Saturday, 19 March 2011

Getting me through

I feel very guilty about talking up any stress or worries I am personally feeling over the last week.

We have had aftershocks and wobbles, but on the greater scale of things we have had precious little to cry about. It has been weird, living a country experiencing unprecedented trauma. As if the double-whammy would not have been hard enough to tackle, the relief effort has been castrated not just by the scale of the devastation, but by the terrifying prospects of just what could (still) go wrong at the nuclear plant(s) on the Fukushima coast.

I have been awed by the calm, rational reaction of our students and parents. I have not been so impressed with the sensational, irrational and outright inflammatory descriptions of events unfolding in Japan in some quarters of the media. I have stopped watching CNN. Some of the BBC's correspondents have also angered me. However, the scientific experts the BBC featured, especially mid-week, were extremely reassuring in their analysis and presentation of the facts. How has the Japanese media functioned? Pass. (Slowly? Spoonfed? Soporific?)

A week down the road since our own building wriggled, I was not looking forward to teaching my little tiddlers class. Don't get me wrong - lovely kids, and really warm mums. No, we would be in the same room, same kind of windy day...

The children jumped up the stairs to class and were giggling about their new word ("ji-shin" - earthquake) as they remembered where they were. They are five. They gabbled away in Japanese, not anxiously, just having a giggle. They talked about me holding their hands and how they had hidden under the table last time. I did not want to have any other reminders; my classroom has spooked me all week - rattly windows, doors banging,  pole outside swaying in the wind (is it the wind?). So, at a good volume we watched and sang along to a nice DVD, the Three Billy Goats from OUP. I had just about settled myself when my phone bleeped an earthquake warning. I leapt out of my skin. A quick check told me it was a M4.8 off the coast towards Hokkaido. But the timing was awful. I looked again at the happy faces engrossed in the DVD and thanked the stars they were all totally unharmed. The school is standing. My family are OK. We have food, we have warmth, we even have toilet paper. The sheer relief of a whole week and not being dead, I could not stop having a quick cry. Good job the DVD was on : )

(Because we were singing and dancing, we did not feel the two tremors during our lesson - so my planned worked doubly. We did spook mums downstairs though, with all the banging. Sorry about that)

Thank you girls. As long as I teach you though, I am going to be looking at you with an extra glint. You are too young to know, or care. You are going to be a weekly reminder, Friday afternoon, that I am very lucky indeed.

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