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.

Mean Encounters

Me Too has had her first run-in with the resident Mean Girl. I guess it’s good all of her brother’s experiences have steeled my heart or I’d be out there with my sword bared, swashbuckling with abandon.

She’s been talking about this girl a lot recently, how she had a short temper and a sharp tongue. Perhaps I should have realized something was up, because it isn’t like Me Too to focus on one person so negatively for so long.

She’s also been a little moody, a little unwilling to get up or get ready. This morning she has a pretty classic tantrum. But she can’t tantrum hard enough to phase me, after having survived her brother’s tantruming par excellence.

It all came out this afternoon, how this one little girl got mad at Me Too when she didn’t do as she was told, and said, “Everyone who hates Me Too raise their hand!”


It sounds small.

In the grand scheme of things, it is small. But I know what that feels like. I could tell from the big, heavy, spherical tears spilling over the rim of her lashes that it had hurt.

What can you say? The truth? There are horrid girls, and they grow up to be horrid women who pass judgment on other women and make us miserable. They never go away; there will be few periods in your life when you are free from such people.

That truth seems to harsh for my first grader.

So I just hugged her and let her tears spill on my shoulder, hardened by experience, toughened by necessity. One day, Me Too will be just as hard and tough, if not more. And that this transformation is a necessity is one of the saddest things about growing up.


So I finally settled on some resolutions for this year. Surprisingly enough, ceasing to procrastinate is not one of them. Maybe we’ll try that next year.

I resolve to eat more fish. This may be strange, considering we live in Japan and fish is abundant and, to be honest, cheaper than other kinds of meat. We’ve kind of gotten out of the habit of eating a lot of fish over the last year and I’d like to fix that. The store with lots of fresh fish options went out of business, the other one only has lots of good options a couple of days a week, and up until now I haven’t bothered to remember when those are. The kids eat more now, and deboning four pieces of fish is time consuming and not really easy to do, what with semi-numb fingers from carpal tunnel all the time. (Yes, that is still going on. Amazing what becomes the new “normal,” eh?)

Resolution Número Dos is to be kinder to myself. This will be hard, I think, since there’s no shortage of negative feedback in my life. But you know, I’ve been trying to be all things for all people for a long time, and it ain’t working out very well. Certain people are just never happy, no matter how hard I try. So I’ll do what I can do, and the rest? You’ll find it by the wayside. I’m not going to obsess about it anymore.

I’m a hard worker, in general, but there are weeks when getting out of bed and getting dressed is a big accomplishment, you know? You can label it. You can medicate it. You can chastise and demean it until you’re blue in the face. I’ve had all that done to me, and I’ve done it to myself. I don’t wallow in it and I don’t let it define me. But sometimes it means I need to give myself a break. I’m not beating myself up about that anymore. It isn’t helpful; I need the energy elsewhere.

The last resolution is to try to have more fun with the kids. This past year seems to have been a lot about getting up and getting ready for school, coming home and doing homework, getting to bed on time, being a lot like a drill sergeant. And I think we’re all tired of it.

The kids and I played a game of Simon Says last night. They were ridiculously excited about it. It made me feel good and bad, warm and cold, proud and guilty all at the same time. So we’ll play more and maybe sleep little later. Unless. I have PMS, then it’s probably in everyone’s best interest to just go to bed.



On New Year’s Eve, we watched Kohaku, the annual “live” music competition on TV. (I use quotation marks because some of those groups were obviously not singing live, but I suppose they could have been throwing their voices ventriloquist style.) There is a white team, for male artists, and a red team, for female artists, though there is some weird give and take to account for the ever prevalent new-half transgender talent and just to shake things up a bit.

Luckily, my kids haven’t realized it’s girls against boys yet or there would have been a war of the sexes right in my living room. They were both on the white team for Sports Day this year, so they were cheering for the white team.

I didn’t know half of the performers, perhaps because I spent the latter half of 2014 switching between the 19th century with a series of books about Robert E Lee and his family and the 18th century with the Outlander series. Notes to self: next time you decide to start a civil war sign up Robert E Lee’s wife for a general. If you are ever in need of medical care and must go see Claire, bring earplugs so you don’t have to listen to how advanced society was in the 1940s.

At some point the children went to bed, and I spent the rest of the evening Facebooking snarky comments about Kohaku.

It was great. :)

New Year’s Day. HRH went jogging as soon as he got up. All good for him, but we were supposed to be at his parents at 8 and woke up at 7. Which was a bit of a lie-in. Anyway, I had to do the laundry and the kid-readying and lots of crap before we left. Meanwhile, he came home and took a shower, thus occupying our one bathroom when three other people needed to get in it. At 8:05 his parents called, wondering where we were, and he told them I wasn’t ready yet.


We had the normal nasty osechi for breakfast, then settled into a day of not doing anything. It snowed, which made it kind of worse because it was cold and wet outside but not sticking.

POS BIL has been shooting his mouth off for days and days now. He vacillates between being quite gentle and friendly with the kids, to teasing them in a mean way and making mean comments. He also seems to be the only person on earth who is immune to my death stare. So, yeah. That’s problematic.

HRH has been itching and itching to go somewhere for days now; the man cannot stay at home, but it is crowded everywhere (as you would expect when an entire populous nation takes the same five days off.) Plus there is this whole issue with Me Too having a phobia of the New Year’s dancing dragon things, which are quite literally in every shopping center and public space this time of year. We barely made it home a few weeks ago when we came across at least a hundred of them practicing in an open area in front of the station.

Today, I finally relented and we went to the shrine. Or actually it’s a Buddhist temple thing right next to a shrine, cover all your bases in one convenient space- type of place. The kids bought their fortunes (sho-kichi, or little luck, for both of them,) and they came in these cute little wooden containers. People had placed these everywhere on the temple grounds, so we had a nice sort of hide-and-seek looking for them.

Tonight, it’s more listening to BIL shoot his mouth off.

Wish me luck, people.

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