Yesterday was hard. I don’t mean hard as in, “Oh, this one thing happened and it ruined my whole day.” No, I mean that the whole day was hard.
I work at a kindergarten as a homeroom teacher here in Japan. I have on child in particular that I personally believe is the spawn of Satan. If not the Big Man himself. He is awful. Horrible. Wretched. Let’s call him Akuma.
So, before the school year started, I had heard whispers of Akuma around the staff room. Everyone talked about how awful he is and how it’s because his parents treat him like a god. They let him make the rules of the house and demand that the Japanese staff refer to him as -sama (the highest of name additions, basically royalty) and only talk to him in keigo (the most formal of Japanese).
Then I heard him screaming in the halls once. I flinched in surprise, but then I thought, hey, he’s four. Maybe something happened and he was genuinely upset.
At first, I thought it was a bit harsh how they were talking about him. I mean, surely no child can be that awful, right? Yeah, there are always brats but all kids have a soft spot, right?
Nope. Not Akuma.
I don’t know what the heck my boss was thinking sticking him in my class (I am new to this location, I changed jobs from elementary school to kindergarten on March first). You would think they would put him in an veteran’s class or to a teacher that knows him!
To list a few of the things I have caught him doing,… Well, let me number them.
One. I watched as he walked over to a girl who was literally just sitting there and he pushed her off her chair. Obviously, I rushed over and stopped him, but I just barely made it as he was going to kick her. Yes. He was trying to kick her in the stomach. Why? He didn’t like the way she was sitting, he said.
Two. I learned to keep an eye on him after that. The whole class went to the bathroom and as I was keeping an eye on them to make sure they washed their hands, I had to literally dive between him and another kid as Akuma picked up a soap bottle and whipped it at the other boy’s head. It hit me instead but OUCH did it hurt. His reasoning? He didn’t want that boy to wash his hands next to him.
Three. During gym class, I saw him turn around to the girl that was sitting behind him. She wasn’t doing anything. She is actually one of the most well-behaved kids in class. But he suddenly jumped up and started strangling her. I have no idea what his reason was this time. The next day, there was a girl in front of him that was crying because she had lost a game. He tried strangling her to make her be quiet. When we asked him why he did it, he literally said (in Japanese), “Well, if she can’t breathe, she can’t cry…”
Four. A girl came late to school and she was getting ready as the rest of the kids had Japanese class. She was walking to bring her water bottle to the assigned box and he stood up, walked over, and kicked her in the shin.
Five. Just today, he went to stab a girl with a pencil. When I took it away, his screaming fit started.
That’s another thing he does. He screams. And kicks. and punches. Last week, he was doing something horrible during class and so my Japanese partner in class put him out on the hall. He was screaming and angry, repeating over and over again, “僕、悪くない！悪くない！”[Boku, warukunai, warukunai!]（I’m not bad, I’m not bad!) He was, though. He is. When he does something wrong (like strangling kids, kicking them, or pushing them) and gets punished, that is his go-to phrase as he screams.
Anyway, yesterday was particularly bad. My partner was out of the room for most of the day and Akuma decided he was going to be awful. When I got back from my lunch break, the rest of the kids were already down for nap time. He was still ‘eating.’ I put that in apostrophes because no, he wasn’t eating. He was playing with the two bites that was left and making a ton of noise. I walked over to him (my partner went on break as I came in) and I asked him if he was finished. He blatantly ignored me, physically turning away. This is nothing new. He always has this reaction toward me.
I told him that all his other friends (we always say friends but the rest of the class actually dislikes him quite obviously) were already sleeping and he should hurry. He ignored me and picked at his two bites (that we wasn’t even required to eat) and he continued to play with his chopsticks.
I asked him if he needed a spoon instead since that may make it easier to eat. He grunted a yes and I went to get him one. When I handed it to him, he took it and threw it at the sleeping students. I grabbed his hand and told him that wasn’t okay and he stabbed me with his chopsticks. So I took them away.
Then the screaming started. I had to drag him out of the room so he wouldn’t wake up the other kids but that didn’t help much because the whole freaking school was sleeping and he was screaming loud enough for everyone to hear.
I took him to an empty room to try to talk to him as a coworker watched over my class and he was not having it.
“Let’s talk,” I said to him.
“NO TALK!” he screamed at me repeatedly as he punched and kicked me.
“Then listen,” I scolded.
“NO LISTEN!” he screamed at me, still punching and kicking. I held his arms and legs down so he couldn’t hurt me anymore (I have bruises) and he screamed and screamed. I let him go and he started banging on the door. It was locked so he couldn’t get out but he wouldn’t stop. This went on for about ten minutes before my partner appeared. My coworker went to get her. She talked to him to calm him down. He immediately quieted and went on this lying rampage of how he was just trying to finish his lunch and I came and took his chopsticks away and tried to push him into a cot to go to sleep hungry.
Anyway, she talked him down, he came back and halfheartedly said sorry, then went to sleep on a cot. After everyone woke up, my partner was still busy with other things so I had to care for the class alone.
Akuma keeps attacking his girl in class. I don’t know what he has against her but he wants her dead. He throws things at her, pushes her, kicks her, and pulls her hair. He tries to strangle her and rip her books… I couldn’t get ANYTHING done all afternoon because I literally had to stand between them so that he couldn’t get to her.
Granted, she isn’t a little angel herself. She provokes him a lot. But she was running from him and hid behind me crying and saying no no no no over and over.
So, by the end of the day, I was done. Dead inside. Contemplating life choices. Considering jumping out my class’s third story window onto the busy street outside. While I was cleaning the bathrooms as the kids were in gym class, I actually started crying in frustration.
Yes, I’ve only been teaching this class for three weeks but is it my fault? Am I a bad teacher? Did I do something wrong? Am I handling it wrong? What am I doing wrong?
But a head teacher came in and talked to me. She told me that no, it isn’t me. Akuma is horrible and it has nothing to do with me or my teaching skills. Regardless, I told her that if I don’t get some kind of support while my partner isn’t in the room, I will turn in my resignation. That shocked her into stepping things up a bit. I have gotten a lot of support since… Well, it’s only been one day. But I got a lot of support today!
Anywho, today marks the start of a ten day holiday in Japan called Golden Week. We are getting a new emperor soon and the Reiwa era will start. Goodbye, Heisei.
Thank you for reading. And if you have any advice, I am seriously all ears.