Flora hated the Shijonawate kids, and also had a calligraphy exhibition on the day that she was scheduled to return, so she asked if I would do it. I agreed. So last Saturday instead of going to Freshness Burger (so delicious) with Dan, Brian, and Cathy, I trekked back up into the mountains to see the kiddos.
I have cut my hair since last time I went. I no longer have the crazy curly dirty blond locks that they came to know and be mesmerized by. This, it turns out, was a mistake. Before when they were being loud I could just be like, “Look curly hair, blue eyes!” And bam they would be right back under my spell. Apparently you need both, because I was serving up blue eyes, but they were not buying.
I would not say that they were horrible, but they certainly were not good. The Japanese do not really believe in punishing their kids. I tend to agree with this philosophy to a large extent. I’m big on natural consequences. If a kid does not want to wear a hat, fine they will see the importance of it when their head gets super cold. Why invent an exterior framework of punishment when nature provides one for free?
Anyway, the Japanese are even bigger into this than I am. So their kids can be monsters. The notion of being told what to do is incredibly alien to the kids. If you push the “I’m an adult, you must listen to me” card too hard, they will shut down entirely. The other problem is that the kids are of a mixed group. They range in grade from probably about third to sixth. There is an incredible amount of information that sixth graders know that third graders do not. It is very hard to plan activities around such a diverse age group. This is another problem I tend to have with Japanese approach to learning English. Many do not seem to understand that it is not enough for a group of kids to “be interested in English”. The group also has to be of similar skill. As a result my games were too easy for some kids and too hard for the younger kids. Because prizes were on the line, the older kids dominated and the younger kids lost interest and began running around the room. Yet, another problem is it was a hot day so kids are not too interested in doing much for long. Add to it that the sessions are 1.5 hours long (with a ten minute break) and anyone would get tired of a foreign tongue.
All-in-all I say it went pretty well. The kids listened for most of the time until the cataclysmic end, I had fun (again until the end). I can say that I was glad I went, but also glad it ended.
After it was over I walked around Shijonawate and took some pictures. I wondered up into a Shinto shrine in the mountain. It was typical Shinto magic for me. I really appreciate the Shinto sense of aesthetics. It is such a great way to escape the city. After walking around and snapping lots of photos I returned home.
Though I would have preferred to go to Freshness Burger (I eat there far too infrequently) it was not an entirely bad way to spend time Saturday. Plus I made $50 out of the deal.