I have two posts in my head but this one has been brewing for longer and this ain't soup; if I do not write this soon the magic of the moment will dissipate and I will forget.
Momo means "peach" in Japanese and the student in Class "3Z" who sits in the front row reminds me of one. She is gorgeous: she has a peach coloured blush to her checks, maybe from her Asian toned skin, round manga eyes that are so innocent, a fine figure and plush lips. Basically, she is breathtakingly beautiful though she could use a little height and, too me, still looks so young which means - she won't lose the look until she is 70. Oh, the horrors of being a white woman.
Momo is beautiful and with all that you can just imagine how much I hated teaching her. Whenever Momo walked into my class these past 16 weeks, she has had the look of a civilian entering a lion's den. An untamed lion. With a spike collar. And razor sharp claws. And bad breath. And - you get the picture.
And while teaching- oh the distraction! I would be saying something, "The future tense in English is...." Momo dares to look at me and I meet her eyes. She looks down at her desk and I can feel her panic. I loose my train of thought.
I almost never call on students. I always say sorry when I do and the Japanese teacher's can not understand this. "Just ask the kids that like to talk if you feel bad."
Fuck you! I was a kid that likes to talk (now I am a semi-old person) but I hated it when teacher's called on me. "If I knew the answer I would raise my hand! Leave me alone."
So Momo's fear could not be that... I could not understand. I asked her several times... nothing. She would look away and I honestly felt like a monster. I must be ! I scare peachy girls! bfg was no BFG.
This last semester has been very difficult and odd. The third year students only have three weeks of class whereas I have seven weeks with my first years. So from Day one, I was prepping my third years for their exam while prepping for first year classes. The rhythms do not jive and it has been difficult to keep up.
Considering how successful my Mega Hanko review classes were, where I am basically the Hanko Prostitute giving the kids 5, 10, 15, 50 even! hanko I thought it would be great to do it again.
Then Momo and the other "really shy kids" that stare at me with the Look-of-Terror came to mind: Mega Hanko is Mega Scary. How could I get them into it...?
Walking into class Tuesday the kids found a POSCA marker and a stack of scrap paper on their desks. "Some questions I will say SPEAK and you have to say the answer. Some questions I say WRITE and you have to write it down and wave it in the air. Ready...."
It took her fifteen minutes but Momo eventually picked up the marker, wrote the answer on the paper and, I still can't believe it, she tried! I almost gave her a thousand hanko on the spot. But it was not fair; she was not the first one to do so and Team Supersonic got the points.
But... three questions later and she was not just trying, she was going at it: writing fast, talking with her team mates, looking things up in the book. I tried my best not to beat my chest and howl - IT WAS WORKING.
And then - even now writing this, I can not express it right... dam you words!! I love you but in this I am failing... I feel so relieved that I am NOT a monster -- And then, she laughed.
Yeah, she was having fun. Looking for the answer, trying to write it down and answer, disappointed when someone else beat her team to the punch, thrilled when her team got their hanko.
I did not say a word to her and I hid everything that was happening inside. Especially my third years, I love them. I feel guilty that it took me this long to find a venue for Momo, my peach girl but I know she will always be my yardstick. Whenever I have a student in a class that I can't reach, no matter what I do, I have to remember Momo - that sometimes something so simple - like changing the way a student express themselves from the spoken to written word - can change everything; make me a better teacher and, more importantly, make the Momo's out there smile.
- and that my friends is my Tarzan moment.