You joined my English lessons around two months ago, in October 2007. You go to the same kindergarten that we rent rooms from and your Mum came with you to watch my lesson twice before you joined.
This kindergarten is my most difficult all week, in the countryside and very boisterous-boy-heavy with teachers who don't particularly believe in exerting discipline (bad for me-a former barmaid and student who has avoided schools like the plague since 16...).
Though new kids typically sign up in April, you and two other boys were late starters. You three are so talented that we opened a new class for you. You will never know how much optimism you give me that what I'm doing is having an impact...you are all so young and so much fun, so lively that I have to drink genki drinks and coffee before your class and stuff myself with slow-burning muesli in the morning just to keep up.
You three are so desperate for knowledge, I have never come across students like you before. But, sometimes, you are so vulnerable that I just want to hug you like a little brother.
Two weeks ago, Tsubasa, you made me laugh more than I have laughed since I arrived in Japan. There we were, me on a tiny chair in front of you, Ryo and Fuma, holding up a flashcard of a chair and saying "What is it?" Then, being really excited and happy as any little boy should be, you turned around to your classmate, Fuma, and kissed him right on the lips.
When I saw how angry he was, I couldn't contain my laughter. Why was he so angry? He's a little on the macho side, but Ryo, your other class mate, played up to Fuma's reaction and both boys moved their chairs to the other side of the room to show their anger and dissaproval.
However, today, two weeks later, Ryo also found the whole thing funny and tried to kiss Fuma too, just to piss him off. We were practicing the concept of "HE" and "SHE" and Fuma pointed at you and said "SHE".
Later on, when I asked you which sticker you wanted from a sheet, you proudly said "PINK HEART PLEASE!"
Tsubasa, you have made my fortnight and maybe even my whole stint as a teacher. Please keep going with your instincts and don't ever let convention change your choices. I know this might be too good to be true, especially in a society as uniform as Japan, but I can only hope you don't change too much as you grow up. A little message from the teacher you will soon have to forget...
ETIHAD by Kate Feld
1 week ago