl get absolutely nailed by a ball to the head after a boy kicked it with all his might in a game of "Kick-Base". She was tough though. Even though she was the tiniest cutest little thing 😀
So the kids are pretty cool. Tonoda Shougakkou had its Sports Day last weekend as well, though I didn' get to see much of it, since a little girl, the younger sister of one of the kids competing, grabbed me as soon as she saw me and did't let me go the whole time. She dragged me all around the place yelling out to everyone that here was "Eigojin-san", and pointing to me, which means kind of the same as "Mr. Person From the Land of English", and sounds equally retarded in Japanese. But of course, when a kid says it, retarded becomes cute, so all the parents and teachers were loving it. Also, another kid really wanted to try on my sunglasses and hat. So, now I've written enough, so I'll just stick up some photos in the Gallery and you can look for yourself 😀