Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Visit from the Kid's Homeroom Teacher

(WARNING: The following is satire)

My humble abode. Today is the day of the Home Conference (diminished 7th fanfare), when the child's homeroom teacher comes to meet the parent(s) at the start of the new school year to get acquainted and touch base.

(Doorbell rings)

Me: (Opens the door) Good afternoon Ms. Homeroom Teacher! (Bows deeply) It's an honor to meet you!
Ms. HT: Good afternoon! (Bows deeply) Forgive the intrusion!
Me: (Bows again) Forgive my troubling you when you're busy! (Places slippers by the step) Please come in!
Ms. HT: Thank you! (Steps up and into the slippers) By the way, your bow was ill-timed, and your intonation was sloppy.
Me: Uh...what...?
Ms. HT: If you're going to provide a suitable example for your child, you're going to have to be more attentive toward such things. Excuse me! (Steps past me...and right on my foot)
Me: YEOWCH!!!!
Ms. HT: (Sighs) Now look, Mr. Minstrel, I realize that, as a foreigner, you are an ignorant barbarian by default, and so I'm compelled to cut you a break, but here in Japan, when a guest steps on your foot, you do not say, "YEOWCH!!!!" You say, "Thank you very much," and then you politely ask to have your foot stepped on again!
Me: Really?
Ms. HT: (Sighs again, this time more impatiently)
Me: Um...thank you very much for stepping on my foot! Won't you be so kind as to do it again?
Ms. HT: Don't mind if I do! (Crunch)
Me: YEEEEOOOWthank you very much for stepping on my FOOOOOT! (arrrgh) Won't you have another go?
Ms. HT: No, it'll do. May I?
Me: By all means! (*whew*) Won't you have a
Ms. HT: I will once I've completed my inspection. Let's see... (Walks around looking at the furnishings with disapproval, runs finger along random surfaces)
Me: I can assure you that we...
Ms. HT: this...? (Looks closely at finger) Um HM! (Holds up finger) See this?
Me: What?
Ms. HT: Mr. Minstrel, this is most definitely what we Japanese refer to as a grain of dust!
Me: Oh, that! But it's only one...
Ms. HT: Irrelevant! (Sighs yet again, whips out little notebook and pen, begins writing) This is just not acceptable.
Me: Um...won't you sit down?
Ms. HT: (Slips notebook back into pocket) Alright, then. (Sits) Wait...this is black tea!
Me: Yes. Twinings Orange Pekoe, to be...
Ms. HT: You've brought an important guest into your house, and you don't even serve them green tea?
Ms. HT: You could have at least given me Earl Grey!
Me: Well...I...uh...could maybe if...
Ms. HT: Too late! (Pulls out notebook again, writes) Do you actually have any green tea? Or Earl Grey?
Me: I think so...over here in the cupboard... (Walks over to cupboard)
Ms. HT: Well, it looks like you have quite a selection of things in there! Is this your house or where Sony Plaza dumps its surplus inventory? (Chuckles, writes in notebook again) Oops, these cushions aren't properly aligned. (Writes some more)
Me: (Trying hard to retain composure) I do have Earl Grey. Would you like some?
Ms. HT: Are you trying to kiss up to me?
Me: Well, no, I was just...
Ms. HT: (Sighs, writes in notebook again) You just don't understand anything, do you? It doesn't matter, I'm not going to drink it anyway. I was just...hey, what's THAT? (Points with pen)
Me: What?
Ms. HT: That box! There! On the third shelf! What is it?
Me: What, this? It's...granola...
Me: "Zounds"?
Ms. HT: (Standing up) Mr. Minstrel, I have tried so very hard to be patient...
Me: Where did you learn "zounds"?
Ms. HT: (Scribbling furiously in notebook) I have given you as much slack as I could...
Me: That's like a Southern Baptist minister sort of word...or Southern Baptist lawyer...
Ms. HT: I even tried to ignore those curtains...that totally uncool shade of green, ugh...and that most definitely looks like an ABBA CD over there... (Shudders)
Me: Or something from a Bugs Bunny cartoon or something...
Me: (Nervous giggle) You said, "Zounds!"
Ms. HT: (Freezes with disbelief, then sighs and starts digging in her bag, shakes head) I'm very sorry, but you've left me no choice. (Pulls a rolled-up, paper object out of her bag)
Me: What?
Ms. HT: (Strides purposefully over to the wall. Unrolls the object to reveal it as a large sticker that says "SUCK" in big, silver, Gothic letters on a black background.) I'm afraid that I am obliged to declare... (Peels paper backing off sticker, sticks it on the wall) ...that until further notice, you officially suck!
Me: Excuse me?
Ms. HT: (Strides over to window, opens it) HEY, EVERYBODY, THE MOODY MINSTREL REALLY SUCKS!!!!!
The Entire Neighborhood: (Sound of windows and doors banging open en masse) YOU SUUUUUUCK!!! OH, GAAAAAAAAAWD!!!! YOU SUCK SO MUUUUUUUUCH!!!!! AAAAH!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! (Sound of windows and doors banging shut en masse)
Ms. HT: (Closes window nonchalantly) Anyway, where were we?
Me: (Totally deflated and melting into a puddle) When did the whole neighborhood turn into Sam Kinison?
Ms. HT: (Seating herself again) I'm here to talk about your kid, remember? You do have a kid in my class, don't you?
Me: Oh, yeah...right. Okay. My kid. (Seats himself heavily)'s...he doing?
Ms. HT: (Suddenly switches into effervescent mode) Oh, he's such a doll! Such a model student! He always tries so hard! Oh, I just love him!
Me: Really?
Ms. HT: Oh, my, yes! He's always so active! So energetic! Always on the go...
Me: Um...he's kind of fat and lazy...
Ms. HT: He always does so well on all his assignments and everything! He's just perfect!
Me: You gave him a C on his last check test...
Ms. HT: He obviously studies so hard!
Me: I can't get him to put his Nintendo DS down for more than ten seconds at a time...
Ms. HT: He's so determined! I can't believe his perseverence! He's such an inspiration!
Me: He's a coward! He cries if you look at him cross-eyed...
Ms. HT: And the other students know it, too! I can't believe how popular he is!
Me: He's come home crying every other day for the past three weeks because the other boys keep picking on him!
Ms. HT: Oh, come on! I'm sure it's all just a phase he's going through! Everything's fine! I just know it! Nothing to worry about! Everything's just hunky-dory wonderful!
Me: Hunky-dor...? Um, Ms. Homeroom Teacher, are you sure we're really talking about the same kid?
Ms. HT: (Giggles) Mr. Minstrel, I said there's nothing to worry about!
Me: But I can tell you he's been having all kinds of prob...
Ms. HT: (More giggles) Mr. Minstrel, are you trying to add to your suckage?
Me: M-meaning?
Ms. HT: (Leans forward) Everything's fine. It's all under control! Life goes on! (Giggles yet again) Was there anything else? If not... (Starts to gather self together)
Me: (Thinks) Wait a minute... (Bangs hands on table) Wait just a minute!
Ms. HT: Is there a problem?
Me: There could be!
Ms. HT: Ah, no, there he goes again! Tsk tsk! Mr. Minstrel, trust me! There's nothing to see here! Your son is fine! Everything is under control! Tra-la-la!
Me: No, it's NOT under control! He's NOT fine! There IS plenty to worry about! And you're NOT going to sweep it all under the rug!
Ms. HT: (Suddenly grimly serious) Mr. Minstrel, this is for your own good! I warn you, if you make an issue of this, it'll only make you suck even more in the eyes of the public!
Me: (Evil grin) No, I don't think so! Not this time! Aren't you forgetting something?
Ms. HT: What?
Me: In this society, if a kid goes bad, the parents are almost never held accountable.
Ms. HT: (Shakes head) Suck, suck, suck! You suck, Mr. Minstrel! You suck so much!
Me: No, Ms. Homeroom Teacher, YOU suck...or you will if my son winds up going bad.
Ms. HT: And you listen to ABBA...tch!
Me: As one teacher to another, I can assure you. I won't get any blame for it. You will. If my kid goes bad, everyone will be saying how much YOU suck. And you know it.
Ms. HT: (Sighs, shakes head) Well, as they say, that's life. (Stands) Anyway, I really must be going. I have to visit two more houses today. (Checks bag, counts remaining "SUCK" stickers)
Me: Well, thank you for coming! (Bows)
Ms. HT: (Bows in return) No, thank you! And if there's anything else, please don't hesitate to let me I can dodge the issue and try to blame it on you! And don't forget the Earl Grey next time!
Me: Of course! (Walks her to the door) I'm glad to know my kid is in such good hands!
Ms. HT: And so am I! (Bows again) Goodbye! (Turns to go) ABBA...gra-nola...chee!
Me: (Quickly slaps "SUCK" sticker on her back before shutting door)

Okay, back to reality: I actually met with both my kids' homeroom teachers today, and they were both really good people. I'm serious. We had really good chats, and I'm relieved to see that my kids seem to be in good hands. (However, judging by the intense preparation my wife made me go through beforehand, you'd think we really were expecting something like the drama above!)



  • Man, that read like a reeeeeeally bad nightmare! I'm glad the real visit didn't turn out quite like that.

    By Anonymous nikkipolani, at 4:03 AM  

  • I think I just lost a few sanity points. Glad the visits went well.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 6:54 AM  

  • Wife: From now on, you are having the babies.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 7:26 AM  

  • Nikkipolani and Snabulus-
    Yes, I did exaggerate a bit. As I said, though, considering the intense cleaning, prepping, practicing of polite expressions, etc., that goes on before these visits, you'd think things might go something like that!

    The latter part of the drama is partly based on fact. It's true that society blames the schools rather than the parents when kids go bad here. (Many if not most parents tend to deny all responsibility.) It's also true that a lot of homeroom teachers simply can't be bothered and therefore adopt an, "I didn't see it, so it didn't happen," attitude with regard to student discipline. I've heard a lot of horror stories in that regard and have a degree of personal experience with one of my kids' former homeroom teachers. (Specifically, when one of my kids was getting bullied for a time, the homeroom teacher tried to tell me that my kid was obviously making it all up...including the physical injuries and damaged items. Luckily other parents were on our side. The current homeroom teachers seem attentive and concerned, however, so I'm not really worried.)

    That would be interesting...NOT!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:11 AM  

  • Sorry, I can't read it all as something happens to my computer when I read your blog. Sounds good so far though!

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 3:45 PM  

  • Over here, teachers get the glory but not the blame. Interesting that HTs make house-calls. Glad the visits went well.

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 4:31 PM  

  • Man, I miss Sam Kinison quite a lot.

    By Anonymous The Intrepid Adventurer, at 8:35 PM  

  • WendyIt must be an issue related to Java since I have a Java-based animation on this site. (I've had the same problem on a different computer, and I solved it by deleting the old versions of Java and updating the Flash player.) I hope you get to read the rest of it!

    HappySurferThat sounds fair in some ways and dangerous in others. Teachers here in Japan used to get lots of respect. Now they tend to get run ragged by problem students, bullied by spoiled parents, stifled by idealistic but apathetic bureaucrats, and blamed by the media for every little problem that occurs. It's a no-win situation...except when we get to enjoy the pleasure of seeing students grow up and turn into promising adults.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 8:36 PM  

  • T.I.A.-
    So do I. He just never quite seems to go away even though he died years ago.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 8:37 PM  

  • Hmmm, home visits huh? We have Parent/Teacher conferances..but only up until High School ...then you have a "Parent night" where you have a shorented version of your kid's schedule and go around while the teachers explain their agenda/syallbus or whatever...

    Most teachers are ok, we've had a couple rotten ones, a few really great ones...

    Would NOT like a teacher poking around our house at all!

    By Blogger ladybug, at 10:47 PM  

  • Ladybug-
    Most parent/teacher conferences here take place at the school. Only the first one, at the very start of the school year, is at the home.

    Last year my kids' elementary school adopted a policy that, during the home visits, the teacher would proceed no further than the doorway. They seem to have repealed it this year. Even so, both teachers were led straight to the living room and straight out again.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:15 PM  

  • aaahhhh, what a good high drama nightmare! glad it wasn't true!! :)

    glad everything's going ok w/ the kids and school. i'd imagine that i'd be worried about the same things.

    do they really say thank you to someone stepping on their foot? do you put slippers out for ppl to wear? if so.. are there different pairs for different ppl or does everyone wear the same ones? ;)

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 4:26 AM  

  • do they really say thank you to someone stepping on their foot? -

    Not exactly, but people who are in intensive sports (or ascetic) training traditionally thank their instructors if they're given a slap on the head or a punishing beating. The same is true in Zen meditation; if a priest whacks you on the back with a stick to correct your posture, you're supposed to thank him.

    do you put slippers out for ppl to wear?-
    Yes, it is proper to place slippers for guests, especially important ones. Remember that Japanese don't wear shoes inside the house.

    if so.. are there different pairs for different ppl or does everyone wear the same ones?-

    Customarily, a household will have a number of pairs of guest slippers in a rack or cabinet by the door. When a guest arrives, the host just grabs whatever pairs are available.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 5:02 PM  

  • Forgive me if someone's already said it but that would be a really great Monty Python sketch.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 1:11 PM  

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