Thursday, December 07, 2006

Coffee Enema & Crazy Kid Meltdown

Today I was sitting at my desk drinking a cup of hot Twinings Earl Gray Tea when Mrs. F plops down at her desk across from me. Today she got to chatting with me right off the bat. Usually she'll sit down and wait a few minutes before the customary "Ahemmm..." or "biiiigggg Boooooggeerrr sensei...." (in a totally nasal tone)... But this time she just directly started talking to me without any hesitation.

She said, "I am eating rhubarb these days." And I gave her a look like "Where do you come up with these intro-sentences?" I mean, we weren't discussing anything, I wasn't even looking her way but the first thing she said to me was this bit about "Rhubarb" so I was totally not prepared for it.
So I said to her, "Why are you eating rhubarb?" And she goes on to tell me some story about a friend giving it to her and so on. And then she gets to the juicy bits and let's slip that she's constipated and she takes the rhubarb to fix her constipation. In Japanese the word constipation is 便秘 (べんぴ)bempi. So I we got to talking about constipation, which lead to poop talk and some other bodily function talk which proved to be a very strange conversation once it was all said and done.
Then later on that day, we get to what I dub "The Crazy Kid Meltdown." It was just after lunch and I was at my desk reading the Asahi Shinbun on the internet when all of a sudden I hear this animal-like screaming ripping down from the hallway and into the teacher's room. The door was closed but it sounded like some monster had been turned loose in the hallway and was eating students alive.

So the book salesman who was standing nearby looked right at me in horror/amazement/shock, and I look back at him in much the same way. I decide it must have been a fluke so I ignore it and go back to my news during lunch. Less than a split second later, that same jungle-roar bellowed out again, and this time I heard some screaming and shouting. I decided to go take a look just in case someone was hurt or something.

So I opened the door to the teachers room and peered right. Nothing. No one was in the hallway and nothing was happening there. So I jeered back toward the left and that's when I saw where that wild noise was coming from. At the foot of the staircase, there I saw two male teachers and a male third grade student in what looked to be like some sort of pro wrestling hold. In between the two was an old ragged umbrella that all three were trying to hold on to.
I walked closer and noticed that a whole gang of 3rd grade students had gathered at the top to watch the action. Well, I guess this had been going on for a few minutes because there were about 20-30 kids watching these two teachers try to wrestle that umbrella away from the boy. So I casually walked over, looked at one of the struggling teachers, gave him my best "can I give you hand" gestures, and he nodded. I grabbed that umbrella and jerked it right out of all three of their hands. It snapped right in the middle and the boy just started wailing like some caged up raccoon that's been taunted for weeks.

I acknowledge the teachers, helped the one who nodded to me to pick up the shattered pieces of the umbrella, and let them still holding the student down on the ground. I walked back into the teacher's room and continued to drink my tea and read the news. Well about 2 minutes later I hear a scuffling noise and that boy starts screaming and running down the hallway. I figured he'd broken free and was making a dash for it. Within seconds, "Crazy Meltdown Kid" was at the school entrance, and had bolted for the door. In doing so, he slammed the door open so quickly and then it bounced back with such force that it shattered. We all heard the tell-tale sounds of shattering glass all the way down the hall in the teacher's room.
So I walked toward the 玄関 genkan (entrance way)and made a visual inspection of the broken glass. Rapidly about 10 teachers started cleaning the mess and taping up the dangerous shards still stuck in the door frame. Soon a man would come and replace the glass and everything went back pretty much to normal. It was eerily quiet for the rest of the lunch period, but not long after it was as if "Crazy Meltdown Kid" didn't even exist.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Head Skin Eater In Japanese Special Education Class

I teach a special education class in the Japanese junior high school that I am at now. In fact I teach 2 special education classes and 2 special needs classes. I love it. I love the kids, I love the activities and think highly of the program to introduce English to these wonderful children.

Today I had a class with two of the severely disabled students. They have severe mental impairment and I have grown accustomed to their little quirks that make them unique. One boy, let's call him K-kun, he as atopic dermatitis called アトピー (atopy) here in Japan. Well he constantly wants you to scratch him. He will walk over to you and produce an arm, leg, neck or head and ask you to scratch it for him. I have gotten used this and sometimes I'll rub his head or something but usually I don't do it. I feel sorry for him because atopic dermatitis is hellish for children, especially one with a mental impairment.

Well the other student, let's call him R-kun, he is a nice little boy who is a tad bit more capable than K-kun when it comes to talking and communicating. He can respond and can pronounce words and so on. K-kun tries but he just doesn't have the ability but he gets a huge A for effort.
Anyway R-kun had band-aids covering all of his finger tips because he likes to chew the skin on his fingers. He will chew them until they bleed and it creates a huge mess not to mention makes his fingers look like they've been through a meat grinder. Lucky for us, today he was not in the finger chewing mood.

Instead, while we were trying to teach the two boys the song "Jingle Bells" R-kun kept scratching his scalp with his band-aid covered fingers. He was digging at his head (which is nearly bald due to a close scalp shaving) at a ferocious pace. As soon as you told him "ダメ” he'd stop, but in the next instant he'd be back at it.

I watched him closely for a few minutes and figured out what it was that was causing him to scratch his head so vigorously. He was trying to harvest scalp skin so he could eat it. I guess he had some dandruff or something like that, and he was scratching like a cat in a washing machine at his head. As soon as he got some skin, he'd quickly pop it into his mouth, band-aid fingers and all and start munching on it. It shocked the crap out of me. I mean I had seen some pretty strange things happening in that class, but this topped the cake.

Eventually we got R-kun to stop by putting in "Back to the Future II" so he could watch it. He loves movies so we typically spend half the class watching English movies. We finished Back to the Future II in that class, and so we started part III. We'll finish it and hopefully we'll get to watch "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" the animated series for our next week's class.

R-kun and K-kun are two of the greatest kids but they sure take the energy out of you. And their homeroom teacher looks like a pale ghost of a woman. She's constantly got to be with them and the only time she gets a break is when the English or Math teachers come to teach a lesson. I feel sorry for her.