Yeah, you read that right. I’m just kind of too lazy to type “Easter” and “kindergarten” so I thought it would be convenient to do like Shakespeare and make a new word.
So first, Easter.
The kids were so psyched about the Easter bunny coming that they were up at 5 freaking a.m. I tried explaining to them the night before that the Easter bunny isn’t like Santa. He doesn’t have a whole team of elves working for him making toys and spying on unsuspecting minors. He also doesn’t have anywhere near Santa’s budget, and it is really really inappropriate to start writing him letters the night before Easter asking for toys.
But the kids were excited anyway. Sometime around the break of dawn, Me Too insisted we wake up and that I go check in the kitchen first to make sure the Easter bunny was long gone. We’d done the best we could, really. HRH had picked up some small chocolate bunnies and jelly beans last time he was in the U.S. for work. Me Too has been saying for weeks that she wants a pink stuffed bunny rabbit, but the only one I could find on line was like fifty big ones. So she got a small stuffed Mrs. Rabbit from the Peter Rabbit series. Brother got Peter. They also got a collection of Peter Rabbit stories, a book about rabbits, and a Berenstain Bears book about Easter.
Needless to say, Me First was pissed. What the h-e-double hockey sticks was that Easter bunny thinking?
But after we read some of the Peter Rabbit stories, he changed his tune. They enjoyed acting out the stories with the stuffed animals, not to mention gorging themselves with chocolate.
We went for a picnic with friends to Nogeyama Park. It’s across the street from the saddest zoo in the world and in the second seediest neighborhood in Yokohama (that I know of.) Koganecho has got to be the worst with the “masseuses” from various third-world countries shouting out to “big brother” to come over for a “rest.” Ah, you’re with your wife? No problem, she can come in and watch.
But anyway, once you get past the riff-raff, homeless, and girly bars (I think they’re girls) near Hinodecho station and up the big hill to the park, it’s very nice. There’s a basketball court and a great play area, as well as a large grassy area. And none of those horrible lunchbox stealing hawks that plague most parks in Japan. I guess the hawks are too high class for Nogeyama.
We had a nice picnic until Me Too got overtired and cried the entire way home. This could, of course, have been avoided if the menfolk had listened to me when I told them we needed to go. But anyway, the kids were in bed early. Me Too is still in her jammies (even though it’s now 11am) and we are both trying to recover from all the fun.
On to the “garten” portion then.
I usually use the word preschool to talk about the school Me Too is starting tomorrow, but it really encompasses the years that American kids spend in preschool and kindergarten. Japanese kids don’t set foot in elementary school until they start first grade. The preschool/kindergarten is really a mix of both in some ways. It’s inflexible about who is in which class and start/finish dates like kindy in the states. The kids spend most of their time learning through play like they would in an American preschool. Then there are lots of other features that are totally Japanese: the uniforms, the million different hats (this is only a slight exaggeration,) the endless PTA meetings and strained mommies lunches….
I usually referr to it in my mind as one of several layers of hell. Peculiar Japanese hell. Kind of like tea ceremony. Looks nice from the outside, but once you get in you realize you can’t stretch your legs, express yourself, or eat the sweets until you swallow down the bitter stuff.
The kindercrapschool requires lots of preparation. Just a rundown of the stuff I’ve done in the past week:
1) Sewn three different bags. The school says you can buy these, technically, but the sizes are wierd. The one that comes to mind is 26x32cm. I can only imagine they do this to either a) make my life hard or b) identify the slacker moms right away. I refuse to make my slacker status identification that easy! I like to keep them guessing for the first couple of days.
2)Sewn name tags into every uniform item, along with an identifying mark. These kids are too little to read, so we were told to either add a stamp or button or something to the stuff so the kids know it’s theirs. Me Too is going with a Minnie Mouse theme, so all of her uniform items have a Minnie button sewed on them. (Skirt,shirt,necktie,blazer, PE shirts and shorts.)
3)Added name pins to two uniform hats.
4) Sewn on badge and name tag to P.E. hat. See? I wasn’t exaggerating about the hats.
5) Iron-on name tags to socks and undies that are left at school just in case.
6) Sewn class color flag to the emergency cushion hat the kids have in case of an earthquake. Let’s just call it the Oh Sh!t hat.
7) Iron-on name tag to Oh Sh!t hat.
8) Put little name stickers on EVERY item in her supply box. Crayons, scissors, glue, etc.
9) Sewn on name badge to sweaters she will wear to school on cold days.
10) Iron-on white name tags to bags. For some reason the bags have to have big white name tags on them.
11) Added Minnie luggage tag type things to her school issued backpack and shoes bag.
12) Added trim, Minnie badges, and name tags to the winter smock and summer smock.
Whew. Finally finished it all this morning. The end result is that all of the kids look the same in their uniforms, but when you look closely, they are all a little different. It’s a good lesson, actually, that dressing appropriately does not mean losing your individuality. But damn, it was a lot or work for me!
All of this was made much worse because of this swelling in the fingers of my left hand. The left index finger is particularly bad and painful. It looks kind of deformed, with the upper join swollen on the inside, the big knuckle swollen on the other side. Threading a needle and peeling off stickers and stuff was frustrating. I guess I’ll have to go to the doctor (again) as it has been more than the six weeks he told me to wait and see. I have a feeling I know what they’ll say, considering a different doctor found rheumatoid factor in a blood test I had for something else when Me First was a baby. I don’t want to hear it. It’s one thing to be in a bit of pain today and have hope of feeling better tomorrow, it’s something different when they start throwing around words like “inflammation” and “auto-immune disease.” But then again maybe it will be nothing, I’d love a diagnosis that forbids me from washing dishes and taking part in PTA, but let’s me do whatever else I want.
Tomorrow is entrance ceremony. I got out my suit today to make sure it still fits. It did, surprisingly. Need to go buy some control-top pantyhose this afternoon so I don’t scare anyone.
Guess I better get up and at ‘em. Me First will be ticked if he comes home from school for lunch and finds the lady folk still in their jammy jams.