From: Peter Rivard
Date: Wed Sep 25, 2002 11:59:15 PM Japan
To: newsletter
Subject: She's got the devil in her

Hi, all,

     Just an anecdote about a funny kid today. One of my most spirited girls pulled a repeat of a stunt she tried last year. Pairs of kids were making up short dialogs following the pattern "It's adjective for someone to verb," as in "It's hard for me to understand Japanese." I was checking half the room, and Mrs. Sugimoto was checking the other half. As the kids prepared, darling Ayaka came up to ask if she and her partner were in my half or Mrs. Sugimoto's--as it happened, she was in mine. She smiled and went back to her seat. Ayaka and Misa are both very good English students, and they put on one of the longer dialogs. As it happened, I'm pretty sure that Misa didn't entirely understand the dialog Ayaka had put her up to, and I'm 100% sure, from past experience, that Ayaka did. The Misters are teachers, and Mayuko is another girl in class.

Misa thought she was saying something a bit risqué with the kissing business, but I know her well enough to know that she was thinking "sleep with" in some sense that, while mildly against the rules, actually involves sleeping. Ayaka, who has demonstrated before that she understands the connotation of the term, has almost perfected her look of innocence since the last time she tried this--in fact, what really killed me was that she looked almost too innocent, certainly too innocent for Ayaka. I responded with a Japanese comment that has about the same tone and meaning as, "You are very naughty girls." Misa understood "naughty" in the sense of a small child misbehaving and thus didn't understand why it applied to them, and Ayaka took it as, well, as a teenager who'd just tricked her friend into saying something "dirty" should take it. Half a minute later, I was trying to listen to the next pair, when I saw that Misa was still trying to figure out why I'd called them "naughty," and Ayaka, not about to explain anything to her, was bursting into a huge, proud grin. I couldn't keep a straight face; I just shook my head at her, then asked the group I'd been trying to hear to start again.

If Ayaka were a hamster.

     I love these kids! I love working in a school where this is the absolute height of naughtiness for 14 and 15 year old girls (the boys don't get much worse), too. It's also a real treat to be in a school small enough to get to know kids like this pretty well.

Peter

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