Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Shock and then a Shock

Yesterday was sankanbi at J's school, a kind of open house for the mothers. So I went and stood for an hour in the back of the class sweating like a half dozen pigs (yes, no airconditioners in Japanese schools). Japanese women do not sweat, btw. They don't. Oh, they complain of the heat but they look radiant! Me? The hair that is not glued to my forehead is stringy and frizzy from the humidity. My shirt is soaked through and all my friends are trying not to stand too close to me.

Yes, angles, and parallelagrams (which you notice I can't even spell in English) and oh look, J forgot his triangles (sigh). After the class us mothers have to go clean the toilets. Oh yea. The kids' toilets. Most of the mothers deftly duck out and attend to the window duty. Which is fine. I'm the PTA mom this year so I figure it is my cross to bear. I bear it well. Then we sit in the heat at our child's desk and listen to the teacher talk for another hour.

I couldn't help noticing all the papers hanging out of J's desk, funny...what is that bag tied to the side also stuffed with junk? Quietly, carefully I pick through it all while feigning interest in the teacher's lecture on summer vacation homework. I swear I am inches away from crying. I can't actually clean anything because lo and behold the drawers are actually stuck! Stuck from the crap he has crammed in there. Teacher finishes and says they have a video of camp and we'll view that down the hall. I quickly pry open the drawers and am in shock, oh those tears are close now. All the other mothers are nodding at me with big sad eyes...poor Terrie. I don't think I just begin pulling out everything that is not a school book and filling bags. The mothers discreetly start handing me bags. I fill three and my giant purse. I sniff as I shuffle off down the hall to watch the video.

When I get home I clean off the kitchen table and unload everything. Then I cry! There are notes from school, old tests, used milk cartons (for experiments I'm told later), pieces of metal and wood (for building things I hear), library books due last year, a gazillion erasers and pencils and ta dah! the triangles that he couldn't find for his lesson.

All in all I didn't blow up too bad. I think J was more frightened I would. Maybe he felt for my embarrassment. At least I hope so. Then...just when I'm convinced... my gosh this child is going to turn into one of those garbage people who can't throw anything away...what am I to do!? I come across a book he was given that day. It seems he won an award for a science project he did last summer. He was like one out of ten in the entire prefecture to get the award and his name on the back of these study books all the children get for summer.

The experiment awarded was an ant farm but raised in that blue gel stuff. It was interesting and fun and we made lots of neat observations like how they buried all their dead in one tunnel and how when things got really busy and nervous there were two big ants that would guard this little baby ant. In the end we committed what is in effect ant genocide. The gel began to break down and it just got too sticky. Then there was the outbreak of the pink mould. It was quite a horror show after we had really gotten to know and love the little guys. This year will not involve living things I'm sure. Here's the certificate.

So...yea, yesterday was quite a day.

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