This article is a web original

Marco Cian (Hyogo)


Whenever I tell people back home “I teach little kids.”, their reaction is always “Ohhh, Japanese kids are so cute! And I’ll bet they’re so polite, too!” No. No, people! You may think that Japanese kids are all proper and well-behaved because of the media image promoted by Hollywood, but I can tell you right now, you gotta be careful around them. You never know how they’ll get you, if they catch you slipping.

Indeed, at a school I used to work for, there was one particular first-grader girl. I nicknamed her Princess, because she was an imperious, determined child. I swear when she gets older she’ll laugh just like an anime noblewoman, but anyways. One day I was just minding my own business during recess, when Princess came up to me, lips wobbling and eyes dampening. You see, she’d lost a precious bauble of hers (or so she claimed!). It had slipped out of her hands and slid beneath the bookshelf in her classroom, and because her diminutive limbs were too short to reach her lost gewgaw, couldn’t I lend my very, very long arms to aid her? What could I say? When a tiny tot pleaded with me so pitifully? I – stupidly, naively, unsuspectingly – said yes. And after being shown the alleged bookshelf, I got on my knees, stretched out, reached underneath…

And at once she pounced! Lightning-quick, Princess leapt upon my back and spurred her ankles into me like I was some common beast! Caught off-guard I could only gibber, as Princess bellowed out across the room to get her friends’ attention. Yes, she grinned, he’s mine, all mine! He gets to give me horsey rides, not you!

Now of course, Princess’ friends weren’t having that, and before I could buck my captor off me, I was swarmed on all sides by a horde of 1st-graders, all wanting a horsey ride. Princess hissed like a cat, and swatted several cloying hands away, but neither she nor I could stop the swarming mass, and soon a whole classroom of kids had climbed on me, clamorous and caterwauling.

I was no match for their combined weight, and I sunk in defeat, when suddenly, a teacher appeared! Was I saved? Would she shoo away this overwhelming throng, and save me? I gazed up at her, hope in my eyes…

And she chuckled. “Heheheh. Very genki, ne?” Before leaving me to my fate.

I spent the rest of recess giving horsey rides (the teacher was kind enough to make the kids form a line), and while it… might have been fun once I was no longer crushed and knew what I was doing, I warn you all! People say Japanese kids are cute and polite and not at all like American kids. But they’re just as crafty. Just as sly and devious. So watch out! Don’t let your guard down around those kids, or they’ll get you! You have been warned!

Okay, fine. I’ll admit… they’re still very cute.


Marco Cian is a second-year ALT in Hyogo Prefecture. Despite his suffering of betrayal he still quite likes kids. If you want to read more stuff by him, you can check out his blog at