Twenty Questions

Me Too enjoys playing twenty questions when we are killing time on the train. She calls it twenty-five questions, which is a good indicator of both her understanding of the game and respect for rules in general.

Me:Is it a person?
Me:Is it a man?
MT: yes!
Me:Is it a real man, not from TV?
MT: I don’t know. He’s old.
Me:Older than mommy?
MT: I don’t know. He’s dead.
Me:Is he an American?
Me: George Washington?
MT: No. Maybe he’s French.
Me: Napoleon?
MT: No, he is not a killer.
Me: Can I have a hint?

MT: He likes the bonjour cheese!
Me:(bewildered) I give up.
MT: Leonardo da Vinci!


I have little hope of winning this game…


Oh, the agony that is fifth grade homework! Like Barbie says, “Math is hard.” Especially when you insist on doing it spread across every horizontal surface in the living room, with both the TV and the computer/radio on, and get right up in your sister’s face and flick eraser bits at her.

He had the TV on in Japanese and the music in English…. I don’t know how that works. I can’t process both at the same time like that. Actually, I can’t even speak one language when there is background music in the other. (I assume this is the test of a true bilingual versus a flakey old fakety fake like myself. Fluent perhaps, but not totally bilingual.) And then to do math with all that going on? I mean it was numbers and (shudder) decimals.

Me Too escaped to her room with her dollies. Then she wouldn’t let me join.

Fly Lord Girls

So this post is about girls. Me Too had a run-in with the resident Mean Girl today that left her feeling wronged and betrayed when the kids who saw what actually happened didn’t stick up for her.

The details aren’t important, and the behavior of all the children is your standard Lord of the Flies stuff. (Anyone else think that should be required reading for teacher training?)

Me Too came home, and instead of telling me she’d had a shitty day, or reaching for the chocolate stash, or venting on Facebook-all those therapeutic and logical coping mechanisms adults employ- she started picking fights with her brother.

Cue kidmageddon.

I separated the perpetrators for a bit, but then Me Too started freaking out over her homework. She wanted me to read the problems, she didn’t know where to put the equals sign, etc etc ad infinitum.

After close to two hours of this nonsense (I won’t pretend I didn’t have to step outside for a few cleansing breaths,) finally the Mean Girl talk comes out.

Now she feels better, and I have a massive headache that may require vino and a good cry.

WHY are humans so abysmal at communicating? Would it not be more time efficient to just come home with your tail between your legs or something? Shall we try that?

Bad Choices and Coke Bottles

You know those times when you are forced to choose between a number of bad options? No? Then save us both some heartache, and stop reading now.

Long story short, I had to take Me First to work with me today. He had a day off in lieu of having been gone on a school trip Saturday, and after school care staff don’t get there until…after school. The preschool had open house for prospective students and wanted to show off their English program, so taking a day off wasn’t feasible. I could leave him home alone, have him wait at the park next to school, or take him with me. None of these were stellar options, but we survived. Actually, I’m lucky that was an option today. At the other preschools I work at, it wouldn’t have been, leaving me with even less stellar options.

But maybe it will do Me First some good, to see me in some other capacity besides wiper-of-noses and general-shit-cleaner upper.

My dad used to take us to work sometimes.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting at a too-big-for-me college desk, those kind where the writing portion is only on the righthand side. The wood was old and pitted, covered in letters I couldn’t yet read. The desk wasn’t large enough to let me spread out my Cinderella picture book; it was constantly falling down causing me lots of aggravation while my dad was trying to substitute teach. My sister was there, happily kicking her chubby legs back and forth. Where was my brother? Maybe not born yet…

In later years, we would wait in church offices, doodling on old bulletins, pretending not to hear the voices behind Dad’s office door saying so-and-so was drinking again, you-know-who was in jail, this one was beating his wife, that one had no money to buy groceries. All these people who put on their best faces on Sunday morning came in to fall apart on Monday afternoon.

How many summer afternoons did we spend waiting in hospital lobbies while Dad went in to pray with the sick and dying? How many times did we wait in the car while he checked on a shut-in? And don’t get me started on funeral homes…(shudder)

Most times we’d be rewarded with a Coke and a candy bar on the way home. When I was very little it was drunk from the glass bottle right in front of the store, then returned the sweaty bottles then and there for a nickel or a dime.

Dad never made us feel unwanted or in the way. Maybe we were. Maybe he was happy for the company, to share another part of himself, like I was today.

Monster Creation

We went out to eat after English school yesterday. Me First, as is his habit lately, ordered an adult sized meal. It came with a drink. With a twinkle in his eye (and maybe a song in his heart, I’m not sure since I wasn’t privy to that part,) he ordered a hot coffee.

Um, ???

HRH looked at me as if to pass the buck. He could have it, fine, I agreed. But he couldn’t use more than two sugar cubes. I figured if he didn’t finish it, I would. Take one for the team and all that, rah rah. Such hardship.

But I’ll be damned that kid drank the whole coffee like a pro.

Today when we took MIL out for Mother’s Day, he ordered an “afternoon tea” blend. Again, ???

What have we done? Is this a monster in the making? He’s too young to responsibly handle the caffeine addiction that will result from this behavior. Heck, I can’t deal with the fallout! World Peace is in imminent danger every morning until I get my coffee, we can’t go doubling that. It isn’t fair to the rest of Planet Earth.

Finally I told him he had to keep it to one a week. Caffeine stunts your growth, or so the old wive’s tale goes. Plus I can’t afford it if he starts ordering lattes on our weekly coffee dates instead of having a donut with milk.

The Okaasan Box

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck? Packed into a box that is slightly too short so you can’t stand up straight, slightly too narrow so you can’t broaden your shoulders? I’ve been feeling really crammed in and hunched up lately, like the tiger at Nogeyama Zoo, lacking the space and freedom to unleash my wildness and roar to my heart’s content.

But it’s an Okaasan Box, the confine of mothers in Japan. Encased inside that is the Gaijin Box, making my box a bit smaller than normal. Some days my pen feels more constricting than others.

It’s not like any one thing has happened. It’s a myrid of different things, pinches and tweaks and nips that have left me seeping from my semi-collected exterior. It’s walking through a park hearing some guy with a megaphone shouting that all gaijin should die. Not the hearing that, I know he’s a nut job (though I wonder how many people around me agree with him.) But I was walking with my daughter and I had to explain it to her. Snip.

It’s talking to the after care teacher at school and trying to see if something can’t be arranged so I can drop my kids off at the regular school time during the summer instead of the random “summer care” time that is thirty minutes later and will make me late to my class, only to have her respond that “no one else complains.” Scratch.

It’s the lone father at PTA who stood up in front of everyone and said he would pull this group of women into line. Pinch.

It’s my neighbor somewhat gleefully telling me that all the other moms at school think I forgot to make my son’s lunch for his field trip. (I made it; he forgot it.) Would they jump that conclusion if I was a Japanese mom? Shove.

It’s the husband who says I’m worrying too much when the kids at school call my son gaijin, or treats me like a moron when I ask a question about a homework problem, or wakes me up to complain about a glass that has been put away improperly (never mind his crap everywhere.) Smack. Twist. Scrape. Punch.

So what is a person to do? I could decorate the box, I suppose, as if I had picked it out myself. I could pretend it isn’t there, that it is actually quite roomy, that I don’t notice it much of the time. I could stare at it’s walls, forlorn, and give up any thought of a life outside of the box. I could break the box, smash it beneath my fists and pound on it until it splinters into a million pieces. But others would be hit by the debris. And as women we must always value others.

Others others others others others others others others

Never me. Never we. Never ourselves.

Well, that was cheerful. Have a nice weekend.

Circle of Sickness

Hells bells, if it isn’t one thing it’s another. Just as we’re getting over a cycle of nasty cough/sinus infection/ear infection that aggravated one child’s asthma and the other’s contentious personality, Me Too wakes up this morning with pinkeye.

Um, seriously?

I get that it’s all as interconnected up in there as a conversation amongst Southerners (or possibly Australians…all the ones in Japan seem to know each other) but come on y’all this is just crazy.

And expensive.

HRH wanted to argue with me this morning that Me Too couldn’t have pinkeye because her eyes aren’t swollen. They were sealed shut with goopety goop when she woke up this morning, mind you, and red.

Where is that mute button again? Ah right, “Have some more toast honey,” then shut up! Because you don’t know what you are talking about, but yet continue to make noise.

I’ve been getting everyone to bed a bit earlier and feeding them more fruit and veg but it doesn’t seem to be helping much.

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