JAPAN: The Preschool Mom

JAPAN: The Preschool Mom

I see you on your black skirt suit, with the waist that doesn’t quite fit the same anymore and the blouse that doesn’t quite work when one is out with a toddler. It’s been awhile since you wore it. Your heels are just slightly dusty, and you are unconsciously rubbing your feet together in a way that betrays you are no longer used to wearing them.

I have been where you are, at the preschool interview (most preschools in Japan seem to require this,) with an uncooperative two-year-old. No one else’s kid seems to have a permanent cow-lick or is crying like mine is, you think. I can tell, because I have thought that, too.

Preschool Class

Preschool Class

But now I am on the teaching staff, on the other side of the table, so to speak, and I can tell you that we have seen multiple cowlicks today, and that the kids who don’t cry at the interview are no less likely to cry on the first day of school.

I wish I could give you a hug and tell you to relax. Of course we can’t love your child as much as you do, but we will come close! And since we send the kids home at two o’clock, all of those aggravating things that drive you bonkers will not be such a problem here.

I also want to tell you that it is okay to consider your own needs when choosing a preschool for your child. If you can’t handle making a bento every morning, by all means find a place that serves lunch. If you can’t deal with homework, then go for someplace that is play based. There are years and years of homework ahead of you both!

You don’t have to go where Daddy went, or where grandma thinks is best, or where the clique of neighborhood moms go. Look and listen, see the child that you have. Know who you are, and what your limits are. Then choose a place that best meets the needs of you both.

Of course I can tell you none of this, as you wrestle your feet out of your heels and into your indoor shoes, tugging your son along, the both of you getting increasingly frustrated. I try to give you a sympathetic smile, but you may not notice.

Best of luck to you, dear. Best of luck to you both.

What advice would you give to moms of younger children of you could?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer in Japan and mother of two, Melanie Oda.

Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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JAPAN: Watching and Waiting

JAPAN: Watching and Waiting

Teru-teru Bozu

As I write, the kids (and my husband) are glued to the TV, watching the weather, trying to determine when and where Typhoon #17 will make landfall, carefully calculating whether or not they will have to go to school (and work).

I’ve spent the morning doing laundry while I can (having no dryer puts the laundry at the mercy of the heavens), doing the grocery shopping while I can, and bringing inside anything that might be blown away or blown into a window. Been there, done that, paid 5000 yen.

The winds have picked up a bit, and the air has turned heavy and humid. The children have to periodically brush away the curtains that keep being blown into their faces as they play by the open window on the floor.

They will go to bed tonight, excited and anxious, like American kids waiting for a snow day. Except of course there will be no playing outside in a typhoon! They’re looking forward to staying home, watching daytime TV, building a metropolis out of legos, and (I’ll be honest) fighting with each other. (more…)

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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JAPAN: Too Soon (Robot Dog)

I had really hoped this year would be the year.

The year I could put the Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Day) dolls out in the living room where we could enjoy them. It’s such a nice tradition: displaying beautifully intricate (and sickeningly expensive) dolls in traditional seven-layered kimonos for the weeks leading up to Girls’ Day on March 3rd, when the whole family pauses to pray for the health and well-being of daughters before feasting on feminine, cutesy foods, like tiny sushi and soup with delicate candy colored balls, followed by pink and green omochi (sticky, sweet rice cakes) for desert. ¬†Ladies magazines are full of hina (imperial princess) themed recipes. This year I think we’ll try the “parfait sushi,” which is sushi rice layered with eggs and other colorful ingredients in a glass so it looks like a parfait. I’m also thinking of ordering a Hina Matsuri themed ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins (known here as 31 Ice.)

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and moms often go awry. Or something like that. (more…)

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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