Archive | February, 2014

Tranlsation Bollocks

28 Feb

Really not that much to report. I am in translation-hell at the moment.

Although, I guess it’s not hell because I do enjoy it and just have to keep thinking about the ching da ching at the end of the tunnel. I can’t and shouldn’t really complain that the university is taking the piss but, hey, I’m going to anyway…

I got 3 business case studies at the end of last year. average 28 A4 pages (full writing) each. We organized a price before hand per case. All good. Except as per usual I don’t squash it in because I usually go weeks or months without other translation work.

Had kind of forgotten we’d organized that they would give me enough work this year for me to be taken off hub’s list of ‘dependants’. Need lots more for that to be viable because I now have to pay pension, social security, insurance rah rah.  So, when they asked me last week if I could handle another 70 page file…..

I looked at the file. It wasn’t a brain tax but it was very time-consuming.

So I said yes. Cause I fly like that. Am also perhaps half a bit crazy. So crazy in fact that the university expressed its concern at me being so busy but IF I HAPPENED TO HAVE ANY EXTRA TIME how much could I take on in addition to all the other shite…

So I said a page a day. If its easy then it will only take me maybe 40 minutes and be a nice break away from Seminar surveys and roast Chinese pork, and if it looks like it will take too long (is too technical or hard) then I’ll just turn it down. So they started sending easy shit like articles for the webpage and shit. And I did them really fast – cause it was a nice break. So I’d send them off and then half an hour later I’d get another mail and FUCK ME SIDEWAYS, All I can wonder is WHAT did they do before they started sending shit to me?

When I actually worked there I had lots of translations to do but now their policy is to hire more English speaking Japanese staff to handle the students directly and hire us off siters to translate.

Has been a juggling match I tell ya – mainly because I get so many emails and don’t write shit down as soon as I should – like, please change who this invoice is sent to rah rah. It’s painful. The other place I translate for is so much easier! EVERYTHING is online and they work out the invoices and I just go online when I like and tick the boxes of the invoices I want paid – which means I can regulate when they go into my bank account, AND which bank account they go into!!

Off shore Caribean or otherwise.

So, end of March is my big deadline for 160 pages. Have no idea how many posts you’ll get between now and then.

In other quick news I had Ryu’s pre-school meeting today. He moves up from kinder to pre-school in April and we had to spend an hour listening to the exact size of the hand towels and length of loops we had to sew on them. Turns out the teacher would like us to hand write all the name tags (that go on everything – each individual pencil and crayon) and NOT buy them already printed with child’s name.

Well that can fuck off cause I already got Ryu’s for pre-school and Marina’s for primary school off the internet like four months ago in a Rakuten sale.

Sigh, Sigh, Sigh.

One year its this and the next its that.

Am flying the white flag of gaijin ignorance and ‘I’ll just do what I want’ness.

SDGH&QL

That Busy Time of Year

25 Feb

Right, I have about ten minutes before I get behind on today’s list of shit that needs to be done. I am in the midst of that big case study translation I got at the end of last year – due mid-March. I’m doing good. Right on schedule (pats self on back). But then on Friday I did something  a bit silly. I said yes to another 60 page translation. Due the same day. Faaaaaaaaaaaaark. It isn’t overly taxing on my brain per se but the time is a different story.

Mothers around the country are about to embark on the busiest time of year – especially if they have a child in a club sports team or finishing one school and starting another. I really need to try and keep everything together over the next three weeks. If I stop and think about it too long then I’m afraid it will all just get a bit overwhelming and I’ll have to crawl into a fetal position and start sucking my thumb, in between skulling back wine and forgetting everything on aforementioned list.

Explanation Sessions – one for Marina which was last week and involved 3 hours of listening to the current first graders (Shou and HTB) play the pianica, do a pictorial outline of the school year, sing four songs and teach the to-be first graders (Marina plus seven others) how to make a jumpy frog thing out of cardboard and rubber bands. Followed by the teacher reading directly from a piece of paper we had all been given about prep for starting school and exactly how big the book bag needs to be. Followed by the principal doing his speel on home environments, playing too many games, watching too much tv, and stranger danger. They then left the parents to decide who would be first grade class rep parent and who would do the speech at the entrance ceremony in April.

I’m still getting over the trauma of being kinder PTA head the last year – the year the teachers decided to make us in charge of half the summer festival and me subsequently getting all anal and spending the equivalent of an entire working week making crocodiles out of milk cartons and PVC pipes.

So naturally, when everyone started inspecting the carpet and counting the dots on the ceiling at the meeting, I took it upon myself to nominate someone for the entrance ceremony speech. All in favor? Right, motion approved or whatever. Done. Let’s go home so I can translate more on the enrollment ratio of seminar classes in the undergraduate college of international studies, and make more headway into the other translation on the BBQ Chinese Pork company.

Ryu’s meeting for him starting the two-year pre-school is this Friday and should not be confused with the end of year PTA kinder meeting next week which is all morning, followed in the afternoon by the end of year PTA meeting for the school. I am part way through trying to convince hub to take the day off so he can go and I can stay home and work.

Last night was a soccer meeting where I nearly had to scratch my eyeballs out with a very blunt object it was that fuckin boring. I have obviously not assimilated myself enough into the WA of Japanese culture to be able to partake in pissy indecisive bollocksy meetings when I have 90 pages of translation waiting, kids to put in the bath and homework to check.

All the kids have ‘owakare ensoku’ next week, to farewell the kids leaving from the kinder and school, there’s 3 different end of academic year drinky things in March, there’s all the naming of school shit I need to do for Marina, there’s all the end of year shit hub has on and… and…. and….

FUUUUUUUUUUCK, and then I have to apply for two new NZ passports, three new Japanese ones, send off three NZ school enrollment forms along with copies of citizenship and vaccination records – which I in turn can’t do until Ryu and Marina have the vaccinations they are due in the next two weeks.

BUT, the good news is I booked the tickets home yesterday!

We. Are. Going.

It. Is. All. Booked.

Tickets, check. Relevant people told. Accommodation down payment, check. Schools informed.

Now I just have to work to pay for it all.

SDGH&QL

Day 4: Difficult Wines & Semi-Roughing It

19 Feb

Hmmm, I knew I should have finished the NZ trip diaries sooner!!

Day 4 we woke up and had a slow morning. Fuck, actually no we didn’t. Well, I guess it was slow compared to being up with three kids at 6am but we were out for ‘brunch’ (brunch is like a taboo word when you’re a mum. Damn the bastards that get to eat brunch every weekend. My kids wake up EARLIER on the bloody weekends!) I had a smoothy and a Panini – which isn’t very brunchy I know but we had had a huge conversation about ‘snotty eggs’ – that bit they sometimes don’t fuckin cook right and you get clear snotty shit on your eggs Benedict. Bleh.

After breaky we had ourselves (us girls – while the bro stayed at home with the remote control and sky TV) booked into a spa and massage place.

I know, I know. I’m sorry.

But my elephantiasis airplane feet were horrendous and the sisters decided to get on the case. This place was not only the best place but also had a specific ‘jetlag for tired feet’ one hour special.

I got a lovely guy from Bali – who practiced some Japanese on me as soon as he knew I was ya know,  Japanese with my Japanese name. HE. WAS. GREAT. Had the magical hands of a god!

My feet were HALF the size when I left 🙂

So we went shoe shopping.

For my benefit apparently, although my sister bought 800 dollars worth of shoes and I bought some body gel… :p

Then off we set, to the inner countryside of Oturehua, where mum and dad are buried, where the wedding was to take place.

We had to go past a difficult mountain full of wines. MT. difficulty in fact.

I can’t adhere to the greatness of the wines as the wine tasting set was too much for the middle of the day and if it left the others unfit to drive then I’d have too, despite fact actually not allowed as have no current NZ license and/or international license.

Can I say here that the establishment makes their ‘wine taster’ so that the drinker will still be ‘under the limit’. (but, on an extra note, if any Japanese person drank that much they would be floored and actually it is NOT a safe limit to drink.( NZ  ‘wants’ to drop the drink driving acident level and yet has crazy limits.  It should be ZERO’)

Anyhoo, we made it to the middle of the earth, or the end of the world, or whatever it is best describes central Otago.

The accommodation..

was lovely

quite quaint in fact.

we didn’t have a toilet and three of us had to sleep in the same farty, too much wine drunk, too cold at night to leave the windows open, smelly room. I really need to get some photos up!

Had fabulous sleep. But having to trapse to the outside loo in the middle of the night… not too excited about that but what can ya do? Half the cousins were in tents in the paddock next door so I guess we had it good in comparison 🙂

xxx

zzzzzzzz

SDGH&QL

Told HTB’s Mum

17 Feb

On Fridays I have HTB’s English class – with him and four first graders from the school in town. I had everything planned last Friday. I’d invite the mum over after English but before having to pick the other kids up from kinder (a 45 minute window). I’d have the train tracks in the other room so HTB could play to his hearts content and me and his mum could talk about how I was deserting her child and taking my kids back to NZ for six months.

But then one of the kids from the class got the bloody flu – so I had to cancelled the whole class.

Decided to invite her anyway. She didn’t see my txt until like 4pm and then asked if I could just tell her over the phone and I said I’d rather talk to her in person yaddah yaddah yaddah.

So she came and I put the coffee on. I was all nervous and shit – like LOADS more nervous than telling the school principal. And yes, I realise I shouldn’t be nervous. It is a fabulous decision about my children’s education, heritage, culture, future, rah rah. But, this is Japan. And if you are doing what I’m doing in Japan, these occasions can be a bit nerve-wracking. I am essentially upsetting the ‘wa’ for six months. The school ‘wa’, the volunteer and reading ‘wa’, the soccer ‘wa’, the dance ‘wa’ and the English class ‘wa’.

Went and spilt my entire coffee over the bloody table I did.

Thankfully I missed her and her bank OL (office lady) outfit. Filled another cup, took a deep breath and told her. She was a bit surprised. I hadn’t worded it quite right. She thought I was leaving hub and Japan for good and never coming back! Tis the difference between saying ‘going home’ and ‘taking home’.  Haha, that’ll learn me.

Because HTB will be in a mixed class with the third graders next year he will never be on his actual own. She would prefer he stay and agrees that transferring schools for ever – for a mere three months that Shou isn’t there – is kinda stink. BUT, she also knows her husband will have the final say, and at the moment it seems like he is looking for anything to get HTB away from Shou. Especially after last weeks ‘bullying’ episode.

(which by the way I had to fill in a questionnaire for last night – not specific to that episode but a third term ‘bullying’ questionnaire. We get one every term. Hub told me I shouldn’t label it as bullying as surely there was some blame with HTB – as in the fact he can’t walk fast enough and in fact is a silly bugger on the way to school. Full. Stop. (Don’t think me a bitch. If his parents would walk a few days with the walking bus, preferably a week or so, then they would KNOW. They don’t. I DO. And its my son that’s getting labelled the ‘bully’, along with three kids who are all older than Shou

(and of course because I’m a mother bear I hold the 10-year-old more responsible than my seven-year old. He should know better).

A bit of a jibe is not ‘bullying’. The boy himself wasn’t even traumatized, it was the mother and father who were more so.   If everyone else in the walking group can fuckin walk to school, and one kid is being a dilly dally, stops to pick up anything, hold up the que, then damn, drive the bloody kid to school if you don’t want to walk with him and sort it out. Gaaaah. The whole thing is so frustrating. ANYHOO, I answered the yes no bits of the questionnaire and hub answered the ‘write what ever the fuck you want’ section.

He said he hoped that should a bullying situation arise, that it was discussed why it came about in the first place (ie: because he was a slow poke walking to school and kept stopping to pick shit up and pointing out makes of cars etc), and that ALL parents needed to be informed and a plan of action decided on by all. I thought that was great. None of this ‘hey, you’re 10 now so you can tell your mum yourself that you’ve been a bully’. Jeeze)

So anyway, the mum left on Friday and I haven’t heard anything back yet – and ditto the school for that matter. Am going for ‘volunteer drill supervision’ tomorrow though so will check with principal re; the education department. And to be honest I don’t really care what HTB’s dad decides to do.

Go try the school in town with 14  boys and two girls and a teacher who doesn’t know how to control the naughty ones. Good luck with that. My son will be fine on his own.

It’s kind of amazing how things have turned. Last year HTB was enrolled in the school in town but we couldn’t get in because of zoning issues – so they decided to leave HTB with Shou, his friend, and not a rowdy class of ruffians…. And now its my son that is bullying him and the source of his potty mouth and the father wants to separate them.

PS, that last sentence was dripping with sarcasm.

I teach HTB. He is not a bloody saint.  and Shou isn’t even in the class with him.

Gasp.

He must come up with some of that potty mouth bad behavior on his own.

nighty night.

enough angst for one evening.

SDGH&QL

Edit: spoke to the principal. He has informed the education board and yes, of course we can go but he will get back to me after they have told him how the school needs to ‘mark it’ on the attendance record. This hasn’t happened in our city before so the city education board has to confirm with the prefectural education board, who probably has to drink fifteen cups of green tea, hold 7 meetings about when to hold the proper meeting, and pass round 734 pieces of paper in pink and green cardboard folders requiring 29 people’s personal stamps, including that of the tea lady who made the original 15 cups of tea.

The Ball – It’s Starting to Roll

13 Feb

Yesterday I was invited to the school for a ‘thank you for helping with our morning drills, reading to us, and keeping us safe as we walk to school’ ceremony, in which the kids were thanking all the volunteers who help throughout the year.

Can I just add here that NO road safety volunteers are on our walk route because it covers about 1km on the main road where there are no houses. They stand on the corners and outside their house for the other routes – mainly vestlings in bright yellow um, well vests. On this whole walking to school topic – Shou and the rest of them are doing well, as of yesterday. Turns out the teacher didn’t ring the other offending kids’ parents up because they were all 3rd year plus and so she told them to tell their parents themselves. Fuck, isn’t that priceless?

Oh Mum, by the way, I got in trouble today for kicking HTB everyday on the way to school, whats for dinner?

Yeah right. This is the most retarded approach by the teacher.

Anyhoo, I had been asked to do a greeting aisatsu at the ceremony thing. I stupidly presumed it would just be me, four vestlings and 30 kids singing a song and saying thankyou. Such a rookie mistake. This is Japan. This was a ceremony after all. I was the youngest by a good 30 years but still, all sitting up the front with our names on our chairs – mine has Catriona on it even though not one person at that school has ever called my anything but Katy. Fuck, this is serious business. The head of the PTA has taken the day off work and is there, along with all the teachers, a cameraman, and a fuckin partridge in a pear tree.

I get through my greeting, which I might add Shou corrected me on when I was practicing yesterday. But then, in his homework notebook he wrote the day’s diary and said how good mummy’s speech was and that  it was the perfect speed and volume.

So, to the tittle of the post…

I heard back from the school in NZ. Action stations are go. They look forward to welcoming Shou and Marina for term 3 and 4 later this year. Next step? Tell Shou’s principal at school.

I asked him after the ceremony and before the skipping rope competition if I could talk to him briefly in private. He took me to a room I didn’t even know existed! I informed him of my intentions to take the kids home for six months but that academically from a Japanese school term point of view Shou and Marina would only be missing term 2 here. He wasn’t overly excited and I had to really explain myself, but he said well, I can’t stop you but I’ll have to check with the education board to make sure Shou and Marina wont have to repeat their year.

For fuckin fucks sake. Its one term. I will be making sure the kids do the required 80 fuckin pages of summer homework and that they aren’t way behind in Japanese and math when we get back. It wont be a walk in the park for me, or for the kids, but in my mind, it is not a choice but an obligation to their bloody heritage.

I wish everyone would stop acting as if I’m doing something detrimental. Hub said last night that he thinks I should wait till they are in high school. High School? Fucking really? He thinks they should be able to make the choice to go back and not be forced.

Oh shit. I wanted to laugh. You mean like the choice they have to do an hour of homework every night at age 7? Like the choice they have to spend hours every day for a month learning how to stand in a straight line and do everything for the sports day in perfect unison. Like that choice?

Came out of left field. I thought hub supported the decision. Turns out he just said yes because he knew I would do it anyway.  I had a very very frustrating conversation with him last night. The kids NEED this. How would you feel if we lived in NZ and I didn’t give a rats ass if the kids couldn’t speak Japanese or wasn’t interested in them getting closer to their Japanese relatives or learning more than how to be quiet at a hospital and funeral arrangements, pretty much the sum of what my kids remember from NZ. OK, actually they also remember Jake and the Neverland Pirates, double scoop ice creams, the quad bike my friend’s husband took them round on, and subsequently all the cow shit they rode through. They think all their aunties are called Auntie Ruth (the European Stylist who was the last adult who visited and who came with loads of gifts) and that rugby is the name of something out of Japanese anime Yokai Watch.

ANYHOO. The ball IS rolling. We WILL be going back to NZ from July to December.

Granny K also thinks the NZ experience can be duplicated by just reading them an extra Dr. Seuss book every night. I was ‘this’ close to yelling at her after her little rant about how selfish I was being, and the poor kids, rah rah. I can understand why she can’t get it. How could she? Her world revolves around three rice paddies, a pottery class and trying to grow shiitake mushrooms. She doesn’t need to get it. She just needs to shut up already about not getting it. A bit of your their mother, I’m sure you’re doing whats right for them. Good luck. We’ll miss you – obviously too much to ask.

Next thing to tick off the list?

Tell HTB’s parents.

SDGH&QL

PS – if anybody has taken their kids out of primary school in Japan for a length of time to go home and learn English can you please tell me the merits and demerits. Last time I took them and Shou went to school he hadn’t even started primary school here yet so it wasn’t as much of a big deal.

When the night, has come wo wo wo, and the land is dark…

11 Feb

If you have lived in Japan long enough you would have no doubt encountered the English or Gaijin Leech. And, I’m sorry, but when ever I hear the word leech I automatically think of leeches of the penile sucking variety from Stand By Me.

But really, there isn’t a better way to describe them. They are interested in you for the sole purpose of upping their awesomeness by being seen hanging out with the gaijin (and no, I’m not being ‘that’ pretentious gaijin who just thinks everyone wants to hang out with them cause they are cool. I’m being quite serious. Being a gaijin sometimes carries a sense of awesomeness regardless of how much of a fucktard you were/are in your own country), or they just want to practice English on you.

I have had nice, more genuine leeches (the kind you actually become friends with before you realise their true motive was for you to teach their 4 month old English) but man, this woman the past week has been mental. In fact I actually suspect that medically there is probably some important chromosome missing and thus I do have to try and at least be seen to attempt some political correctness.

but FUCK ME. I have never seen this woman in my life, ever ever. Unless she has put on 40kg, chopped her hair and is in fact the strange woman who lives 13 rice paddies and 7 houses away – who happens to have the same last name as us. Fuck it, in which case I hope she hasn’t got a chromosome missing cause dang, we’re probably related.

So, on Sunday I am at the coin laundry place with Shou. We are just waiting in the car for the last 3 minutes or so until our dryer cycle is finished, when a woman parks up on her bicycle and kind of looks around nervously and then comes straight up to my window and stares in with a big doongy smile on her face and her nose practically squashed against the glass. Seriously, it was like something out of the Blair Witch Project or similar scary shit movie. She then starts to introduce herself in halted junior high text-book English.

I haven’t had a leech for ages (and therefore my leech antenna weren’t extended to their full satellite potential) and the washing was finishing so I go to open my door. She grabs it and sticks her entire head around the side. If I was still in a horror movie I could have quite easily taken the moment to decapitate her. But, I didn’t. I’m nice like that. Apparently she has seen me on a hundred different occasions at the local supermarket. She has always wanted to come up and talk to me, because she has level 3 of the English exam. Its amazing how many people think that just because they passed an exam they need to go up to foreigners they have never met and tell them what their favorite animal is and similar.

She is saying this all in Japanese by the way, which means I guess her leech status has to be a bit of both the English and the Gaijin lover one. She questions my family, where I live etcetera etcetera. Obviously not entirely convinced she isn’t going to come and stab me in my sleep, I try not to give too much away. Never mind though, Shou pipes up with the rest, including the name of our frickin cat.

I realise she is going to stay there, with her face in my car door, for a long time. I push the door open, all the while bowing and saying excuse me and oh, watch your head and other Japanese niceties. I shut the door, get my washing and then excuse myself again while I get past her and back into the safety of the vehicle. She asks if she can say hello next time she sees me. Never the one to be too rude, I say of course, figuring I haven’t seen her once in over ten years so what are the odds really of running into her again?

Turns out those odds would be quite high.

Yesterday I drive into the supermarket car park and notice, too late, that she is just getting on her bike to leave. She has to bike past me, and fearing for the well-being of my window glass, I pick up my phone and pretend to be in an animated phone conversation – which by the way was a one-sided (obviously as actually talking to self) conversation with my sister about my impending English immersion six month trip to New Zealand.  Was great conversation.

After she leaves I check my wallet and realise I actually only have 37 yen and what with this being the technologically advanced country that doesn’t yet have EFTPOS, I have to go to the bank. Fuck it. Fortunately she is at the post office and I can get in and out of the bank quickly and without exclaiming how great it is that her favoraite fruit is watermelon. Money in wallet I go back to the supermarket.

It would appear that in the 2 minutes and 46 seconds I was at the bank she has gone back to the fuckin supermarket. I didn’t realise this until I was inside though, and while I could have just left agian I really needed to get the shopping done so I chose to ninja round the supermarket instead. I don’t think I’ve had an adrenelin rush like that for ages. I was so proud of myself for making it out. She did try to intercpt me on two occassions but I was quite lite on my big feet and made it out alive.

On way home I had to pick up load of washing from the coin laundry. Has been mad weather week with lots of rain and then some see-through snow – which is what Ryu called it but really was just more rain. He really wanted it to snow.

I am in the car waiting the last five minutes when she fuckin rocks up on her bike. As luck would have it I got an imaginary phone call at that exact time – that lasted the entire 13 minutes she was hanging round trying to find a minute she could tell me that the post office is next to the bank, or similar.

I am now nominated for a Golden Globe.

Must say though, having conversation with self is actually very good. Can get answers to problems and all sorts.

SDGH&QL

Another Phonecall From The School

9 Feb

On Friday evening I got a call from the school.

History tells us that the school doesn’t ring to tell us what a great day Shou has had and/or how well he did in math or something.

No, history tells us Shou’s teacher rings to impart such things as ‘HTB and Shou were playing handshakes, HTB lost his balance and is now in the nurses room with an egg on his head’, or ‘the kids were playing with basketballs in the gym at lunchtime when Shou threw a ball and the other kid turned at the last minute at got it to the side of the face and is subsequently now in the nurses room with an egg on his head,’ or, and this is the gem it truly is, ‘Shou and a 3rd grader were fighting when Shou put him in a headlock. The 3rd grader bit his arm and thus Shou is going home with teeth marks…’ Then there was the whole fiasco with the summer holidays.

Friday’s was a bit more serious. Serious in that it wasn’t just Shou being a seven year old boy, or having better balance or being the one that didn’t hurt himself when him and HTB both fell.

I have had issues with the school walking group before. Basically there are 6 kids, the 6th grader walks at the back and is ‘in charge’, she is followed by a 3rd year boy, Shou, a 2nd grade girl, HTB and then the 5th grade boy is supposed to walk in the front. They walk along a main and busy road and are meant to walk in single file and not piss round. Obviously Shou and HTB, when they started last year, couldn’t walk more than 2m without turning around to talk to each other, fall over, stop to pick up sticks rah rah. Hence why I walked with them and got the school to change the order so the older kids were in between them – you know, the more responsible ones, who could tell them to stop bleating and walk straight for Christ sake.

I now pass the group walking after I have dropped Marina and Ryu off. They are usually late because the 6th grader and her sister are consistently ten minutes late to the meeting point EVERY morning. They are starting out behind and in a ‘need to hurry up mode’.  The 5th grader rarely walks at the front, preferring to saunter back to talk to the 2nd and 3rd grader. This leaves the slowest and least coordinated boy at the front, HTB. Without someone ‘to follow’ he starts turning round and trying to join in the fun (as you would), and the pace slows and inevitably he falls over cause he’s trying to look at all the cars (he knows the make of every car ever made), pick up sticks, and listen to the conversation. I do feel sorry for him. Multi tasking for this kid is H.A.R.D.

Apparantly, since about the start of term 2 (we are now in term 3, or maybe 4 – not sure but the start of term 2 was months ago), four of the kids, Shou included, have taken it upon themselves to occassionaly kick or push the back of HTBs big hard Japanese school bag to get him to go faster. I have no doubt this was perhaps coupled with phrases like ‘omae, hayaku ike’ (bloody hurry up) and the likes. This isn’t happening the whole way to school – but it is happening at least once every second morning or so.

Shou’s teacher, on Friday, said they had all had a group meeting, in which the kids admitted to doing this, HTB admitted to having put up with all this ‘bullying’ for ages and not saying anything, and the oldest girl admitted to trying to tell them to walk properly but nobody listened so she just left it. The teacher had spoken to the principal and actions were being taking. Bullying is taken urber (I don’t even really know what the means) seriously in Japan. The teacher was ringing all the parents. I have no idea what the other parents said but I probably spoke to her for about 20 minutes. I usually have quite an opinion about these things, as you know.

Obviously, I said how shocked I was and how sorry I was that Shou was involved with this. I then went into half defense mode and half solving mode. The kids are expected by the school to walk. I take Shou in the car when its pissing down with rain or we have a typhoon warning. Most kids still walk and Shou actually got some shit from the other kids on the days he went in the car. His teacher even approached me and said the school would prefer if I still made Shou walk in the rain. I said no. I would go along with the ‘build character’ and ‘team group’ shit for walking the other days but unless she could gurantee he wasn’t going to spend the day cold and wet then I would continue to drive him on those days and I would prefer it if the school, the teachers included, didn’t tell him how weak he was for his mother driving him. It wasn’t HIS choice it was MY choice. shut the fuck up rah rah.

I digress, what I’m getting at is that if the school REQUIRES the kids to walk every morning then in my opinion they needed to try and provide, to the best of their ability, an evironment in which the older kids know the dangers and guided the younger kids. Does the school have a walking workshop for the older kids I asked? once or twice a year? This might sound dumb to a lot of you. Or perhaps the school could implement a rewards system whereby the head of the walking group report each day, or once a week, and the kids could get a certificate or something – congratulations, you have been a responsible walker for term 2. Or something.

Anyhoo, this doesn’t take away from the fact that HTB was starting to not want to walk to school. On Friday we had a family meeting. Pivaleges were taken away and future consequences were talked about. We tried to talk about how Shou would feel if it was him getting pushed and told to walk faster every day. Tried to see if he remembered how it felt when the kid at soccer was giving him shit and he came home with half a black eye. But he couldn’t. Just said that was fine cause the next week everything was fine. I think its very hard to teach empathy to a seven year old when they haven’t experienced anything similar.

Last night we rang HTB’s mum. Shou appologised to HTB, who was laughing and said he couldn’t believe we had rung becuase it was fine, and I had a long talk to his mum.

She said she was shocked on Friday when the teacher rang. She said she expects Shou and HTB to bicker like siblings because for the best part of each day it is just the two of them. But that she was really upset for her son knowing that the 2nd, 3rd and sometimes 5th grader were instigating things. We talked for a bit longer and I said I’d keep in contact with the teacher and if a week didn’t fix it, or as soon as it started again, I would start walking with them. I’m the only mum that has the flexibility to be able to do that really. When Marina starts first grade in a couple of months I’ll start walking everyday for a while anyway. Without the current 6th grader I fear it might get worse.

Gah, what a long post that turned out to be. Apologies. Fuck this parenting lark is taxing. It is very easy to get on the defensive and find the faults in the other kids, in the school, when your child is in the wrong too. I would be quite happy to drive Shou but that wouldn’t really teach him that he has to just walk nicely and that he can’t join in any name calling, and if the others still do it he has to be brave enough to tell the teacher when they get to school. Anyhoo, quite possibly off to NZ for 6 months come July. A lot needs to align for this to work and preparations have only just begun, but hub would like a solid yes or no within two weeks – so we can tell HTB’s parents and they have plenty of time to do the paperwork to move him to the school in town from the start of the school year (April) – like the father has threatened they would do on two occassions, if we took Shou back to NZ for any extended length of time.

With summer holidays and all the bollocks that goes with a Japanese sports day, Shou (and Marina) will only actually miss out on two months of 2nd and 1st grade study. And by miss out I mean not physically be there. I am sure the teachers will arm me with enough homework, summer workbooks, and drills to last us.

Luckily NZ primary schools don’t have much homework!

SDGH&QL

Mrs D Is Going Without

Too much wine in rural Japan