Back in Kindergarten

The big event today was the trip to the Sumire Kindergarten. I remembered it with some trepidation from two years ago when I was so nervous and really, really didn’t want to go. I was deathly afraid that I was somehow going to scar a whole generation of Japanese children for life!

But this time, it was actually a lot of fun. Once again, we had to occupy three groups of kids (2-3, 4 and 5 year olds) with activities. The youngest got the Itsy-Bitsy Spider song in Japanese, the 4-year olds got Old MacDonald Had a Farm in both English and Japanese (which is really fun since Japanese and English animals both speak a different language!), and the 5-year olds (my group) once again got Simon Says in both Japanese and English. It amazes me that at the age of 5, these kids already know quite a bit of English, like various body parts (hand, foot, leg, arm, mouth, nose, etc.) and can actually understand. I sure wish they started language teaching at this age back home. Arvli Ward and I did the game in English and it was great fun.

Then it was lunchtime with the kids! I look back to 2006 and the abject terror I felt at being thrown in with a bunch of kids who could talk rings around me, but this time I knew what to expect and actually had a blast. There’s nothing quite like sitting down at a very tiny table on a very tiny chair, surrounded by 5-year olds every one of which is simultaneously asking you “How do you say <insert word> in English”, “What’s your favorite color” and “Do you like onigiri (rice balls)”! This time I could at least understand what they were saying and answer them. I’m going to remember this year’s excursion more fondly than last time!

After that—believe it or not—there was another activity: Shodo, or Japanese calligraphy. I seem to have lost what little talent I developed two years ago and couldn’t come up with anything as exciting as Kabuki like in ’06. It really is a beautiful art form and I wish I could even sort of do it justice. But then, it was still lots of fun.

And then the bad thing happened: I couldn’t get my speech finished. I was luckily granted a reprieve for another day, so that should help.


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