Sometimes I wonder what goes on inside of kids’ heads – actually peoples’ heads in general. In elementary school lunches, I always eat with a different class. Depending on how the teacher decides to set up the classroom, I’ll eat in a cluster of 4 or 7, in a circle, or in front with everyone facing me. In some instances, the kids talk and ask so many questions, I barely have the time to eat my lunch, and in other cases, the kids are too shy to even speak to one another. For today’s lunch, I was placed in a cluster of whispers. They seriously spent the first 18 minutes whispering and talking to each other about me, directly in front of me. I don’t know what they were thinking because – they knew I could understand them, and they saw me looking at them while they were whispering and talking about me. They were discussing something about what questions to ask me, and who should ask it, and no that’s a bad question, just ask it anyways, no you ask it, no you ask it, are you really going to ask that question?!?! Meanwhile, I’m laughing in my head and thinking this is the weirdest lunch ever.
After lunch: With the weather getting colder and colder, and the schools finally getting their source of heat from old-school modern stoves (I witnessed one being installed in the teachers’ room today – a 3 man job connecting pipes, venting the soot in a chimney-like fashion out the nearest window), there are fewer and fewer children playing outside. On a normal elementary school day (and if I’m not already reserved by a group of students), I’ll meander over to the gym or playroom, and invite myself into a game of tag, handball, basketball, or dodge ball. Today though, a group of third grade boys were on their way out, borrowing mitts and bats and balls, to play baseball!! I immediately asked if I could play with them, and eventually organized a pickup game by telling the kids to go to first, second, short, third, and catch. They kept on switching and getting mad at the pitchers, so me and my crazy arm became the all-time pitcher. It was fantastic; these kids wouldn’t swing at strikes but would wail away the balls over their head. They kept on talking smack to each other, trying to get me to choose a side. There was the ‘I’m so strong kid,’ the daydreamer, the kid who actually played, the kid who ran with the bat, the kid who refused to wear a mitt, the easy out (I gave him 6), the kid who was determined to get a homerun every at bat ~ dang I miss softball!!
As if my play day couldn’t get better, Thursday nights are taiko (drum) nights. I’ve been showing up before the grownup practice session to watch the elementary school kids learn new beats. Sitting in the corner and bruising up my legs during this time has come in handy as I’ve quietly come to learn the main patterns. Tonight, they let me join in on the ‘nagare’ or the thing where they go from drum to drum and do the ‘don-tsu-ku-don!!!’ The only thing is that my left arm is so stupidly slow; it throws everything off, especially when the beat speeds up. Needs a lot of work but I’m addicted!!