Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Damn, this $hit always happens to me.

Here's a classic. One of those situations when I realize teaching English in a foreign country isnt as easy as the welcome pack makes it seem. I just got home, and I'm writing this with a tall chu-hi fresh in my system.

First of all, I teach kids. Only children. Most the time there's no problem, they don't understand me, their parents don't understand me, I dont understand them, but playing games and making sure everyone takes the right bag home isnt too complicated.

Tonight, luckily, I was "team teaching" with a coworker. TT for short. It's what my company does with extra teachers. He comes, teaches half of my lessons for the day, we both learn new games, techniques, etc. Good times. I happen to be friends with this TT coworker, so even better.

It was an in-and-out operation. Two classes. Two hours of work. I teach the first class, six girls, ages 3-5. Sweet, fun, shy, not too genki. He teaches the next class. Simple.

Well, during my class, as I was doing some game with flashcards, maybe having the kids repeat "triangle, TRIANGLE, square, SQUARE," or whatever, one little girl sitting next to my TT partner, rolls back a little and bumps her head on the short table behind her. No big deal. A simple, "daijabou?" and we've all forgotten about it. Until my TT coworker remembers a note in the school's communication book saying one of the students is possibly a hemophiliac and can't hit her head or mouth.

You need to understand, these notes in the communication book do not come from someone fluent in English. They're usually vague and confusing, and sometimes don't make sense at all.

I ask the TTer to go check who exactly has the supposed "hemophilia." As I go through the rest of the shapes vocabulary he signals back that it is in fact her. The one who bumped her head.

The note reads. "She suffers from kawasaki-byo. She can't run and play games. If she hit her head or mouth it is problem." Then someone highlighted "kawasaki byo" and wrote hemophilia beside it.

No big deal. I hand off the flashcards and go try to call the usual Japanese teacher to see what I should do. I'll ask her if it's a big deal, or if I can keep going as usual.

I go to call the Japanese teacher and no answer.

TTer and I keep going on the lesson. I get all the kids to get their crayons out and sit at the little tables. Suddenly, four year-old "hemophiliac" girls starts nodding off. She falls asleep on her paper. Unusual behavior for her. Panic sets in and I go to call our head offices, who can then call the girls mom. We can find out what's up.

While I'm on the phone with the head office the little girl is totally unresponsive in the TTer's arms. A few flinches. He can't wake her up. He's holding her the way you hold someone who just got shot. I've never seen him this upset. Both of are visibly shaking as we realize this kids life rests in our hands. I tell the head office, if you can't get a hold of the parents call an effin' ambulance. My TT partner is panicking, he's saying, "call an ambulance."

A girl who may or may not have some sort of sickness knocks her head and then can't wake up. We're worried.

Finally, as the TTer tries to get her eyes open, to see if they're rolled back or not, she starts crying. The head office calls me back and says the father is on his way.

The father comes and we can't really communicate anything, except she's sleepy and hit her head and we are "kowai" (scare). He seems totally unphased and not worried at all. He stands outside the door the whole time and finally the TTer picks the girl up and gives her to him. They go home. TT and I are left shaking not knowing what just happened.

Did we over-react? Did the father under-react? What the hell is going on? Why aren't we more prepared for this?

Coming home and Googling "kawasaki disease" has led me to realize nothing that we thought was happening was. Just a sleepy four year-old.


Beth said...

wow. seriously.

You did the best thing. If you hadn't and the kid really did have something else, then it would've been even scarier!!

good for you and enjoy your well deserved chu-hai!! otsukaresama!

maTT said...

Stick to taking care of bunnies.
but you did well.

Was the reason she hit her head in the first place because she was sleepy?

ElizT said...

I sympathise; children can give you the worst scares. You did the normal things but need better help available!

Rebel said...

lordy... sorry you had to go through this, the communication gap always makes things 1000000 times worse.

josh pincus is crying said...

John Travolta claims that his son Jett suffered from Kawasaki Syndrome and it played a part in his death. But he's a Scientologist, so you can't take anything he says seriously.

Kris said...

Your reactions were key, and unmistakably the best possible steps to take. Both of you did wonderfully and that can't be stressed enough!

I mean hemophilia, if it were that, could have easily resulted in brain hemorrhaging and the quick response was praise-worthy!

I love kids, and it freaks me out every time one of them runs into a wall - I would be just as pushed to arms.

Jeannette said...

maTT--- I think she hit her head just leaning back.

Thanks everyone for your comments.

She's alive today. I talked with the JT and she talked with the mom, who doesnt understand why we reacted so much, but she wasnt upset by it. I'm sure the two of them had a nice laugh about the crazy gaijin. My JT said she gets sleepy "when she get surprise." So yeah, whatever that means.

Being in charge of kids is scary.

Jonathan said...

And that's why when i interact with kids i tend not to just put my hands up and try to avoid touching them.

Jeannette said...

I dont understand, is that what you're saying I do?

Jonathan said...

Oh. I wrote that incorrectly. I mean that is what i do.

red-handed said...

Totally sounds like she was acting out. Don't you have a closet at the back of the classroom that you can lock these kids in?