Ok. So in writing this, I am taking a bit of a professional risk. What I am about to share, though, was funny enough for me to take the chance. So, I'm going to write it anyway, and keep names completely anonymous. If this turns out to backfire, I'll erase it, quick as snot, and pretend it never happened.
Japanese mothers are unlike any mothers in the world. They are often of the wealthy, non-working variety, and like nothing more than to sit around our school (cafeteria, hallways, playground), chatting, talking, and (gasp!) gossiping. Usually about us. Being young and (even though I am not, they don't know it) single makes me, and my similarly-fated friends, large and juicy targets. I have a couple of moms this year, who, under no circumstances, will believe that Ricco and I are not dating. No matter how many times (8) they've asked and how many different people (4) they've sent to ask it, nor how many times (8) we've said that we aren't. They just keep coming back to ask again and again. It is possible that a few of them are fully, fully, fully enamored with Ricco and his good looks (hardly to be blamed, really), and are thus interested in ever personal dealing in both of our lives.
Now, as opposed to mothers in America, who are talking to you and working with you and sometimes bothering you about their child all day long (and when I say 'bother' I truly mean 'taking up a bit more of your time than you would like' - I mean that in the nicest way...), Japanese mothers want nothing to do with you. Not because they really don't want to, but because it is not their culture to come and talk to you about their child. It is a HUGE switch from what we are used to in our Western system, but is a switch I like, as talking to parents is my LEAST favorite part of teaching (just leave me alone and let me teach your precious cherubs, will you?!).
An unfortunate side-effect of the non-confrontational approach is that it is common for Japanese mothers to let you know they have a problem with you through one of two similar means:
1. She will tell one mom, or two, their problem and hope that it somehow trickles back to you,
2. She will tell you the problem directly, but will word it as if it were coming from a group of them, instead of from her alone.
Myself, being a person who doesn't like to talk to parents in the first place, and as a person who annoys easily, find it a bit offensive, but ridiculously hilarious, when they do this.
And so, to prove my point, I have an example to share. My hope is that you will find it as ridiculously hilarious as I did.
This particular infraction on my part happened when I, during an assembly, touched a child with my foot in order to urge him/her to move. In America, this would have been a no-biggie. In Japan, I have realized, it is a bit of a no-no. Mildly worth mentioning, if at all. Also mildly worth pondering, was the fact that I know, if it had been Ricco doing it, nothing at all would have been said.
Please enjoy the following, non-edited excerpt from a recent parent e-mail. The combination of the complaint and the way it was worded is, well, worth a glance:
"I was thinking I will talk with you tomorrow about one things.
But It's kind of hard to tell you...so I will tell you on this Email.
Last time, Assembly. (5th Grade)
we were seeing with some mothers.
before start assembly. you were using foot when children have to move....
some mother was seeing that. And they were little shock and disappointing.
maybe It's no mean for you.
Because I know you are usually very care about children. I know you like children very much.
and also [insert name of child here] like you very very much.
but I think you had better use hand or voice when you ask to children something.
because I don't want people misunderstanding about you.( you are such a nice teacher so....)
Did you understand what do I talking?? (I hope you can understand my terrible English)"