Friday, June 28, 2013

A Child-Sized Dose of Gratuitous Violence, and a Kiss to Make it All Better

You know, I talk a lot about how great life is at the Elementary school. And yeah, that's because it IS great. But that doesn't mean that some WEIRD/bad stuff doesn't happen from time to time. Every incoming JET hears the stories about the madness that is young Japanese children. They're full of magic and curiosity and wonder and most of all cuteness, like children everywhere. But let's look at the crazy stuff that has happened to me, and then maybe I'll close with a sweet little story like a band-aid on a big, kancho-sized boo boo.

Speaking of, let's start with kancho. Most of you thankfully have never experienced it, so let me elaborate. The origins of this prankster game are shrouded in the haze of time, but I like to think it started in the darkened halls of proctology school as a bizarre hazing ritual. Anyway, put your hands together like you've just clapped, or you're doing the praying motion. Now interlace your fingers. Now pull your index fingers and thumbs out and press them together like you're making the Charlie's Angels gun gesture. Now move them violently and furiously up and down. Now position a foreign guy's butthole over your new anus missle. Welcome to kancho.

So the younger kids in Elementary school used to be shy and play it cool around me. I could get nice hugs and sometimes kisses on the cheek or whatever. That was back in the honeymoon period. But a disturbing trend has been developing for some time now as the children become increasingly volatile and violent. Even the girls. For example, one sweet little girl with  a pixie cut who always wears cute dresses has recently begun one-sided boxing matches with me. She sees me, and she's happy, then a sinister grin spreads across her face. In my head I can hear her saying, "I'M GONNA SWING ON YOU, MAN! SWING ON YOU!" She approaches me and starts throwing really wide roundhouse punches that propel her body around in a half circle. When she corrects herself, she starts in with the kicks which have the same effect. I can only look on her as I move backward, and ask, "Why?! Why is this happening?!" but that just draws a crowd. Other kids take up the rallying call and soon I am being mercilessly pummeled by a gang of 6 and 7 year old kids as I desperately cry out to deaf ears "Why?! Et tu, Yu-chan?!"

Fortunately I'm twice their size and four times their age. Their tiny fists don't do too much damage. But it never stops at punching. Soon, the naughty trolls in the mix notice that I am too busy warding off punches to adequately maintain rear protection.

There are several awful kinds of kancho. The standard kancho, which I taught you before-- just stab violently at the butt area and hope you can find purchase. But true master class kancho enthusiasts have developed another technique. This I call "The Death Star". It's a two pronged sexual harassment onslaught. They stand to one side of me near my leg and try to run one tiny hand up my butt, like Luke Skywalker flying outside the Death Star searching for the one weak point, while also making me ward off frontal punches on my genitals. This insidious technique is really quite unsettling when it is done and usually causes me to rapidly lose patience and either get mad or retreat to safety. But this time they had sealed off all escape routes. So I had to engage in one on one combat with my assailant while positioning myself against a wall to afford added protection. I was going to have to fight my way out of this one.

Now-- there is one little boy who needs my attention like a drowning person needs air. But it goes beyond just attention seeking and ventures into the area of "I'll kill you if you don't play with me right now". So this kid is coming at me head first and I'm keeping him at arms' length by holding his arms out away from me. He's doing that lean in and charge thing that kids do with their heads. But I'm like a titan among tiny men and he is no challenge. He knows this, so he decides to up the ante and start biting. Meanwhile I'm trying to steer him in front of other children and utilize the blocking technique to give myself some room to escape. So I have to release him and move out of the way like a bullfighter as he rushes me. Just then, the most awful thing imaginable happened.

From out of nowhere, just like he was reaching out to pick a strawberry, a different little boy strolls up to me, unfazed by the chaos around him like a god of war on the battlefield, and reaches out and grabs my junk like he was honking a clown's nose at the fair.

Forgive me for graphic imagery, but it's true. A look of horror and betrayal washed across my face. "Oh my God...this is ridiculous." I muttered. I gave him my best "No, SERIOUSLY. Enough! Stop!" face and said the same, but I was met with churlish laughter. More children were closing in, sensing blood. El Toro kid was coming around for a second pass. Yu-chan was calling out, "I'M GONNA SWING ON YOU, BRO!". Time seemed to slow down as I realized I might die. So I did the only thing I could do.

I literally turned and ran away.

I fled from a bunch of little kids because they trapped and attacked me. I don't even feel bad about it. It was survival.  I learned my lesson-- always keep an escape route open. And perhaps, just maybe, I should invest in a helmet and a cup.

Then there is the little girl whose moods take dramatic turns very quickly. She runs up to me every day and begins tugging at my shirt. "Pick me up! Pick me up!" she calls over and over again. Who can resist that? She can't weight more than three pounds anyway, so I always oblige her. I carry her around a little bit, and at some point I'll stop and look at her. She'll whip her head around to stare at me. A dramatic pause will pass between us. The change happens. Subtly. Almost imperceptibly.

Then she just blows a huge raspberry right in my face, spitting everywhere.

I can't even protect myself because I'm holding her up at the same time. If I try to drop her, and believe me after the first few times of this I figured I might as well just try it and see what happens, she clings to me with her arms and legs wrapped around my body and then continues the assault. I have to literally tickle her to get her to detach from me. She also started the alarming trend of clinging to me so tenaciously that she pulls down my pants as she slides down my leg like a fire pole. I've never felt so awkward as the first (and only, thankfully) time I was standing in the middle of the hallway around a bunch of first graders with my pants halfway to my knees. That was definitely a low point.

But don't get the wrong idea, the kids show their adoration of me too. I was in the first year's class, I can't remember why-- I was probably dragged in for the insidious purposes of some mischievous troglodyte, when I wandered over to where one little girl was drawing. She stopped and flipped through her book. "Look Spencer-sensei! I drew Pikachu and a bunny rabbit!" she said. I told her it was amazing and said I wanted to be in one of her pictures too. She nodded her agreement then flipped back through the book to work on her other picture. Forgotten, I let myself be dragged by other students out of the classroom and to the gym-- doubtless the location of another savage beat-down. As I stood in the doorway to the gym though I noticed the little girl from before come running down the hall with her tiny little steps. She finally reached me, took my hand and said "Spencer-sensei! Come to year 1 class 1 (her class)!". I said OK, and let her lead me by the hand through the hallway. When we reached the classroom it was empty and her supplies were still strewn about her desk. She brought me over to her tiny chair and sat me down. She was still standing so we were at eye level with each other. She pulled out her book and leafed through it. "Found it!" she said, and showed me the page she was looking at.

There I was, right between Pikachu and the bunny rabbit. I was dressed and colored in the outfit I was actually wearing, and I had a big yellow star on my chest (I wasn't actually wearing a star). She looked up at me and searched my face for a reaction.

And for some reason, I got choked up. I mean, how cute is that? I showered her with praise and thanked her. She beamed at me. Then she put away her book and we headed back to the gym. I let her ride piggyback and she chattered away happily as I carried her down the hallway.

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