Friday, March 7, 2008

Bubbles, Lord. Bubbles.

Each night, after discarding our work clothes and exhaling a deep sigh of appreciation for another completed day, Sherry and I take the time to describe to one another the highlight of our day. This shining moment can be anything as obvious and noteworthy as receiving a promotion or anything as small and seemingly insignificant as catching the early train home. This exercise serves two basic and fairly apparent functions. Firstly, it guarantees that Sherry and I consistently and actively share, listen to, and discuss the trivial details of our independent lives. After all, sharing and absorbing these fine points helps ensure we continue evolving together, as a couple, as we have for the past eleven years. Secondly, this ritual forces us to think optimistically and take note of the elevating moments in life, no matter how slight or overshadowed by the discouraging they may be at times. This practice has proven particularly important lately, as repeated behavioral issues with a few of my students have pushed me near the brink of madness. (Sensei doesn’t like to be spit on, hit with your sweaty socks or pinched on the wiener. Stop it.) While our daily exercise is customarily limited within the tight circle of our small family, today’s high point was unusually poignant for me, and I feel the urge to share not just with my wife but also with whoever should be so inclined to click on and read this long-winded blog site. During one of my few breaks today – my deeply cherished reprieves from teaching when I can plan lessons, scribble notes for possible blog entries or simply stare blankly at the wall – a chunky little boy with dirty cheeks and marshmallow hands wandered away from his mother and into my classroom. He teetered in the doorway like a sleepy bear cub, looked briefly at me, then lumbered toward the corner and began punching buttons and turning knobs on my Sanyo boom box. After watching with feigned interest for a few seconds, I stood and shuffled slipper-footed over to my prop basket where I keep a cache of assorted colorful toys to distract and lure children into behaving like model, English-speaking Japanese citizens. Many of the props rarely work, But surely, I thought, I can find something to capture this small boy’s attention before he breaks something. Grabbing a bottle of bubbles, I shuffled over to him and began mixing the little wand vigorously through the solution. At the sound of the click click clicking of my stirring, he turned. I smiled, almost maniacally, and held the circular opening to my lips and released a steady stream of breath. As anticipated, the bubbles came out the other end in a uniformed procession before chaotically disbanding across the room. Unbeknownst to me, this routine tactic I employ almost daily had never, never, ever been witnessed by this little boy. From the look on his face you would have thought the Heavens opened up and Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny descended on sea horses and began shooting gummy bears from their fingertips. I have never in my life seen such incapacitating glee from a human being. The squeal this boy released was born of all things holy, nice and sugary. As the bubbles fell and began meeting their demise, his face turned to uncertainty, and he backed away just beyond their reach. I dipped the wand once more and blew, this time spinning beneath the falling bubbles, Julie Andrews like, to assure him they wouldn’t cause harm. I blew the next batch directly above his head. Reassured now, he raised his chin upward, closed his eyes with the profound serenity of someone passing through the Pearly Gates, and let the swirling bubbles wash over him. Smile. In several weeks the sakura – or cherry blossoms – will begin blooming in southernmost Japan. From there they will make their way north like a raging forest fire. As the blossoms’ short lives come to an end after a mere two weeks on exhibition, they will fall from the trees, carry on the wind and, in a flurry, engulf elated passersby. I like to think that my first sakura experience will be comparable to this boy’s first encounter with bubbles. Even if it isn’t, that’s how I hope to remember it.

1 comment:

Marie said...

you think a pinched weiner is bad, a 5-yr old putting HIS weiner on you was probably my most mortifying moment so far....i yelled "thats it, sit out!" and pointed to the corner like he was a dog. he didn't understand, so i instead punished him by giving him 1 sticker instead of two....kids go apeshit over stickers. and i go apeshit with weiners on my arm.--marie