The boys were not in a good mood and were still quarreling as you clapped your hands to try and get their attention, then, to your surprise, Koemi walked over to them and gave them both a good smack on the cheek.
“Listen!” she announced loudly and pointed to you.
Both boys were so stunned they didn’t know whether to cry or not, and just looked at you.
“Oh gosh!” you said quickly, “Koemi, please don’t hit the boys…”
“They not listening, mummy.”
“I know, sweetheart, but let mummy be in charge, ok?” you asked.
Both boys meekly followed her over to you and stood quietly while Emi’s mum finished up putting sunscreen on her wriggly bundle of happiness. (Thankfully she had been so distracted by her own daughter that she didn’t see your girl slap the boys into submission.)
And with everyone now ready to go, you started practice.
Koemi seemed to be quite on it that day and was very good at keeping Kyo and Goro in line. Kyo was the more behaved of the two but in a split second he could become a terror. But if he wasn’t provoked, he was usually pretty good.
First you did ‘hot potato’, getting the kids to bounce the balls off their wrists and all of them were doing fantastically.
Then after doing that for a while, you had them line up and run up to the net to spike while you set for them.
Emi had good form and when she was focused on a task, she was 1000% focused, and nothing could break her concentration.
Mr and Mrs Totoru had come out to watch and you saw him nod a few times when the kids did a particularly good spike.
“Ok, let’s show Mr and Mrs Totoru how we can do it with our other hand,” you said with excitement.
You had been getting the kids to practice hitting with their non dominant hand so that their little bodies didn’t develop muscle unevenly and, as little kids did, they took to it very easily and were damn near ambidextrous.
Mr Totoru grinned and clapped for each child as they managed to hit a ball over the net and then once they had finished that it was time for morning tea.
“They’re all doing so well,” he commented to you, “Emi is especially good with her spikes.”
“Yes, she is very focused,” you said in agreement, chatting a little more about Emi.
From where she was sipping on her juice popper Koemi listened in, a small pout pulling at her little lips.
After eating time was over, you got them back in 2 lines to practice passing the balls to one another and each child was assigned a colour and given that colour sticker to put on their shirt, including yourself- kneeling, of course, to make it fair.
One at a time, you called a colour and whoever had the ball had to throw to the person with that colour.
“Ok… blue!” you called brightly.
Koemi had the ball and so she tossed it to Kyo who had the blue sticker on his shirt.
“Now… green!” you called to Kyo, who tossed it to Emi who had a green sticker.
“Now… pink!” you called, hoping she would throw it to you, because you had the pink sticker on, but instead she tossed it to Koemi, who had purple.
“Oops!” you called to Emi, “I called for pink but you threw it to Koemi and she’s purple.
“But I like purple?” Emi replied to you.
“That’s great. I’m glad you like purple, but you had to throw it to pink. Let’s try again. Get your listening ears on for the colour I call, ok?”
Emi nodded and Koemi trotted out of line to hand her back the ball… as Goro walked off.
“Hey, come back Goro, we’re not done yet,” you said.
He looked up with surprise as if to say ‘what? You’re still here?’ Then turned and got back into line.
“Now to yellow!” you called to Emi, who threw it to Koemi again… because, purple.
“Oops, where is yellow?” you asked Emi.
She pointed to Goro.
“So why did you toss to Koemi if you know Goro is yellow?” you asked her.
“Because she’s purple, and I like purple,” Emi replied.
You were about to fight it again but decided that it wasn’t worth the effort and called it quits on that game.
“Can we do spikey?” Koemi asked you when you let everyone go and do their own thing.
“Yes, good idea, let’s do that again, I’ll call everyo—,”
“No, just you and just Komemei (Koemi),” she said in a firm yet pleading voice and you smiled down at her.
“Yes, ok, just mummy and just you, baby K,” you agreed, following her to the nets.
“You frow (throw) it and Komemi hit it,” she said, giving you a volleyball to set for her.
“Ok,” you said with a little amused look.
She walked away a bit, then turned and got ready for her run.
“You call,” you encouraged her.
“Ok!” she called happily as she started to run.
You waited for the right time then gently tossed the ball and she ran, jumped, and gave it a good hit.
“Oooo, well done!” you praised her.
She beamed with pride.
“Komemei, fossuss?” she asked you.
“Are you, what, sweetheart?” you asked back, trying to work out what she had said.
“Fossuss?” you asked.
“Komemei fossuss like Emi when Emi does the jumping?”
“Fossuss like Emi??? Oh! Focused? Like Emi?”
“Yes! Fossuss!” she said with delight.
“Oh, yes of course, you’re very focused,” you praised her.
“I fossuss betterer,” she announced firmly as she trotted off under the net and retrieved the ball then handed it to you so you could set for her again.
“She must have overheard Mr Totoru and I talking about Emi being focused and she got a little jealous?” you wondered as you set her up for another spike.
She was going all out with her hits and watching the ball right into her hand so you made sure to praise her up big, and as the lesson wrapped up you left her to see the other kids off.
She went back to practicing receiving on her own and Mr Totoru walked over to give her a hand while you said goodbye to the others.
“Your little one is coming a long way,” he said to you when you came back to them.
“She is! Isn’t she,” you praised her in front of him, “very focused.”