Recess… (SAVE ME!)

At most of my elementary schools, I play with the kids during their afternoon recess. When it was warmer I went outside and played tag and such, but today I really didn’t want to go outside. Plus, I had a 40 minute bike ride back to the office immediately following recess. I told the kids that I did not want to play outside that day, but was open to staying inside and playing inside games.

The children swarmed around me and grabbed at me, my hands and my clothes. I was actually backed into a corner at one point and I felt a little claustrophobic. Some boys came very near me and were yelling really loudly: “Out-side! Out-side! Out-side!” over and over and over again in my ears. Their voices actually began hurt my ears a little bit. But I stayed calm and told them that I would much rather play inside today.

I was saved when an absolutely adorable little girl from my 2nd grade class took me by the hand and led me into the nurse’s room where some older boys were calmly doing origami.

I was impressed with this girl because she really tried to use English in class that day. When I asked the students if they had any questions for me, the teacher said it was okay for them to ask in Japanese (since they are only 2nd graders). Other students asked me questions in Japanese and then towards the end this girl raised her hand and asked me in clear English, “Are you hungry?” I was quite taken aback! Plus, we had eaten lunch next to one another and spent some time together then too.

But anyways, she led me into the nurse’s room with the boys from another grade. I could see that they were making helmets and frogs and balls out of origami paper. I am not a very artistic person, but it was inspiring to see boys and girls making this paper art. I think there is a certain social stigma about arts and crafts. In general, I think girls are thought to be more creative and artistic while boys are supposed to be more interested in sports. But I loved seeing these Japanese boys and girls doing a creative, artistic activity together.

My little friend and I sat down at the table and she showed me, step-by-step, how to make a helmet. She was a good, patient teacher. I was so happy to be able to make something cool out of paper. Like I said, I am not very good at art so it was very fun to learn from someone so young.

Below is my “helmet” and a piece of paper that says “To Stacy-sensei: Thank You”.



Oh, and I also got a bit of the celebrity treatment in the nurse’s room. While I was sitting and doing origami, many students from all grades came into the room with pieces of paper, notebooks, and pencils. They formed a line and asked me to give them their signature. I think I must have signed my name over 20 times! My signature is messy and not pretty at all, but they were all so happy and amazed to see me do something as simple as sign my name.

I must say that my tastes are much more suited to sitting quietly and learning origami. I’ll take that over being swarmed and cornered by elementary school kids any day. My goodness!


2 Comments to “Recess… (SAVE ME!)”

  1. This story is so cute I cannot stand it. What an adorable sounding little girl! I also think it’s kind of awesome how fascinated they are by you writing your sig.

  2. I know I shouldn’t laugh, but your story of being cornered makes me think of those “how many 5-year-olds could you take in a fight?” quizzes. I’m glad you found a quite corner to do origami and a friend!

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