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.

Down stairs

So I spoke too soon the other day when I said you were all caught up.

Me Too and I fell down the stairs at the station. Well, technically, she fell down and pulled me with her. Seriously, at what age will this child learn that skipping steps on the way down is to tempt fate? Unkind, ironic fate. Skipping steps on the way up = a good butt workout, on the way down = a sprained ankle, a sprained knee on the other leg, and a bruise on my ribs. Luckily, luckily I had boots on. It would have been so much worse if I hadn’t had boots on.

The ankle and ribs were sore for a few days, but now they’re fine. Me Too seems to have suffered no injury at all, probably because I broke her fall. Or maybe because she’s bouncy in that way little girls are, I don’t know. She cried for a bit, then yelled at ME for scaring her. So sorry your pulling me down a flight of stairs scared you, sweetheart.

Nah, we both know I totally didn’t say that.

Anyway, as soon as that got better, I immediately caught a cold. Fate…unkind, ironic, redundant.

Feeling a bit better today. I got the washing out at a decent time without needed to stop several times to watch TV, so that’s progress.

Splish Splash

I may have mentioned this before, but Me First is something of an animal fanatic. He loves animals, all kinds of animals, and talks about them constantly, often repeating himself. Constantly.

We live near an aquarium, Hakkeijima Sea Paradise. Well actually it’s an amusement park with an aquarium, a big tank full of dolphins and a sunfish, and an outdoor lagoon type area when you can climb around on rocks and touch the starfish and various other sea slimeys.

We have yearly passes to this place, mainly because that allows us to go and see one aquarium or do a couple of things without it turning into a long and drawn-out day of animal maniac kid wanting to see everything and spend forever there, while the kid with just average interest gets bored out of her gourd.

Recently, Hakkeijima acquired a pair of sea otters. Me First was, of course, eager to go see them. But since these are still young animals getting used to their new home, they are only display for a few minutes each day. We decided to go to the lagoon area, let the kids torture enjoy the animals there for a bit, and then offer our greetings to the new inhabitants.

Great plan. Until Me First slipped and fell, butt first, into the water, soaking his jeans and his shirt in the process. We ended up having to go home before the otters were brought out.

Never fear, gentle readers, we have yearly passes so we went back the next weekend.

Me First didn’t fall in the water this time, but he stuck both hands in without rolling up his sleeves. He also didn’t notice that the jacket he had tied around his waist was more than half submerged in the water.

Whacha gonna do, right?

It wasn’t too cold, so we stayed to watch the otters and then came home to change.

My husband said we should bring a change of clothes next time we come. I think perhaps we should just dress him in these.


Pumpkin Pancakes

Me Too has been nagging me a lot recently, wanting to know what I am going to make for “Halloween dinner.”

The answer of course, is nothing special.

Then she told me she really wants me to make pumpkin pancakes, please please pleeeezzz.

I’m all like, “You don’t even like pumpkin!”

Then she’s all like, “Not pumpkin flavored, jack-o’lantern shaped.”

Then I’m all like, “Awww helllll no.” But I just say that with my eyes.

But I mean, seriously (◎_◎;)?

When did Halloween start being a pain in the ass for me? Isn’t it all about kids looking cute and then eating their body weight in sugary treats? Store bought costumes and candy and then maybe the grown-ups getting sloshed later? We need to preserve our energy for Thanksgiving and lord-help-us Christmas, right?

I’m hoping this is just her taking a Japanese cultural thing and trying to overlay it on Halloween. I mean, I already know that any Japanese holiday thing is going to mean loads of extra work for me. (I’m looking at you, New Year’s with your oosoji big cleaning bullshizzit.)

This pumpkin pancakes preposterousness is not a worldwide phenomenon, is it?


I am, in general, a pretty good dealer of the shit. I can put up with a lot. Life in a foreign country, with a spouse who speaks a different language and lives life by a whole other set of values, has that effect on a girl. Not to mention the sheer fortitude of will required to get through a morning of PTA bullshit counting out “bell marks,” (proofs of purchase,) and pink work gloves that I-shit-you-not we will be using for Sports Day.

Will take pix, don’t worry.

And then there’s the picky eating and the post-tonsillectomy-ban on crunchy foods that apparently no other adult on planet earth can comprehend, add in the daughter’s birthday requests that MIL completely fucked up leading to a do-over today. I got all that, no problemo.

But a friend made some revelations that knocked the wind out of me, family is weird, and I’ve been plunged into that time of year when memories of my Dad are closing in and making it hard to function. I’m finding myself at my emotional limit, but it’s not like when you walk around with a cast or something. No one knows. No one can see.

I guess we’re all dealing with shit, all the time. Better to be nice to each other because it could get dangerous out there.

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