A Very Merry Unbirthday, A Nice Moment in Japan

I was sitting in the teacher’s room after lunch, when the volleyball coach announced that I had a guest. It seemed a bit odd–I don’t often receive visitors, as the old ladies say, especially at school. At first I thought that I must have left something important at home and Sean was delivering it, but then I realized that it was actually one of my favorite students waiting in the hall.

I was quite happy to see her, a third-year girl who I’ll call Yui.

“Happy Birthday!” she said as soon as I came out.

“What? Today isn’t my birthday…”

Her face crumpled, and I noticed the little cheesecake she had in her hand.

I knew immediately what had happened–in my classes, I often play a game called Criss Cross. Everyone stands up, and I ask questions based on the recent material. If the students answer correctly, they can sit down, and they can also let their friends sit down by declaring “Front,” “Back,” “Left,” or “Right.”

The ones left standing at the end have to sing a song as their punishment, which provides excellent motivation to answer the questions. I always force them to sing “Happy Birthday, Miss Alice!” and tell them that it’s because “every day is my birthday!” That usually gets good laughs (and a few cheeky students trying to ask how old I am!)

My first period class that day however had been a bit rocky–it was excruciatingly hot, and the students flopped about like dead fish (and about as smelly.) Worse, the windows were open to try to catch a breeze, but the noise of the traffic was loud and distracting, with constant trucks going by.

Yui swore up and down that no one had told her, but I’m quite sure that a sleepy first year had meant well and dutifully informed her Sempai that it was my birthday. I’m also quite sure that said first year probably got quite a pounding shortly there after, because Yui looked absolutely mortified!

To change the subject, I asked her when her birthday was–turns out it was June 10th! Oh no! Perhaps it was all an elaborate ruse to clue me in about her recent birthday, because I did make her promise to come back on Monday so I could give her a little something. Wouldn’t that be clever!

My coworkers had noticed the conversation, and were wondering about the cakey that I brought back in. When I explained it to one teacher she had the best response: “That’s…what’s the word? Awful? No…adorable!” Poor Yui!


About superhappyawesome

Living in Japan!
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7 Responses to A Very Merry Unbirthday, A Nice Moment in Japan

  1. NTG says:

    Awww!! What an adorable story. I feel like she might have a crush on you~~

  2. Ali says:

    Great story! Teaching at a JHS is not without it’s interesting moments. On my first day as a teacher a student said quite loudly that I had a long nose. Not realizing that this is a complement in Japan, I took it as a dig at my elongated (at least by Japanese standards) face and responded with ‘Well I guess yours is flat, we’re all different’ not realizing that _that_ was an insult!

  3. Anna says:

    I have racked my brains over this, but I can’t think of a German word for that (and I am German)!

  4. Pingback: Today’s watercolor: a School Life Self-Portrait |

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