What the grumpy pants?

Me Too came home with her grumpy pants on today. I’m not exactly sure what happened. She wasn’t feeling terrific this morning after her flu shot yesterday afternoon (and her arm ballooning up soon afterward, eek! Luckily it seemed okay when she woke up.) But she was so happy when she left for school this morning that I was caught completely off guard.
The second grade at the local school cordons off a section of the school ground for growing sweet potatoes. Then every year, they harvest them and cook them in the school kitchen. This year, apparently some evil mutant vegetable-loving mice got into the potato patch and there were much fewer potatoes than usual. 
Nevertheless, tradition is tradition, the show must go on and all that;  Me Too very proudly took her ruffley blue apron to school today. She was so happy when she left; she has been looking forward to this day all year. And yet she was so downtrodden when she came home. 
Apparently her potatoes were rotten on the inside and she couldn’t eat them. This coupled with her being assigned washing duty (the horror!) instead of slicing duty was more than she could bear and resulted  in a crying, screaming fit immediately upon returning to the house.
That doesn’t sound right to me, either.
 I’m not exactly sure what happened. Maybe she’s coming down with something? Maybe there is more to the story of how she ended up washing rotten potatoes? 
She isn’t very good at handling girl drama. She takes things to heart that she would be better off ignoring. I worry about how she will deal with that. It only gets worse with age. Maybe I was lucky. Having both a brother and sister I had ample chances to practice all kinds of conflict management (that means we fought all.the.time.) I went into the world with a lot more experience under my belt, and even then it was hard. Hell, it’s still hard. 
All in all, it ended up being a traumatic afternoon. I finally managed to convince her to go for a walk, which always helps. Both of us. But I won’t be able to convince her to do that forever. She’ll have to manage on her own devices, and I’m not sure I’ve equipped her with what she needs.

Real Christmas

So my kids have never done a “Real Christmas.” I’ve had the freedom to pick and choose what traditions we follow (stockings!) and what we don’t (basically anything I find stressful.)
 This year, we are going to the US for the first time during holiday season, and I’m finding all the shopping and stuff to be a bit overwhelming. I mean, apparently special Christmas pajamas at a thing?? I think someone else is taking care of that.

Most of the year end Japan stuff is just not going to happen. I mean, that giant year end cleaning thing? That doesn’t get proper attention on a good year, much less this one. HRH made up nengajo the other day, then casually declares that yours truly need to write a poem to go in them.
Um, what??
I did do this one year. I should have known that no good deed goes without having a mile taken. My engineer right-brained husband has little understanding (or appreciation for) the creative process. It just doesn’t happen like that. It’s not like solving an equation, you know?
But anyway:
Here’s my poem

Sorry it’s crass

I wrote it cause

Hubby’s an ass.

An Unlikely Ally

I’ve found the most unlikely of allies in my morning struggle to get the kids fed (to HRH’s increasing ridiculous high standards) and out of the house on time without them killing each other in the process.  I leave most days at the same time, so this space-time anomaly that happens every time we move to the foyer has ceased being an incredible annoyance and become a down right pain in the ass and ever loving crisis.

My new friend is asa-ren, morning practice. Apparently, the fifth graders at our school and another school nearby will be battling it out on the basketball court and soccer field some time in February. Every child is required to join a team, and come to practice before school. This kind of heavy handedness would usually piss me off. I mean, what if your kid was a ballet genius who twisted their ankle right before a rehearsal because of stupid school-imposed basketball practice? Sounds like the plot of an after school special.

But for me, right now, this is an unexpected helpmeet. Me First has to leave the house at 7:15. He gets home from school around 4:00. Between snacks and homework and dinner and baths (a little play time if we’re lucky,) it’s a miracle if I get him to bed by 8:00. Sleeping earlier is not a real option, so neither is getting up any earlier. Therefore it follows that he doesn’t have time to struggle through a huge 5-star breakfast. Today was niku-man and salad. Easy enough!

He also doesn’t have time for lounging in front of the heater; Me Too knows she will have time to do her thing after he leaves so is happy enough to let him use the bathroom first, etc.

It reminds me a little bit of when Me Too was still in preschool. Brother would get ready and leave first, then we would have a little girl time to read or play games before she needed to go. Of course back then she didn’t leave the house before 9:00. Funny how our concept of what constitutes an early morning had changed!

Asa-ren is only twice a week. But I’ll take what I can get.

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.

Somebody explain this….

Things have been really quiet on the blog lately. That’s what happens when real life gets busy, I guess.

I’ve started working more mornings now, three or even four, up from one or two last year. Then Holy moly Mary and Josephine somehow I ended up being PTA class rep AGAIN, this time for the fifth grade. As if there weren’t 25 other mothers (and 26 fathers) and an exponential number of grandparents who are better suited for this than me simply by virtue of being literate in Japanese. Or so I assume (granted HRH, judging by his tendency to eff up paperwork, is iffy.)

Of course none of these jobs are through the same organization. That would be too simple, too normal. What’s the fun in doing anything if it doesn’t make life more complicated? (That’s sarcasm, y’all, in case you were unsure. The only things I complicate on purpose are grammar structures.)

I leave at the same time as the children, or will be since one of my teaching gigs starts next month, two or three times a week. And-lo and behold- thus far those leaving-at-the-same-time mornings go much more smoothly than the other mornings.

What is up with that?

Thought having said it, and worse, written it down, I now need to knock on wood, cross my fingers, throw salt over my shoulder, and stick a needle in my eye. (Hope that covers it.)

In other news, both of the little shits boys who were aggravating Me First last year are in a different class. Hallelujah, praise the lord! His teacher is a hard ass, which is exactly what he needed. They had shuji (Japanese calligraphy) class the other day, and the teacher got onto him about not having cleaned his calligraphy set since the last class.

Me First wisely chose not to divulge the particular details of his shuji set cleaning habits (as in he has never once actually cleaned it.)

As soon as he came home, he went right into the bathroom and started washing all the bits and bobbles. I was holding my breath, thinking there was going to be permanent shuji ink all over my g.d. bathroom, but who’dathunkit, I bought him washable ink last year. So cleaning up his cleaning up was not as traumatic as I was expecting.

Yay, me.

Me Too is coughing and spluttering, hopefully it’s getting better. Another reason I haven’t been writing much is because we’ve been on the sickness merry-go-round and who wants to read about that? Heaven forbid someone Google “asthma” and it lead them here. Bless your heart, I cannot be of any help there besides to commiserate. It sucks. Well, I guess actually it rasps and wheezes. I’ll leave the puns at that.

I need a good sign-off to write here at the bottom…. Ideas?

Schedule me a Nightmare

So, as you may remember, I work at my kids’ old preschool one day a week. I also teach one class on Saturdays. It looks like I may be picking up some work on a couple of other weekday mornings, but that’s assuming I can avoid this spiraling vortex of scheduling madness.

I took statistics in college. I totally sucked it, but I’m still pretty sure that having this much trouble scheduling something that should be relatively simple is highly unlikely. Like a DeLorean getting struck by lightning twice in the same movie unlikely.

Look it up, younglings, then thank me later.

The first problem is that one of these places wants me to go to training. Fair enough. But it’s far away and early in the morning and I don’t have anyone to watch my kids before school starts. I realize I could let them wander the neighborhood like monkeys at on onsen, but those monkeys creep me out.

Then of course this overlaps with some days we are supposed to take turns walking the kids to school. They are expected to go all on their lonesome all freaking year long, except for the first and last weeks of school. The first? I understand that. The last is just like (◎_◎) Why? Why is this different from all of the other weeks in the school year?

I don’t want to even get into all the other messiness. Writing it down is just making me tired.

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