The funny things kids say

Okay, this post is long overdue. I’ve been working at my new job, an international kindergarten where all students are Japanese, for the past few months. During this time, I’ve learned a lot.

Firstly, I’ve discovered that kids are wonderful. I mean, I was the person who used to say I didn’t like them. That wasn’t technically true, but I wasn’t sure if I knew how to handle them. It turns out, neither do some parents. Sometimes I have to admit that the physical act of having a child does not make you a good mother (or father if we’re not talking physical). Truth be told, most parents have no idea what they’re doing when they first start out. There isn’t a manual on how to ‘operate’ a child and thus, most people just make it up as they go along. Life is similar; just a collection of trial and error moments.

Anyway, tangent aside, I realised that not only am I actually a natural with kids this age, but I relate to them in a way I never have with adults. They’re honest. Brutally so sometimes. Somewhere along the way kids are told to stop being like that.

“It’s rude to say that,” they’re told.

“You can’t say that,” they’re told.

“You shouldn’t feel that way,” they’re told.

Fuck adults, I say.

The second thing I’ve learned is that you are utterly exhausted after a day with them. I come home most days now and fall asleep on my floor before dinner, wake up, eat and then crawl into my futon which I’ve barely been able to set up.

Perhaps the best thing though is that I’ve learned kids are hilarious. I mean, laugh out loud kind of stuff. Hence, this post.

Here is a collection of anecdotes I’ve been compiling since I started.

 

 

  • Friday is Snack Day. The kids get a snack if they’ve done good work and have been well behaved that week. Like a reward. Anyway, the other day I sat them down and said, “Why do we get snacks?” One little boy looked at me like I’d asked the dumbest thing ever (he might be right) and replied, “Because it’s Friday?” That wasn’t the response I was looking for, but yeah, he had a point…

 

  • I wear my glasses all the time and the other day I stopped to take them off to rub my eye. One boy started yelling, “Put your glasses back on!” I did because I wanted to stop him from yelling but was surprised when he said, “You’re not Jade without them.” His response was exactly what I wished some adult men and women I know need to hear. I have been told by some stupid people, “Oh, you have such beautiful eyes! You shouldn’t wear your glasses.” And the best one (by a stupid woman AND family friend I might add!): “Men would be more attracted to you if you didn’t wear your glasses.” Since I’m a contrary shit, that just made me wear them more often. Plus, A. Why would I want to attract a man who was that superficial? And B. I wouldn’t be able to see him anyway without my glasses. J

 

  • Ah yes, swimming. That brings up a whole new topic of conversation with the kids. I was telling my mum the other day that I have now seen more penises than I need (or want) to see in my lifetime. Four-year-old boys are obsessed with theirs and as I told the manager of the school, it gets worse as they get older. Anyway, the first week one boy jumped in front and me and said in Japanese, “Jade, look at my chin-chin!” Chin-chin is a slang word for penis. The thing was though, he used the honorific term with ‘o’ in front of it. Thus, he was basically saying, “Look at my magnificent penis!” That alone made me laugh and so I had to explain not to refer to his own as magnificent but that it was perfectly acceptable to say it to someone else. I may have scarred this boy for life… Dear God.

 

  • Second swimming penis story… The next one involves a different boy who decided to jump in front of me totally naked whilst I was supervising them getting changed and yelling, “Jade, look at my penis!” At this point I was so sick of them saying it that my response was, “You know what? I don’t care. Every week I see it and every week you want to show me and every week it looks the same. I’m not impressed.” He gave me a very adult male look that said I’d clearly hurt his ego and then tucked it back into his swimmers and said, “Ah okay, fine.”

 

  • The next swimming story involves a boy and a girl. The kids were changing after swimming and I turned around to find one of the boy’s eyes literally a few centimetres away from one of the girl’s pubic region. I yelled at him, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” He stood up, puzzled look on his face and asked, “Jade, why don’t girls have chin-chins?” In the two seconds I searched for an answer I found myself saying, “Because they’re girls.” It satisfied him and he said, “Hmm, okay,” and wandered off to continue changing.

 

  • We have a song and dance activity during the week where all classes sing and dance together in a circle with the songs they’re learning that month. One of the songs involves the words, “Baby shark, mommy shark, daddy shark,” etc. The other day during play time in the morning one of the boys told me he was daddy shark. Another little girl piped up she was mommy shark. I said, “I’m baby shark.” The boy shook his head. “No, you’re not. You’re grandma shark.” Shut down.

 

  • The last story happened just last week when the weather was getting hotter and the kids needed their hat to go outside. He was walking out of the classroom to line up with the others when I called him back to get his hat. He said, “Jade, it’s partly cloudy today, I don’t need my hat.” WHERE THE HELL DID YOU LEARN THAT LANGUAGE?! I thought to myself. Turns out he actually does listen and reads the weather chart we do each day. It was such an adult thing to say I had to laugh. And yes, I made him take his hat.

Phrase/Word of the Day

So today I learned a new phrase. It wasn’t a Japanese phrase, it was an English phrase. Yes, the Native English speaker learned a new English phrase.

Let me explain a little bit first.

I was in an English Communication class for second year students and they were looking at days of the week, months of the year and the seasons. I had asked them various questions about their favorite day, season, festivals etc. (and also their least favorite) and had asked them what they did in their free time on the weekends. I then asked them to write a detailed plan of their ‘typical’ weekend.

I noticed one of the girls had written, ‘iPhone time.’

Yes people. ‘iPhone time.’

She explained that just like me choosing to close Facebook because I spent too much time on it, she had decided she needed to limit her messaging time on her iPhone. She now gives herself one hour, YES, ONE HOUR, a day in which to respond to emails, texts and chat application messages.

WOW!

Her concept is absolutely brilliant and… I’m not quite sure I’d be able to do it. I don’t doubt that I could try it, I just don’t think I would like to do it.

But hey, I learned a new phrase.

🙂

Oh Japan, I love your English

So I haven’t written a post about teaching for ages, probably because I haven’t been doing much apart from private lessons. I have, however, been finding and laughing at various examples of either signs or things that people say to me.

In the last two days I’ve found some crackers which I need to share here.

The first was in a bookshop yesterday while I was shopping with one of my Japanese male friends. He’s a graduate student and is heading to Australia next year to study English and work part-time. He wanted to buy a book on TOEFL and so we were browsing through the English-language study section. He was up one end of the aisle and I was down the other flicking through various phrasebooks and half-listening to the English CD that was playing sentences in English and then the Japanese translation.

The sentence below not only cracked me up but made me wonder, A. Why are people learning this particular phrase? B. Who would use this particular phrase? and C. When would you use this particular phrase?

Oh and D. Am I being immature laughing at this?

My answer: no. If you answered yes, Jack, you should grow up, you need to stop reading my blog right now. There are no grown-ups around here, only big kids.

So, the sentence was:

“Playing with my cat relieves my stress.”

I was laughing like a crazy person and immediately texted a female friend of mine to say,

“Hey, if you changed just one word (cat) in this sentence it would mean something completely different, but it sure still does relieve your stress!”

I can still hear her laughing through my phone and from an entirely different continent.

The second sentence was in a shop that sells various toys, gags, books and multiple other weird and wonderful things. There was a section with superheroes and quotes they’re known for saying.

One of the quotes should have read, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but they’d made a mistake and used a different vowel so it said,

“What doesn’t kill you makes your stranger.”

Indeed.

Oh Japan, I love your English. Sometimes it’s confusing, sometimes it’s annoying, but dear God, most of the time it’s fucking hilarious.

Don’t ever change.

Boys will be boys!

Now I am lucky enough to teach some fantastically brilliant Japanese teenage boys who are not only intelligent, but also honest (sometimes too much so!) and genuinely nice kids. They’re also absolutely hilarious.

The other night I was telling them about an Australian TV show I used to watch as a kid called, ‘Mr. Squiggle.’ He was a puppet who came from the moon in a rocket and had a pencil for a nose. Children would send in their ‘squiggles’ and he would create a drawing from them. Click here for the first episode courtesy of YouTube.

Now the boys were fascinated with this aspect of Australian/Western culture and so asked me to provide them with some squiggles of my own for them to create drawings from.

I should have seen it coming… every activity we do somehow ends up with them talking about sex. They are OBSESSED. They’re normal teenage boys… it’s perfectly natural.

Every single squiggle was turned into boobs, a penis, a vagina, sperm or some sexually-related thing. They had me in stitches. I tried desperately to alter their pictures (including making a penis into ‘Mr. Pig,’ but it always came back to sex.

At the end of the night they decided to make their drawings into a book which I promptly confiscated and took home with me to throw out. I still haven’t thrown it out. It’s too funny to destroy. So I thought why not share their artistic talents with you? 🙂

Their 'book' of drawings

Their ‘book’ of drawings

'Mr. Pig'

‘Mr. Pig’

Forget Hello Kitty and Anpan Man, the new character in Japan is 'Diok!'

Forget Hello Kitty and Anpan Man, the new character in Japan is ‘Diok!’

Teaching: It’s a vocation, not a job

During my time as a teacher both in Australia and overseas I’ve found that my job entails far more than just that. In fact, I sometimes think my job description should include: mother, big sister, friend, confidante, counselor, psychologist and life coach. To my high school students I’ve given advice on matters dealing with things far removed from the classroom and some of the conversations I’ve had with them have truly broken my heart or made me smile. Their worries have become my worries, their hurt has become my hurt and their joys have become my joys. Now, living in Japan, I have noticed just how lonely some of these people are and how what appears to be JUST an English lesson is far more than that… for both of us.

The other day one of my salary men came in looking very worried. His wife is pregnant with their first baby and is due in a couple of months. They currently live in a rented apartment and are looking to buy their first house. He’s still undecided about the house they’ve been looking at and he told me his wife is angry with him for being so indecisive. As he sat there and told me about how he feels and how this decision is one of the biggest of his life, I realized just how much I care for my students. These people have become my friends; people whose lives I am intimately connected with and people whom I am genuinely interested in. I want to know how they’re doing, I want to know how they feel and I want to help them in any way that I can. If that means just listening and I mean, truly listening, then I feel very privileged to be the one they are sharing it with. In many cases, I am the ONLY one they can share it with.

This same student arrived yesterday looking very worried indeed. He asked me whether I’d seen the news about the 71-year-old man on the Shinkansen (bullet train) who had doused himself in flammable liquid and then set himself on fire. I said yes. He suddenly took a deep breath and said, “He was single. He was lonely.” I nodded and said it was indeed possible that this was the case. I thought it appropriate at that moment to teach him the term, ‘support network’ and explained that just because you are single, doesn’t mean you don’t have friends and family who love you and care for you. He agreed, but his sudden obsession with the fear of losing his wife and being alone was clearly weighing heavily on his mind. Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that he said he doesn’t have any friends here, only in his hometown. I find it hard to believe that a man who has lived and worked here for over 20 years wouldn’t have any friends (or at least anyone he considers to be a friend). The way he was talking to me was like I was suddenly the only person he could talk to. I was someone he could unburden himself to.

As a Japanese person, it’s rare to talk about your feelings and other such personal matters unless you’ve had a skin-full of alcohol. There was no alcohol in sight. Was it because he can express himself more adequately in English or simply that he can talk to me more openly because I’m a foreigner? Who knows? Either way, he looked a lot more relieved and certainly happier when he left the room. My job was done. I’m not sure whether I’m referring to ‘teaching’ or something else.

A close friend and fellow teacher once told me that teaching is a vocation. I truly believe that. Teaching is not simply a job, but a calling. You have to want to help others learn and you need to be understanding and compassionate in order to be any good at that. I cannot begin to express the frustration I feel with English teachers in Japan who don’t take their job seriously. As a qualified teacher I want people to know that I chose this profession, I didn’t decide to do it just because I wanted to come to Japan. I must point out though, that being a qualified teacher doesn’t mean I’m any better than someone who doesn’t have a piece of paper with an official stamp. Some of the best teachers I know have no formal training and are just good at helping others to understand.

My students are so important to me and they really make my day. I hope I have a positive impact on them and they enjoy my classes/lessons. I don’t think they’ll ever really know though, that being with them is sometimes more of a lesson for me than it is for them.