The kids came back on Saturday. They came on Saturday instead of Monday or Friday because that way the parents could come to the opening ceremony. I stood at the reception desk with a couple of now-second-years (just entered 8th grade) and as each parent came in they gave them a pamphlet and said Congratulations. I really didn't get the whole thing. At my middle school they gave us a dress code and schedule and told us not to mess up and here's how the cafeteria works. In Japan they have a brass band, school song, national anthem, etc etc. Congratulations, the natural passage of time is occuring? huh? My friend Elizabeth who is a preschool teacher said the teachers there said the same thing, and it made her confused in the same way.
Today there were no classes, but I cleaned after school with the new first years. They were so confused. Which broom do I use? Where do we sweep? Where is the trashcan? Where is the faucet to fill the bucket with water? How long does cleaning last? They were also very nervous looking, and it seemed like they didn't want to make any mistakes. Awww.
When students come into the teachers room in Japan, first they have to knock, open the door, say "Excuse me, I'm so and so from so and so class, here for so and so" bow and come in. Most kids take half a second to do all this and mumble and rush in, and the teachers are mostly ok with that. But since the first years were learning how to do it for the first time, they were so careful. Each one of them had to practice coming in so that they could get a tour and learn where all their teachers' desks were for when they came to talk to them. There are 35 kids per class, and a good deal of them would stop completely and do a full bow. All the teachers watched with amusement. They knew they would be jaded before too long, and for now they were enjoying the innocence.
Tomorrow classes start for real and I'm so relieved.