An Earth-Shaking Revelation

, , , , , | Learning | June 22, 2018

I work in an international preschool in Japan, teaching three-year-olds. As a combination of their age and English being their second — or third — language, their understanding of things can be rather skewed, and funny as a result.

We have an earthquake drill one day, the first one that my class has ever done. I talk about it beforehand to make sure they have a general idea of what to do. I explain earthquakes in a very basic, kid-friendly way, emphasizing the shaking and “things breaking and falling” aspect, and areas of the room to stay away from, for safety. I remind them that it is all pretend, but important to remember in case of a real earthquake in the future.

The drill begins after lunch, and we make our way outside once the alarm stops ringing. They all find it very funny to wear the safety cushions to protect their heads, but there is minimal messing around. We make sure everyone is accounted for, and head back inside. One of my kids starts pointing around and speaking Japanese in astonishment, saying, “The building didn’t fall down! Nothing is broken?” I think maybe she expected the earthquake to happen inside the school, while we were outside?

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You’re Ducked

, , , | Learning | April 30, 2018

(The preschool where I work backs up to a green space with a creek and a pond. It’s been there for several decades and most of the wildlife know better than to get too close to the playgrounds. The exception is a duck couple we’ve had some problems with. Last year they nested under a piece of playground equipment on the toddler playground, something we were only alerted to when a toddler found the nest and crushed two of the eggs together. We closed the playground for five weeks and waited for the ducklings to hatch. They never did, and we were forced to clean up the mess. This year, the same duck couple attempts to build another nest in the same spot. I move a toy over the spot, but she returns the next day and tries to redo it. Frustrated, I call the local bird society. The woman at the bird society gives me advice.)

Bird Society: “You can do pretty much anything you like to harass the ducks: running at them, yelling at them, spraying water. Anything is okay, as long as you don’t physically injure them. And once the nest is built and contains eggs, it’s illegal to disturb it.”

Me: “We’d close the playground once there were eggs. But twenty two-year-olds kept inside for more than a month is a nightmare.”

(I thank her for the advice and am all geared up to use it when I spot the ducks on the playground again. They are both there, looking for all the world like a house-hunting couple who has shown up to view a property, and are waiting for their real estate agent. Unfortunately, I am in a classroom full of children, and cannot go running at them to discourage them from nesting there. The best I can do is yell at them from the door.)

Me: “Hey! Hey, you ducks!”

(They look at me but remain unfazed.)

Me: “Go away! Shoo! Um… This is a bad neighborhood! Terrible property values! Roving gangs of toddlers!”

(They just stared at me. Yeah, we closed the playground for five weeks.)

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A Summary Four You

, , , , | Related | March 4, 2018

(I’ve just picked my four-year-old son up from preschool and he’s doing what he usually does when I get him: telling me whatever random thoughts cross his mind.)

Son: “I eat, I play, I go potty, and I rest. That’s four! Four things.”

Me: “I have to admit; that’s a fair summary of your day.”

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Ten Out Of Ten For Effort

, , , , , | Learning | December 20, 2017

(I overhear this conversation between two four-year-olds at snack time.)

Child #1: “Did you know that five plus five is ten?”

Child #2: “Oh, yeah? So, you know what one plus one is?”

Child #1: “Um, I don’t know. I only know that five plus five is ten.”

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They’re In Your Hood Now

, , , | Learning | August 8, 2017

(I am mixed-race, black and white, and my skin is visibly brown. I identify as black. I am sitting at a fairly diverse table of pre-schoolers playing with play-dough. The first kid to speak is also mixed like I am, and visibly brown.)

Kid #1: “Miss [My Name], what are those strings for?” *points to the strings on my black hoodie*

(I put up my hood and pull the strings tight a la Kenny from South Park when he gets scared, tie them off, and grin at the table of kids from my tiny remaining circle of visible face.)

Kid #2: “You look like a black person.”

(Pause.)

Me: “I AM a black person…”

Kid #1: *shocked* “You’re a black person?!”

Coworker: “So are you, [Kid #1]!”

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