Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Getting in Trouble in Japan

Today I learned a new Japanese word that I wish I hadn't: だいじけん (daijiken). It means "big [bad] event or happening."

So I often get invited to play dodgeball after lunch with the kids. And it's hard for me to play softly, so I reserve my energy and throw the balls with all my might at the junior high kids, who can take the hits. I know what you're thinking - no, I didn't take out a little kid (though I have done that before). Instead, I threw the ball hard at the j.h. boy and it was a good throw, sailing through the air chest high. But it cruised right past him and kept on going, the full length of the gym. It maintained its height over the stage and right into the [plastic] "stained glass" artwork the kids had made for the previous year's graduating class. The stained glass is made of thin colored plastic and is backlit at all the assemblies and events. It looks pretty nice, unless it has a hole in it.

[second panel in, lower left]

At the time it wasn't too big a deal - it could later be easily fixed with cellophane tape. So we strung the net across the stage (the fatal flaw the first time around) and kept playing. Afterwards, the kids streamed back to their classrooms and told the story "Guess what David-sensei did!?"

It didn't take but a few minutes for a teacher to take charge and make the kids gather together for an apology to the principal. And I had to go, too. We all filed into the teachers' room together and one of the j.h. kids reluctantly stepped up to explain what happened. I think I was supposed to speak, but I really didn't know what to say, so I stayed quiet.

[I got lucky in avoiding all the intricate patterns]

I understood what the j.h. student was saying and I was flabbergasted that she never said my name. She absorbed the blame into the entire group, which was very Japanese (and nice) of her. And the teachers didn't ask who did it - it was the responsibility of the whole group to remember to string the protective net across beforehand.

I asked later if I could help fix the stained glass, but a teacher told me it might happen tomorrow or Friday because the kids need some time 'to think about it'. I feel terrible, of course, because this was completely my fault. We were playing in a safe direction, then switched lengthwise and nobody remembered the net. They're kids. We were all high-strung and having a good time. It's easily fixable. I don't think they'll mope too long, though - inside they all know whose fault it really was.


erin said...

I think it says something about my current state of mind that this story made me laugh. A lot.

I can't believe you let a little kid take the wrap for you! Way to go!

Anonymous said...