Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Existence at the Elementary Level

The first of the month brings the wonderful (depending on how you look at it) kindergarten lesson. At this age level it is difficult to do foreign language instruction because those kids think you are saying weird things incorrectly in Japanese. I do like how kids can think of the most random things unrelated to anything we are talking about.

I settled on a wonderful rock, paper, scissors battle for the beginning of class. During my brief explanation of the corresponding elements from Japanese to English one kid randomly interjected in Japanese, "What is kaizoku in English!?" Another two or three kids joined in with his question to which I could only but help chuckle to myself. Kaizoku is the word for pirate. Why were these kids asking me about the translation of pirate? But do we really need to care? Nope, pirates are sufficiently cool as long as you have were raised in the family of internet culture. I wonder how many Japanese kids favor ninjas over pirates merely for the fact one is native to their culture. This could be some interesting research!

Kids love rock, paper, scissors no matter the age. Japanese kids are no exception as it reigns supreme everywhere. It's even better when you get them to yell rock, paper, scissors vehemently in English. Well, until you have to tell them to tone it down a notch. The kindergarten kids were having a blast battling. I probably should have stopped there but I complicated the game times a billion by introducing bear, karate, gun as an alternative version. The kids had a hard time wrapping their minds around that one. The teachers couldn't understand why karate would beat the gun either. Yo, how does a freaking piece of paper beat a rock? I'm sure that rock could tear that paper back into shreds for pulp. So before you question watch some action movies and tell me how often hand combat allows someone to disarm a gun wielding foe. In fact I think karate beating a gun seems more logical than paper over rock. Oh such first world problems we deal with.

Lunch time was filled with the trials of female travel mistakes. I wouldn't say this is an isolated condition but why is it that the female species seems inclined to do some crazy stuff? Oh maybe they are just crazy. (just kidding you feminists out there)

During the 5th grade lesson they did a mock shopping activity as they have been learning colors and clothing. Their simple dialogue was to ask a fellow student if they had a certain color of clothing for sale to which the student would respond yes or no. This was a frantic barrage of kids handling money and little picture cards of clothing with sonic booms of volume. I could hardly hear myself think. I didn't have any money myself but I somehow managed to get a pink dress from one of the students. This was used wisely as a decoy for my ensuing shady practices. While asking if one girl had pink pants, I showed a picture of the pink dress I had to divert her attention. I then pilfered some money from her open stack of cash. She was oblivious to the whole charade. Sometimes I feel like a snake oil salesman at heart but that's only because I want to be called a charlatan and because that's a nice word. I think later on I tried to steal some cash from another student and was caught so I was branded a thief by several of the girls. To regain my legitimacy I made a transaction and used this girl to vouch for my honesty with those who threw allegations of theft at me. And you thought this was just English class, hah!

The secretary suggested I buy doughnuts when the bread salesman came around so I took her advice and got one lemon frosted doughnut. The most surprising part was when she also recommended I make the doughnut cold by placing it in the refrigerator. This sounded great as I believed myself when I thought I had never done this. Around 4pm we took part in the eating of cold doughnuts. After I took my first bite I realized I used to buy those chocolate gem doughnuts and put them in the refrigerator to keep them from getting gooey. Regardless, it was still tasty. I even learned that the secretary was quite the Uno player back in the day. My only quip with Uno is that it falls closely into the realm of uncontrolled strategy like board games with dice. Can someone really be good at Uno? Probably if you are lucky. I look forward to playing with her and some of the other teachers someday. But I'm not holding my breath for when that might happen.

To top things off, one teacher had a run in with a cockroach in the kitchen area. I thought a kid was running through the hall and fell down by the sounds I heard. No, it was just one of the teachers fleeing the kitchen and collapsing to the ground in terror from the unexpected emergence of that hideous creature. Another teacher came over and saved the day and killed it. She is a real champ. She's got the gall for many things. She even has delectable tooth paste flavors for after lunch teeth brushing. Japan cultural curiosity, lots of teeth brushing for lots of bad teeth. What gives? My most frightening memory was one kid at a kindergarten. He had black stubs of baby teeth in what looked like rotten gums. Must have been eating soft foods too early or something. Why didn't his parents DO something? It was harrowing to look at, much less think about it.

Time to look up how to make marshmallows. I think smores are calling my name this time of year.

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