Chalk it Up to Experience

Who’d a-thunk a little sidewalk chalk could cause such a ruckus?

It started out innocently enough. The kids went to the sandbox downstairs. Me Too wanted to play hopscotch, so I let her take a new set of sidewalk chalks she’d received as a gift. I also gave her a spray bottle to clean up the mess afterwards. We’ve done this at least a thousand times before with no cringe-worthy incidents.

A few minutes later, I noticed the new kids who’d moved in next door over the weekend were outside playing, too. I can see the sandbox from my window; from their house you cannot. A few minutes later, I noticed MIL had wandered outside.


So now the kids were well supervised, or so I thought, so I didn’t check on them as much as I normally would have. I did notice the neighbor’s kid writing all over the sidewalk. I warned them they would have to clean it up. But come on, it’s chalk, right? A little rain and it’s like it never happened. The girls next door are doing it all the time, although on a different sidewalk.

A few minutes later I get a call from my neighbor that I need to come down and apologize.


Some grumpy old man had come out and yelled at the kids for making such a mess. The kid who’d done the writing lied and said Me Too did it. Meanwhile Granny Dearest is doing nothing to help. Neighbor Mom hears the ruckus and thinks I need to come out and take care of it.

Things I hate about Japan # 2010- having to apologize for stupid sh!t all the freaking time.

Me Too should have stopped Neighbor Boy from making such a big mess, maybe. The neighbor is the older of the two and probably knew better. I shouldn’t have trusted MIL to watch the kids for thirty minutes or so, true.

But for chrissake, it shouldn’t have been such a big freaking deal. If you don’t want to deal with kids and the messes they make, then may I suggest NOT buying an apartment right in front of the sandbox?

The kids make a mess; the kids get yelled at; the kids clean it up. Sounds like a good learning experience to me. Mommy coming out and apologizing and helping with the clean up DOES NOT send a message I want my kids to hear. Explains a lot about why Japanese people think the way they do, though.

And WTH was MIL doing all this time?

Her stalking is getting out of hand, actually. She stopped Me Too and a group of his friends on the way home from school the other day. They were having a good chat, I guess, but the kids were late coming home. I got worried and went out to look for them and then


There she was. To the other kids she’s just some creepy stalker lady in the neighborhood. Considering that there have been problems with weirdoes stopping kids on the way home from school, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the other mothers called the cops. Maybe that’s what it will take for MIL to stop stalking us.

In that event, I will of course be posting the mug shot.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. illahee
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:53:40

    oh, that is so annoying!! and i hear ya on the useless MIL. at least mine isn’t a stalker!

    i remember the first time i let the kids play with sidewalk chalk and they wrote all over the street in front of our house (it was a very quiet street then). yoshi just about had a heart attack when he got home. he was so stressed out, he thought someone had written all over the street in order to fix it. when he realized a child (or children) had written it, he got so angry! i thought, what’s the big deal? he thought the neighbors would be “surprised” and, oh, i dunno, crash their cars or something. i thought it was cute, and pretty obvious children wrote it. he actually went outside with a bucket and a brush and washed the street! since then, it’s been fine, though. the kids really love writing in the street. too bad there are more houses here now.


  2. Xana
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:21:35

    All my students moms are always shocked that I let the kids write all over the driveway and really any concrete surface we own with chalk. Why? It’s chalk, it washes off, get a grip people!

    Can you encourage someone to report MIL? Or disguise your gaijinity well enough to do it yourself? (:


  3. gaijinwife
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 13:03:26

    Bloody hell. Sidewalk chalk is great entertainment. Fortunately we have a big concrete wall and driveway the kids write on instead. Does MIL actually live next door? Or does she have to go out of her way quite a lot to check up on you? I have made the mistake of thinking Granny K is ‘watching the children’ too and then when I go in to check ‘Oh, they all ran over to the temple next door ten minutes ago’. Grrrrr.


    • hamakkomommy
      Mar 14, 2012 @ 14:23:48

      They live about fifty meters away. The sandbox is visible from both our houses.

      Haven’t had MIL watch the kids since she and PIL both fell asleep when I asked them to babysit Me Too and she wandered outside. Real trustworthy.

      Sidewalk chalk IS good fun. Apparently it’s just not something Japanese people do. Which is probably why the neighbor’s kids were enjoying ti so much.

      Kids actually had a blast cleaning it up, too.


  4. Kym (@kymmytha)
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 15:19:38

    Ha ha ha!!! And that old guy OWNS the footpath, I’m sure. It doesn’t take long for it to rain in this country, sheesh. People are so good at making a huge deal out of nothing, and then when something IS a big deal, they’re great at ignoring it. *Thank you* for your blog, love it. (And Illahee’s comment gave me a good laugh too.)


  5. chrysanthemummum
    Mar 14, 2012 @ 19:42:04

    I think a lot of Japanese people are incapable of truly enjoying themselves and hate to see other people, especially children, having fun.


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