This week my schedule changed a bit and I don't have one of my cutest classes anymore. It was the "Baby Rhythmic" class, but I always called them my Rhythmic Babies. The Rhythmic Babies were all 1 to 3 years old and came with their mothers for a 40 minute class. I was pretty much the entertainment. If they were bad their mothers took care of them, and I didn't have to plan for the class because the woman who plays the piano told me what to do. It was great (except for my singing). I would start a song or an activity and then walk around giving each child special attention. When I came near a Rhythmic Baby, the mother would turn their kid's head in my direction, being like "Look, here comes Meg!" as if I were a celebrity. And I'd always say "touch!" and the kids would high-five me. It was adorable.
The mothers must have had an unspoken competition to see who could dress their kid in the weirdest outfit for the class. While a few Rhythmic Babies wore reasonable playclothes, others arrived in everything from Hawaiian shirts and visors to pressed party dresses. One little girl strolled in one day in black boots, zebra-striped leggings, a black and silver star-adorned t-shirt, and a bright pink scarf. However the best outfit I witnessed was worn by a one year old boy. First, when I say outfit, I mean that he wore a bathing suit. It was a one-piece girls' style suit, and it was designed to make him look like a watermelon. The bottom was rind-green-colored with watermelon rind patterns, and the rest of the suit was red with black seed spots. This would have been ridiculous enough, but no, the kid was also wearing a hat. It looked like a ladies' swim cap, also made to look like a rind, and it completed the entire watermelon ensemble. It was adorable.
There were some super cute moments in this class, like when a mother told me that her daughter had walked for the first time ever that same morning, and then she put the girl down and let her walk over to me. The girl was too young to speak during the class, but she'd clap along and know what was going on. I would lay out colorful alphabet magnets and ask the children one by one to come find a letter. After they grabbed one, I would lift them up so they could put it on the board. At first, I intended to have the parents lift their own kids (I didn't want to accidentally drop a Rhythmic Baby in front of the class) but even if the kids were shy, the parents would shove them towards me. Then, after putting a letter on the board, the kids would high-five me (of course) and run back to their parents. The last class I taught, I lifted the particular girl who had just learned to walk and then put her back down after she had put her letter on the board. Instead of running back to her mother, she just stood there hugging me. I high-fived her again as all of the parents said "cute" in Japanese, and the girl just stood there smiling at me until her mother carried her back to her spot. It was adorable.
When we played London Bridge, a mother would help me make the bridge, while the other parents and children walked underneath our arms. The little one and two year olds would duck like their parents, even though they were not in danger of bumping their heads. We'd have "sway and sing" time where the parents would each, well, sway and sing while holding their kids' hands or carrying their kids in their arms. One mother had two sons, so the older one would sway and sing with me. Being a rambunctious boy, he'd violently swing his arms (and mine) back and forth while the other mothers laughed. The funniest sway and swing though was when a mother with twin one-year-old girls came. The girls were very tiny and barely spoke, but the more outgoing twin was brave enough to sway and swing with me. She'd never come to the class before, so I assumed she'd just stand there holding my hands in shock. When the music started, however, she immediately leaned to the left and lifted her right leg up above her head like a little monkey. Slowly she put it back down and moved on to her left leg. Imagine a tiny girl holding my hands and lifting her legs like a monkey. All of the parents were looking at us and laughing hysterically. It was adorable.
So no more Rhythmic Babies. Luckily my Favorite class is still in tact. Yesterday, the little girl was absent so My Favorite boy had a private lesson. Before he arrived, I was in the waiting area talking to my last five-year-old student and meeting his little sister. I asked this boy how old his sister was, and he said "zero," though his mother later clarified that she was eleven months old. She clearly just learned to walk, because she stood in the center of the room looking stiff and unbalanced, just staring at everyone. Then, out of nowhere, she'd lift her arms up and make a noise like a dinosaur. I'm not exaggerating. "Fgroahhh!" Everyone was saying "cute!" and laughing. I tell you this because I was kneeling on the floor playing with the cute dinosaur girl when My Favorite student arrived. He ran in the door, pointed right at the dinosaur girl, and asked loudly in Japanese "What's that?" Makiko and I couldn't stop laughing. It was adorable.
Each week I have a drawing on the board for my Favorite class. When they come in, they either point out what's missing ("where's the sun?") or ask me to draw something new. Then I teach them the word in English. For example, a few weeks ago My Favorite asked for a "hikoki" and luckily I knew it was an airplane and drew it. Last week he was wearing a shirt with a fire truck on it, and so I drew a firetruck on the board for him. The girl had trees on her shirt, so we drew those too. Well this week I had the airplane and firetruck from before (along with a tree, the sun, a flower and a spider) and My Favorite immediately requested I draw three cars and a bus. After, he started shouting "fūsen! fūsen!" and I thought "What's that?" I gave him the marker and he drew about twenty circles with lines coming out of them, all in a row, crying "fūsen! fūsen!" as he drew. After class, I asked Makiko what "fūsen" means, and she told me "fūsen" is "balloon". My Favorite drew a row of balloons on the board! It was adorable.
The rest of the class was great. He has a bit of an issue with personal space and was sitting inches from my face while I flashed cards or held up toys, but that's adorable too. He also got a haircut, so he looks a little less wild than he did before. I'm sure it will grow out. He still runs around wanting things his way, and he hates songs. When I played the Hello Song for him yesterday, he immediately started running in a circle around the classroom while he sang. I chased him (I have no dignity while teaching three year olds) and he laughed hysterically until the song finished. Then he surprised me by being wonderful during the rest of the lesson. He said things that other five and six year olds struggle with ("two red apples" "one yellow banana" etc) and he put the alphabet magnets in order on the board himself. It was adorable.