Or more precisely, shit happens.
Excuse the profanity, but last week was a three day week that started with plenty of excitement (and not the good, fun kind.)
Monday morning, I’m told I have a trial student coming in for the first few hours of the day to test out how she reacts to being in an English speaking environment. This little girl’s father will be in Toyohashi for the next two years on a contract for work and it will be her first time in Japan for an extended amount of time (I can relate.) She was a cute little thing though, quiet and followed the crowd of my tiny hurricanes around the room. She was visibly disoriented though, but who wouldn’t be when you’re freshly transplanted from Vietnam and don’t speak a lick of English or Japanese?
The day continued as usual, it rained off and on and I swear the rain brings out the deep down crazy in these kiddos. They were off the wall more than usual. Things took a turn during free play after lunch though. I was sitting on the floor with a group building, or trying to build a tower of blocks when I started to smell something. Didn’t think too much on it, figured it was just a munchkin digesting lunch and passing gas. But then the smell didn’t go away. Not a good sign.
And that’s when I noticed the growing puddle on the floor where a puddle definitely shouldn’t be: underneath a kid.
I didn’t want to freak him out or embarrass him more than necessary, so I tried my best to get him to go into the bathroom and put his pants in a bucket to wash later, (I do not do that type of washing, someone else has that pleasure). But the kid just stared at me, a look of horror on his face on what he just did. So much for the subtle approach… So I’m repeatedly telling this little guy to go into the bathroom, go into the bathroom, go into the bathroom and finish. But he would not budge. By now the puddle is slowly expanding, the poop smell is stronger, and there is a growing crowd of students around us.
I all but lift the student up by the back of his shirt and propel him to the bathroom, gently, because he wasn’t moving. He finally goes and leaves a little trail of wetness behind him. So he’s finally in the right place, but now I have a puddle and a crowd and three other students with wet shoes and pants from sitting in the pee puddle. Yay. I grab the wet shoes and clothes and tell the students to wait for me in the bathroom as I try to find a change of clothes for them, all the while trying to keep stray blocks and students out of the puddle on the floor. (Kudos to all th parents and teachers who manage to be in two places at once when the situatino calls for it.)
I’m not alone in the classroom (No duh Allie, you have 14 munchkins you need to manage all day). No, what I mean is I have a full time Japanese teacher with me who immensely helps out with the discipline, translations, clean up, and keeping the kids on track all day. It just so happens she was out of the room for this series of unfortunate events.
People use pigeon as messengers, so I figured the same logic could apply to this situation; so I had another student run downstairs with a desperate SOS message for my Japanese co-teacher: get back here asap. Two minutes pass and then I watch her and a second Japanese teacher come running up the stairs with towels and extra clothes in hand. The saviors of the day.
One teacher is moping up the puddle on my floor, one is in the bathroom helping the student who had been sitting there (apparently he had a big mess to deal with if the noises from the teacher in there were any indication), I’m trying my best to do crowd control and throw wet blocks into another bucket to be washed when another little girl, a tiny tiny quiet thing, comes up to me with tears in her eyes. All she says is, “Teacher Allison, me too” and simultaneously bursts into tears and wets her pants.
The Japanese teacher and I both calmly yelled (well we tried anyway) to go into the bathroom and finish there! Not on the floor… Too late. Famous last words…
Casualty count is as follows: two pee puddles, a dozen blocks, one toilet, two shirts, two pants, four pairs of shoes, and one very traumatized Allison.
At least no one threw up. I would’ve walked home right then and there if that were the case.
About 20 minutes of chaos and confusing smells later, the floor and students were cleaned up. I felt like bathing in Purell, but it wasn’t available so I had to make do with some gentle hand soap on my hands and forearms.
But you know, I’d like to think I was relatively calm throughout that ordeal. I know shituations like these can happen when working with freshly potty trained humans, but I wasn’t expecting this. Thankfully the school keeps about two dozen changes of clothes for events like this, and it was clear that both Japan teachers who came to my rescue had dealt with this before. God bless them because I was all but useless aside from some internal panic.
But we all survived. Even the two kids who caused the chaos, they got cleaned up and wouldn’t you know it, they went right back to playing with their friends afterwards. The rest of the class was curious about what all the commotion was, but never at any point was there name calling, teasing, or yelling from another student. I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing, or if they are just too young to realize that wetting one’s pants can mean a life sentence of merciless teasing in the classroom. Either way, I was proud of the class for taking things in stride and not causing a bigger scene than what was already unfolding in front of them.
Thank goodness it was only a three day week this week (school is closed Thursday and Friday), because if that was Monday, I don’t think I could’ve handled much more if that excitement carried all the way through to Friday. I guess the moral of the story is pay attention to bodily needs. But seriously, I think the class got it right about being curious, but not making a big deal out of it. Sure they all went back to arguing over the same toy afterwards but at least they didn’t hold the poop incident against anyone.