Snarky – snide and sharply critical. Adj.
I’d rather this blog weren’t a sounding board for my cute and fuzzy internal demons concerning Japan and the culture therewithin, but damnit I want to rant and rave, so something has got to give. I’m not going to preface this with a funny anecdote or an interesting factoid: let’s jump right in. Allyonse!
In the right corner we have shockingly ill equipped co-workers who won’t confront parents and deal with a problem child.
It started a while ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized the abyss this problem had carved out before me. On Wednesdays and Thursdays we have this class of six 6/7 year olds who take a beginner class together. Four boys and two girls make up the class, three little shits filled with pent up energy and misplaced aggression, one shy and bumbling boy who had some serious anxiety for the first month of classes, and two girls who are like nothing better than to put the boys in their place. It’s a minefield where every mine is attached to rats of unusual size and have my name on the trigger.
So when someone put this class together, they told the parents it would be alright if they wanted to drop their kids off a little early and they could do their homework. Good selling point, I can’t fault anyone there. If I were the parent of one of these mobile migraine producers I would adore an hour off frim them in addition to school. But this “little early” has turned into 45 minutes of after school daycare for the Japanese teacher we have working here where she has to be there to keep an eye on these ankleshankers who’re one conch and a deserted island from a reenactment of Lord of the Flies.
The parents drop them off, they run around a classroom and the school sounds like the mosh pit at a Taylor Swift concert, and we have to keep an eye on them while we wait for the proper class time. It interrupts other classes, ties up the Japanese instructor so that she can’t really get other work done, and just winds them up for the actual class where they are almost uncontrollable.
And no one will tell the parents that they’re being arseholes.
I asked “why?”* to my co-workers, and the answer was basically “We don’t judge them”. After my silent incredulity echoed through the room for a moment, I followed that up with “Aaaaaaanddd??” Apparently none of my Japanese co-workers will confront the parents and tell them not to do this and talk with their kids about their behaviour because…they don’t think it’s their place.
Well whoop-de-fracking-do. Let me go find my horse drawn carriage and cane and we can work this out like proper civilized folk in Victorian England! Honestly, you are the teacher. The children are behaving badly. The parents are being inconsiderate. You go and tell them not to do this, have a nice calm chat with their child dangling over boiling lava about behaving properly because we are not a boarding school for troubled jungle savages! Un-fracking-believable.
But none of them will, I guarantee this. My manager is non-confrontational to the point where I need to hunt her down to fill out paperwork, the Japanese instructor has a very socially convenient platform for her high horse hidden somewhere out of sight, and the counselor who should probably be mentioning this to the parents when they show up won’t say anything because she won’t take an off schedule meeting with a man about the female equivalent of a horse without permission signed in triplicate.
But oh ho ho, things don’t end there. In the left corner we have Japanese parents who like to come in and tell us their grub “doesn’t like men”. The fact that the larvae almost invariably turns out to be a male, they have a parent who is male(shocking, I know), they have friends who are male, and probably a small dog that keeps it’s family jewels on the exterior completely escapes them. Their perfect little angel doesn’t like men so we HAVE to use female teachers for this kid.
This is of course a logistical nightmare, because the foreign teachers at The Company are 80% men** and this prefecture and four closest prefectures don’t have a female foreign instructor. As a result, we need to put the kid into a class all on their own and whenever it comes time to teach them a foreign instructor lesson we need her in there with me to get this done legally and without anyone getting cross about contractual obligations. The contract says we give the larvae a gaijin lesson once a month so that’s what we have to do.
It’s nuts. And with the exception of one kid who has a problem with anyone who isn’t this one lady, it’s just a giant hand wave and dust cloud for the fact that the parents are discriminating bigots. But that’s OK! So we encourage this kind of behaviour and mentality by catering to their every whim and make sure Little Timmy has everything arranged just right for him so that he doesn’t freak out when he discovers his sensei has an X and Y chromosome!!!
And like before, no one will tell the parents that this isn’t acceptable. They’ve probably been to a half dozen different schools saying the same thing, had their kid enrolled until it became too much of a headache, and then rolled on out to a different school to rinse and repeat this ridiculous pantomime.
And just top off this quickly derailing boxing metaphor, I found out that there is a railway company that recently had a very important cat die. But wait, there’s more! If you order the next five minutes you can discover this cat was a Stationmaster! And that through shinto religious tradition this cat has become a goddess.
So a few years ago this train company was in a financial sinkhole with no way out. Their hail mary? Promoting a cat living at one of the stations to “Stationmaster” as an advertising gimmick. Turns out people really like patting cats before getting on a train, and they enjoy a cat in a fancy hat even more. It saved the company, and her death was such a great loss they are “training her replacement” as we speak. And does anyone think this is strange or weird? Nope, it’s just me and my rapidly declining resolve.
But before this all sounds like my sanity is balancing at the edge of a cliff***, there have been a lot of good experiences out here. The paperwork, red tape and borderline delusional mentalities aside, I’m enjoying my time here. I’ve got friends, I know the town I’m in pretty well, there’s a dog daycare near my house that lets me drop by and pat some of the dogs, a couple restaurants I really like going to, and a group of geeks I meet a few times a month to geek out with****. I’m financially stable at the moment, I’m not stressed at work, I’m losing weight and I don’t feel isolated and alone like I did in China. My apartment’s shit and I still bang and crash into things like a drunken mastodon because nothing is sized for me, but thus far the good outweighs the bad by a good margin.
Although the crazy does outweigh both combined by leaps and bounds….