Rainy Rainy

Rainy season started here in Kanto yesterday in quite dramatic fashion. It’s been drizzling for two days, with periods of downpouring which seem to occur only when I have to be outside.

I’ll admit it: I’m one of those strange women who don’t mind rainy season. I mean, sure it’s wet and the laundry is a pain and your hair looks bad.

But at least it isn’t hot!

I guess my feelings may be influenced by my laundry always being a mess and my hair always looking bad anyway. During rainy season, perhaps that doesn’t stand out as much.

But there is one thing about this season of perpetual rain that does aggregate me, and that is footwear. It’s too hot and muggy for rainboots, but wearing sneakers would serve only to induce misery. Sandals get waterlogged. Flip flops flip water on your butt. Crocs are okay until your feet get wet, and then you start actually sliding around inside your shoes, which is not as much fun as it sounds. Kind of like a Slip-n-Slide.

Of course leather or fabric won’t do, but then plastic makes your feet sweat. So. What to do?

Any suggestions?

But like I said before, at least it isn’t hot. Or cold.

Stick It

I usually get along with my MIL, but that doesn’t make for very interesting blogging, so let me just enlighten the world in regards to a weird thing she said the other day. I’m still trying to figure it out.

For the past month or so, both of my children have been absolutely obsessed with Lego Hero Factory. I have no opinion on this matter, apart from being thankful that they are fighting less over the TV, and getting sick of hearing millions of tiny little tidbits abut the various heroes for hours and hours every day.

In true Tiger Mom fashion, I bought the children several books about the heroes. The chapter books are actually pretty interesting, though they are a little too difficult for the kids so I have to go back and summarize everything that happened. Multiple times. When I really wish they would just go to sleep already.

I also bought them a sticker book. It’s one of those kinds where the pages of silhouettes of the item and you find the correct sticker and add it on. This is, of course, quite easy for Me First, who is nine, and not difficult for Me Too, either. Me First has been filling in the stickers, and then going back and reading the descriptions. These are well written, with vivid descriptions and full of vocabulary he doesn’t usually come across. It’s been a great exercise for him (and a good reminder to me to try to use different kinds of words to give my kids more exposure to the richness of the English language beyond “clean your room” and “because I said so, that’s why.”)

He took this obsession book with him when we went to the in-laws over the weekend, and MIL just went on and on about how it was too easy for him, and why would I waste money on something like that, isn’t it boring, etc.

I just cannot fathom why she would say those things. The sticker bit may have been easy, but she had no way of knowing how difficult the reading was, being unable to read English herself. And he was obviously enjoying himself, rearranging the stickers and making up stories as he went along. He was even more or less quiet, which is always a plus.

I just don’t get it.

She (and HRH) have made several comments in the past when one of the children did something they thought was “too childish.” So what? If it’s fun, and not bothering anyone, why does it matter? What’s with the push to do things they deem age-appropriate? And who gave them the power to decide that, anyway?

Recently, Me Too doesn’t want to go to the park with HRH because he makes her play baseball, or soccer, or some other organized game when she just really wants to collect acorns and then perhaps roll in the mud.

We went to the beach last week to dig clams, and HRH insisted they go straight to the water and get to work when both children were more interested in trying to run across the sand and throwing seaweed at each other. Why battle with them over that?

The funniest part of the beach adventure was that, after about an hour of clam digging, he said they could each take three clams home. How arbitrary is that? Why three? And then he thought I was actually going to prepare them for consumption. 24 hours of soaking and sand spitting, then steaming them, all for six clams total?

“This is Houston. Come back to Earth.”

Locked Out

When we finally found Me Too, I went to unlock the door and realized that in desperation she had crammed a bamboo stick into the keyhole. Of course, it had broken off and got stuck.

Great.

I did eventually manage to use the pokey end of Me First’s compass to pry it out, but it took awhile. We didn’t get into the house until the wrong side of 4:30.

Me Too was exhausted by this time, and I could feel a migraine coming on. So she skipped karate class. Me First would have skipped, too, if HRH hadn’t shown up just as things were calming down.

Of course he thought Me Too should have been forced to go to karate anyway. Of course he thought I was over reacting. Waiting on your door step for 2 freaking hours and then being locked out for another? No big deal, he says. Of course I wonder, again, how it is that I am married to such a man and living in such a country where things like this are “no big deal.”

I’d had a weird encounter earlier in the day at Costco. I got to talking to one of the people who worked there. He told me he was from Senegal, and then went into a diatribe about how screwed up Japanese society is.

“These people have everything, so much stuff. But they don’t have kids. What is life without kids?” he said to me. It was an other-side-of-the-looking glass moment. I’d grown up hearing about the poor kids in Africa who don’t have anything, and here was one of them feeling sorry for me because I only have two children.

This surreal conversation with HRH brought the other conversation fresh to my mind. Our priorities just seem to be drifting further apart. The way we experience the world around us is totally different. I’ve been around a bit more so I can understand the denial, the defensiveness he feels when I tell him that the school is wrong to leave little children wandering about like that. I want HIM to be the one who takes these concerns to the school because he will be listened to. I’ll be dismissed out of hand as an outsider with crazy ideas. I’ll get the “this is Japan” line. I can deal with that bullshit outside of my home, but I can’t have my concerns minimized and made light of inside and still hold things together.

But this post is all over the place…Happy reading, I’m sure.

Panic

Yesterday, I went to pick the kids up from after care at school. (I had been in a PTA meeting all afternoon.)

And they told me Me Too wasn’t there.

Where to even start? I was horrified. I was mortified. I was livid.

I trust these people with my children. It seems to me the very least they could do was ensure the children were where they were supposed to be.

Me First and I ran home, and thank god she was there on the landing. The poor little lamb had been waiting there for almost TWO HOURS.

There just are no words. The whole thing was beyond awful.

Glitter Nation (just because I can’t think of a better title)

Shopping without a car is a pain in the ass. (Not to be blunt or anything.)

I’m in need of clothes that fit, more or less, and preferably cost less than the GDP of a small nation. So Japanese brands are pretty much out.

Of course there is only one place that meets those requirements. I needed to go to Old Navy.

But that is a hop, skip, jump, and an hour train ride away. Plus walking time. Can’t forget the walking time. How many of my poorly laid plans have been foiled by failing to figure the walking time (times pi when walking with children who constantly need to tie their shoes and/or pee every time they spot a restroom while simultaneously gathering every wildflower or shiny pebble in within a hundred foot radius.)

So, um, like I said earlier PITA, and I don’t mean the sandwich.

HRH wasn’t around today to add wild man moods to the already multi-variable equation, so we went for it.

It was okay. Well, except for a few mortifying seconds when I left the kids in the dressing room alone while I asked the salesperson something. Said children then proceeded to party like it was 1999.

Actually, I lived through 1999 and it wasn’t that special, so maybe more like 1929 before that stock market crash thingy. I’m pretty sure there were beads and fringe involved today as well.

My god- how can two small people make so much noise? Somebody ought to bottle that, chaos in a can.

Trusty Old Navy- I managed to get enough clothing to make it through rainy season without being indecent.

Not that I’m making any promises, mind you.

Me First got more camo shorts. I think all three pairs he owns are camouflage. Or otherwise cleverly stained. Sister got a tee shirt with a silhouette of the US in gold glitter on it.

Remind me to send one to my Canadian friends…I see your maple leaf and raise you a whole country in gold glitter!

Then I had to carry all that stuff home on the train, of course stopping several times to potty, twice for juice, once for ice cream (this is not a burden,) and at least a dozen times for Me First to tie his shoes.

What’s for dinner

I’ve mentioned before about my loathing for green beans. I do feel kind of guilty that my kids have hardly ever eaten them because a) I hate them b)they’re expensive in Japan and c)I hate them. So when I saw this recipe on Japanese TV for “caramel black sesame pork,” I decided to give it a try.

Originally, it called for snap peas. But there weren’t any at the store, so I went with the suggested replacement. There weren’t any fresh green beans, so I used frozen.

I also didn’t write the recipe down, but I remembered the main points. These were 1)butter and 2)sugar.

Just a reminder not to believe everything you hear about how healthy Japanese cuisine is!

The first step was to make a kind of caramel sauce from the butter and sugar, but I was in a hurry so…I melted the butter, stirred in some sugar, then added the pork. After that had pretty much cooked through, I added the still frozen beans and onions. At some point I put in some cooking sake. Then when it all looked done, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and some crushed black sesame.

All of the green bean haters managed to eat it (cut up and served on rice for the children.) Of course, since I didn’t really measure anything I may never be able to produce it again. But I think as long as you get the butter and sugar, you’ll probably be okay.

Psychodrama

So the little sh!t is in Me First’s class again this year. Even worse, they are in the same han, or group, and he’s up in Brother’s face all day long. He has been waiting downstairs every morning for my kids to come down, and walking to school with them.

I’ll admit a part of me was hoping this meant they were becoming friends. The two of them have been separated into a different class from the other boys in their posse, after all, so it wasn’t totally unreasonable that I-kun would latch onto Me First and actually not be an ass for, at least like half a day or something.

But this morning I overheard him telling Brother to run off and hide from Sister.

I performed an appropriate crazy-haired-gaijin-in-pajamas-screaming-bloody-murder scene from the landing, of course. But really, picking on a 1st grade girl is just beyond the border of what is even remotely acceptable in my universe.

So I-kun has a meet-the-lord moment coming next school day. I already have beginning of the school year parent-teacher conferences coming up soon. Whether to show up with the Emmet from Back to the Future hair or not is still under consideration.

In other troubling news, apparently Me First wrote someone a hate letter. Fortunately, he had enough sense not to sign it.

The recipient of this letter is the boy who, for the second term of second grade, used Me First as a punching bag. He also, sadly, seems to be a kid in need of special Ed type help that he isn’t getting. He asks inappropriate questions in class, refuses to sit down, etc., which results in the whole class losing their recess, things like that. He is mean to his classmates and hits them and kicks them, not seeming to understand that they are in pain or that his actions lead to his being disliked by, basically, everyone.

He also cries tender tears when he has to share something, or let someone else take turns being the leader. He really doesn’t seem to understand that everyone else should also have a turn. But then he bounces back in about .5 seconds, and starts punching people again.

Me First said he cried when he read the hate letter. And he feels bad about writing it and wants to apologize. But another kid who apologized for writing something mean on his desk got punched in the face for his trouble, so he was nervous about admitting he was the writer.

And then he got to the part where he told me that this incident happened three weeks ago.

So…. if it had been yesterday, I would have called the teacher and had Me First apologize. As it is? Part of me thinks having felt guilty about this for the past three weeks may be enough. I talked to Me Too about why he wrote the letter (he was angry because of something the other boy had said,) and how it made him feel when he saw how hurt the other kid was by it (bad.) Being mean to others doesn’t make our own pain go away. Usually, it just makes us feel worse.

For now, I’ve left it at that.

But… It really would have been nice to get through at least the first month of school without this kind of psychodrama.

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