Working with first year primary school students is a lot like being a sheet of tissue paper. The kids seem to enjoy wiping, throwing, spilling or somehow conveying dirt, food, saliva, beverages, and other stuff that would make a petri dish bloom with a thick fuzz ranging the full spectrum of the rainbow.
Today a few kids insisted on licking my sweater, tried to kancho me (swift and merciless revenge was exacted, and the little demon-spawn thought twice before approaching this gaijin with anything other than good intentions), and this one, well, he did something that took me off guard..
During lunch at shogakko, the children push their desks into groups of 4 and each day, they take turns at donning scrubs and masks and serving the school lunch. I am usually shown to a seat, and spend my time playing with them or talking to them about whatever they're interested in that particular moment.
This kid was asking me some questions when he started digging around his nose and pulled out a choice nugget. Fascinated, he decided to test its viscosity by repeatedly poking it against a chair and stretching it out. It was quite sticky and stretchy, like the cheese that strings off of a freshly baked pizza. After a minute, he decided to roll it around the table, as if kneading a lump of dough.
Then he caught me watching, and I could see the light bulb blink on behind his dark, evil eyes. There was never any doubt of what he planned to do, and we locked eyes like rival samurai in the midst of a battle. He extended his loaded finger, this loathsome bayonet of terror, and charged. As I caught his hand, I pulled out my keitai with my other one and switched on the camera.
"Wow, that's a great booger, do you mind if I take a picture?", I asked. His puny 6 year old brain was short-circuited by the sight of a camera and my question, much the same way a magician uses his props to draw attention away from what he doesn?t want people to see, and he forgot about his wicked deed, reprogrammed by the desire to be photographed. The other kids, of course, then screamed to have their pictures taken as well, and I obliged them, grateful to pay this price instead of having some little brat's booger smeared into my clothing.
So if you teach at elementary or nursery school, remember the camera on your cell phone. Properly used, you can easily change your fate by using it to misdirect the little bastards! Just remember to lock the keys on the phone just in case one of them manages to swipe it from you.