Wednesday, April 11, 2007

and life goes on...

You know when you plan and look forward to an event or trip and when it is finally over you're not sure what to do next? I had that feeling Tuesday morning. But all the things still to be done came back to my mind quickly. Like my first English class in the afternoon. Yes, in the midst of everything, I am going back to teaching English one afternoon a week. I took a break last year a week before my due date. I thought I was being so clever to keep myself busy right up to my due date but Natsuki came two weeks late so I was bored out of my mind waiting for my labor to start. I actually wanted to be in pain, which has to be a first for me.

Anyhoo! I did take Emi to school Tuesday morning. After she was dressed and ate breakfast, we checked her school bag to make sure all the right things were in there, including her SpongeBob SquarePants handkerchief. Her school supplies have turned into such a mishmash of characters. We left the house around 7:55am and walked around the corner to the next street over to meet all the other 54 kids from our neighborhood who go to the same elementary school. Yes, 54 kids and 10 of them are in first grade. On Monday, everyone met 10 minutes earlier and divided up the kids into groups to walk to school. Each group has a 5th or 6th grader as a leader (hancho) with 4-5 other younger children to watch out for. On Tuesday, I met Emi's hancho and she led our group as we walked to school together. A couple of the other first grade girl's grandmas came and they were unbelievably annoying. One grandma asked questions nonstop from the moment she got there. I could tell the older girls didn't know what to say after awhile. Then another grandma, whose granddaughter is in our group, called out instructions to everyone as we walked to school. "Keep to the left, keep to the left, we're crossing, crossing, crossing, stop, stop, the light is green, hurry, hurry, RUN, RUN, STOP, STOP!". Like that, on and on. Emi kept looking at me with wide eyes. When we got to school, Emi changed into her inside shoes (uwagutsu) and another little girl was waiting for her and they walked to their class together.

I'm getting ahead of myself in order of events for this post, but today (which is the last day I go with her) when we arrived at the school and she had put her inside shoes on, she suddenly turned and started to cry. I was totally caught off guard by this. Emi's been wanting to go to elementary school since last year and before school started she was counting down the days. We've been getting reports from her about all the fun she's been having from the first two days so I just didn't see this coming. I tried giving her a hug and asking her why she's crying. I tried encouraging her about school and how much fun she will have today. I tried being a little bit stern with her but nothing seemed to calm her down. She was clinging to me and doing her quiet cry. One of her friends was waiting for her and seemed pretty concerned. Finally, a teacher came by and said I could go. I have no idea what happened after that and althought I was worried, I knew leaving was the best thing to do.

When it was time to pick her up, I waited to ask her teacher about how she was during the day. He said he hadn't seen her crying and that she was fine during all the classes. Then he said that maybe I should talk to her if I wanted to know more about it. I got the feeling that he thought I was babying her and I should *know* that we don't do that in elementary school. So I learned an important lesson there. I did talk to Emi about it when we got home and she seems like she understands that I can't go to school with her and that because she's a big girl she gets to go to elementary school so she needs to take responsibility like the big girl she is. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. Sigh, there's always something, isn't there!?

Back to my English class, I was tired before I went and I wasn't really sure how it was going to go. Some students are new and some I've taught before. Also, I hadn't really had a chance to get out my materials so I planned to review and see what everyone remembered. I was a little nervous before I started but everything went really well. I forgot how much teaching energizes me. This year the class balance is very good. There are 8 kids in the beginner class, 4 kids in the second level class who I taught before so they're all at the same level, and 2 in the third level class. At the end of the class all the moms gave me a some presents for my girls which was really nice.

Chikara watched all the kids while I was gone and will continue to do so every Tuesday afternoon. I wrote out a schedule for each of our kids with detailed instructions for him. He is very good with helping out all the time but left by himself with the girls, he tends to forget what's coming next and then the whole evening gets off track. I once left Emi & Misaki with him for ten days while Sakura and I went back to Canada to do some shopping when I was almost 7 months pregnant with Natsuki. All three of them were alive and well when I came back so obviously he can handle a few hours each week.

Another thing I like about teaching English is being able to take a break from being "Mommy" for a bit. I really appreciate the girls more when I get back. Also it gives me a chance to be "Sarah" and regain a little bit of personal identity. I don't know about you, but I find that my identity as a woman is always connected to someone else. Like Chikara's wife or Emi' mommy or Alynne's daughter. I like all these people so it's okay, but sometimes I forget who I am personally so it's nice to have this opportunity every week to be me, apart from everyone else.

Tomorrow I *need* to tackle the house. It has gotten totally out of control and we're almost out of clean clothes. The weather is supposed to be good tomorrow and then it might rain for a couple of days so tomorrow is do or die!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah
Everything sounds like it's going very well. I definatly understand what you mean about your identity. I'm either a Chapman which i will always be ;) and it is always a compliment when someone recognizes my last name. Or i'm shelley's sister since she is older than me, or even now i'm bryan's girlfriend. You've seen bryan, he's not that easy to miss so i get that one the most. But when you do your own thing even if it's just one afternoon a week it's really nice for your students and their families to know you as sarah the teacher and not by those other identities. Plus i dont think you have anything to worry about, Chikara seems like an excellent father and he will do amazingly well with your kids!
Love Kim

Trisha said...

You hit the nail on the head for me! Recently, I started teaching English again too and my husband kept asking why and the only thing that I could come up with is because I like it. But after eading this post I realize why I like it for the same reasons you do- it energizes me and makes me a better mommy. Thanks for the reminder!

Lily said...

Ditto about why its nice to teach a bit while raising children. Even just going to work gives a bit of personal space that is difficult to get at home eh!

You are a strong woman. I could just imagine how hard it was to have your little girl crying- growing can be tough on both parent and child.

Mom said...

I loved being able to teach piano lessons at home when you were all little. I put on real clothes and makeup, then picked up kids from school plus a high school girl to babysit in the other part of the house while I taught for 2 0r 3 hours unimpeded in the livingroom like a grownup, using words that lasted more than 1 syllable. I could hear if there were any problems in the house, and I was there for emergencies, but little upsets - not my problem! Plus, I made more money than if I had worked all day in a department store, and I didn't have to work during school holiday seasons. It was perfect for me until you were all in school, then I couldn't spend time with you when you came home from school, so that's when I finished my degree and started my day job! I'm glad you have the opportunity to teach, and I'm so amazed at the job you do teaching English - you are a natural.

Hannah said...

I know what you mean about teaching energizing you. I used to teach piano lessons and I would absolutely dread it before my students would come. But after their lessons were over I was so excited about their next lesson I could hardly stand it. I feel that way about doing Arbonne now, so I guess it's more about having something that's your own, where you feel like you're using all of who you are, not just the "mommy" in you. Besides, I bet you're an awesome teacher. It kinda runs in the family.

Anonymous said...

Hi it's Kim again.
I just thought i'd let you know that i went to a birthday last night for a mutual friend of my and bryans and i was introduced to someone new as Kim, bryans girlfriend. This can be very irritating. But i understand as well that they want to associate me with someone that this person has met so i'm not such a stranger and it seems that they know my personality a bit better because of who i'm with most of the time, bryan of course!
Love Kim

Heidi said...

Those grannies sound like my MIL. Just that "abunai" (danger) would be in between all those words!

She does it all the time, even in places where you are supposed to be quiet, like on a train. I think it lets her "show" to the public that she is the doting, attentive, caring granny.

Isn't being able to work and spend some time away from the kids awesome? I definitely appreciated my job a lot more since I had my kids.