First, in the morning, Ms. Aoki plays music from the boom box. “Who would like to create a movement with your arms from this music? Hiro, please come up to the front and show your movement. Everyone, let’s copy Hiro’s movement.” Hiro holds his arms up in the air and swings them. All of our arms are up in the air and swung from right to left, like the wind. Ms. Aoki is smiling, satisfied. After that, Ms. Aoki decides who should lead the next movement. Of course, my hand is so straight and high. My fingers are so straight that they are almost arching out the other way. Unfortunately, the person chosen is not me. Ayumi holds her arms up in the air, and swings from right to left. All of our hands are once again held in the air, and swung from right to left like the wind. “I know something different,” I blurt out with my arched hand. “I need someone who is quiet when raising their hand,” Ms. Aoki says while avoiding my begging eye contact. The next person is up. Hideki holds his arms up in the air and start swaying. “Are you nuts?” My heart screams. I am totally tired of holding my arms up in the air and swaying.
Looking around, quite a few hopeful “I-wanna-go-next” straight hands and “Pick-me!” eye beams are somewhat ferociously shooting at Ms. Aoki. Finally her eyes meet with mine. Her beautiful smile makes me extremely hopeful. “Ok, that’s enough for today. Let’s do this next time.” Are you kidding me? Ms. Aoki, you will regret it if you don’t see my special arm movement in your music! This disappointment in Ms. Aoki would haunt me on and off through my entire pre-kindergarten career. Does she underestimate me? Does she expect that I will do the same stupid movement? Ms. Aoki is the person who knows me the best, maybe even better than my parents. Nobody could copy my completely complicated movement. Perhaps she is afraid of what might have happened if she picked me. Earlier experiences of betrayal, disbelief, and realization of “Life is Not Fair” have been appropriately yet painfully seeped into my veins. Facing the reality is quite shocking and hurtful on my developing body and mind.
However, it seems like that day turned out not so bad. A rigorously constructed clay snake and a couple of apples are showing off on the wooden clay board. Rich is making bananas on hers, while I wonder why as I keep rolling a snake as long as it can get, my snake gets longer and longer, and skinnier. Maybe I can make the longest snake record. I carefully roll one side, and hold it for a second, and roll the other side so I don’t break the snake. It becomes longer than my clay board. I grin. My snake could be eligible to be a noodle. The most fun part is coming up. I am going to coil it up around and around and make my clay typhoon roll. I am almost there. When my snake is just about to reach the world record length, Rich pushes her desk by accident. Bang! “Sorry!” As Rich blurts out, my longest possible snake becomes “one” still-sort-of-long snake and “one” miserably short snake. Instantly, my dream breaks into pieces. With my frustration, I decide to put two snakes together to make a hideous ugly rock which nobody makes.
“Raise your hand if you make some animals?” Ms. Aoki asks. Someone shows her a mediocre snake proudly. “Wow, I have never seen such a long snake before!” Ms. Aoki exclaims. That snake is not even half as long as mine. I am about to show my world longest snake and realize that I instead have a horrifically ugly boulder. Unfortunately, I totally ruined the only proof of the world record longest snake. It ends up being an unrecognizable humongous boulder. It is very pathetic that I am so close to get the whole spotlight, yet I am not quite close enough. Maybe I have to wait for my spotlight moment until the school bus ride home.
We take off our art smocks and hook them up. My penmanship notebook is ready on my desk. I am anxious to open my notebook because I just couldn’t make the Hiragana letter “Ne” very well last time. I erased it several times, tried more than 10 more times, and then time was up. Nervously, I turn my pages to get to the “Ne” page. I can easily find the page that is crumpled from being erased a million times. To my surprise, my “Ne” letter box is filled with red ink marked by Ms. Aoki. Not once, but over and over and over. It is clear evidence of her agony over the simple letter “Ne”. I am so confused about which line she means for me to trace. Soon my eyes catch the brand new red ink letter “Ne” outside of the box. Her accomplishment finally appears. She finally wrote her best “Ne” after several struggles in my practice box. Thanking her effort, I consciously trace Ms. Aoki’s accomplished “Ne”. Then, I do mine just like hers outside of the box although I know she is not going to look at this page any more.
Ms. Aoki always wears a greyish dark blue smock along with the fellow lady teachers. Mr. Principal always wears a well ironed white shirt and a tie without a jacket. He shaves his head every day because his other job is as a monk in his temple. This means he must wear “Kesa” for funerals, burial services, and other temple related activities. It is kind of like Superman or Spiderman’s life. Nobody knows the other half of his secret life. Technically, my pre-kindergarten is a small private Buddhist school where its temple becomes the convenient assembly hall.