PTA Bollocks

25 Jan

I have just come back from a whole day of PTA bollocks. Every year the prefecture (and I presume all prefecture’s in Japan) have a PTA bollocks day where abut 6 schools have to give presentations on things usually to do with deepening the bond between parents and children. I think kizuna (bond) must be one of the most used words in PTA materials in Japan – it also just happens to be the name of the one and only karaoke place in Kunimi – a place where hub and I have um, ahem, consummated our ‘bond’.

The morning part of the PTA started with a traditional Japanese chant slash dance, slash funny man in a priest-type outfit, with a man beating a drum and saying ‘manzai’ after every so-called ‘joke’ that the priest man waving the Japanese fan said. This particular one is traditionally done in the New Year – in front of a vestling audience. He had to adapt it a bit to fit the PTA audience of course…. Not that this helped the fact it had absolutely nothing to do with parents, teachers, or any associations and I am sure the people that drove three hours to get there were stoked at having to waste an hour watching the ‘attractions’.

The second attraction was Marina’s old dance company. I saw the daughter teacher out front and she asked if I was actually truly back for good…??!! There have been some serious rumors going around about me actually leaving hub. Sometimes I wonder if it is just a conversation opener… “oh… so you’re really back for good?” – kind of like you would say, “hi ya, lovely day isn’t it.” But alas I have had it confirmed by a semi-friend that they heard I had gone back with the kids for good.

Hmmmm. Japanese whispers.

I will admit that it felt funny watching the dances that Marina used to dance and knowing how it was back stage and how much practice the girls would have put in, how many bobby pins the mothers had clipped on their aprons etc. Then I woke the fuck up and thought FFS, have been gone 6 months and these are exactly the same dances – bar the new hip hop ensemble that  is done by a different teacher – that was very cool.

Following the ‘attractions’ we then had to listen to approximately 11.5 ‘aisatsu’ (greetings) from various people including the mayor of Oita prefecture. I say 11.5 because inevitably there is always someone important who can’t make it and who has sent a minion to read their ‘aisatsu’ on their behalf.

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The photo is shit because our area had to sit the furthest away because ‘we’ were the hosts. Not everyone could get in and my friend got turned away because there wasn’t a seat for her son. You would ‘think’ that at a PTA event in the middle of the bloody weekend that they would a) let kids in or b) have a room with someone watching kids. The table on the left is the people hosting the event and the  right table is all guests – mayor, education dept dude yaddah yaddah. They all have red roses on because well, they are guests and while in NZ the only people making money out of red roses to wear on your lapel are florist shops around the school ball season, in Japan there is a company making a lot of money out of fake red ‘distinguished guest’ flowers. The man standing directly behind the flag is the sign language interpreter. There were three of them taking it in turns.

The aisatsu were followed by a certificate ceremony and a hand-over-of-the-flag ceremony. Did I mention this was PTA? The head of the PTA for this area (man that hub used to work with who goes beetroot red after a teaspoon of beer but who continues to drink until he passes out) got a certificate in ‘thanks’ for the work the area PTA put in to host the event. The flag exchange was between him, the now PTA head, and the guy who will be the PTA head from April. Sometimes I just sit there and think about how this would so not happen in New Zealand that I have to control myself. I get why it happens here. Passing the responsibility over yaddah yaddah.

The last part of the ceremony, before the main guest speaker came on to compare humans to the wild squirrels and deer he helps save in Hokkaido, was the PTA group for next year’s event. They already have their flags and jackets and slogan all sorted. They also had two giant mushrooms – well one is a shiitake mushroom and the other is kind of rainbow colored so I can only presume its a magic mushroom??

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The whole thing is predominantly males despite the fact everyone knows the mums go to most of the shit. At kinder level the mums do pretty much everything – and it is quite a lot. Nothing to take lightly I can tell you. Do you know how much organization goes into a group trip to the Safari with 32 kids, 40 parents, 7 grandparents, and 6 teachers? Inclusive of greetings, traffic safety, games and a goody bag? At primary school the mums go to most of the stuff but the dad’s hold the positions of power. Which I don’t mind cause being the PTA head at primary school is a pain in the ass, involves a lot of days off work, and a lot of public speaking. I think its the fact that hub said, when I was PTA head of the kinder two years back, “you do this and then at primary school I’ll have to do it cause it is always  dad” that fucked me off.

Anyhoo, then it was lunch time. I had a ticket for a bento – as did every one else. They all had our names on them and mine said Takahashi  – who was the person from our school who was meant to go today but who couldn’t. I got told to just register as Takahashi but damn, my husband works in the education department. Even if I don’t know who people are, the chances are that people from this area know me and know that my name isn’t Takahashi- I’m not trying to sound presumptuous  but it is just a fact of life when you are the only white person in a 50km radius. So I signed in as myself. Or rather, I said I was representing the elusive Takahashi-san, who I might add is a woman from the Philippines. Hmmmm. We could almost call ourselves an international school!

I found a friendly face, finally, to have lunch with. And then it was the afternoon section that involved two schools presenting their different um, presentations? The first school’s theme was getting kids to help at home and whilst doing so spending more time with your child and deepening the ‘bond’. It was kind of boring. I don’t consider ‘straightening your own shoes up’ or ‘taking your own plate to the sink’ as ‘helping’. It’s your own shit. Do it, and no, if you are 8, I will not praise you for this kind of help. This is expected. If you do stuff above and beyond your own shit, like cleaning the bath, then yes. Thanks

The second presentation was on trying to increase communication between children and parents. It was quite interesting I guess. So much so that I only fell asleep and hit my head on the back of the chair once.

Winning.

SGDH&QL

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10 Responses to “PTA Bollocks”

  1. Danielle January 25, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    I just think that you should know that if it wasn’t for your blog I would probably have no idea what the hell was going on at my son’s hoikuen. I haven’t been here in Japan for very long, but there has definitely been more than one occasion where I would be confused about something they wanted me to do, or I wondered why I had to brig 10 pairs of pants every week, or why the kids walk around barefoot when it is 30 degrees, or paperwork, or parental obligations, and then I’d find myself saying, ‘oooohh I think I read about that on gaijinwife, its totally normal.’ Thank you for talking about all of this stuff for so many years and letting me read it all.

    • gaijinwife January 25, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

      Thank you Danielle. If by ranting my random thoughts you are learning about what to expect then all good 🙂 Japan is a crazy country to try and navigate sometimes. I take a lot for granted – or just face value or what ever. Things will continue to be strength, but they will be come ‘less’ strange. Good luck 🙂 xxx

  2. Elly January 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    That’s pretty bloody rude as greetings go, eh. “Oh hi, so you didn’t walk out on your husband and take his kids out of the country forever without telling him then? Oh really. Welcome back then.” Were Kunimi people just born without the tact gene??

    I suppose the idea that you were genuinely going for 6 months and were always going to come back was too groundbreaking for some people to get their heads round… much easier and more entertaining to gossip about a totally imagined scenario of you & your hub’s marriage.

    These people have tooooo much time on their hands :/

    PTA bollocks sounds hand-stabbingly tedious 😦

    • gaijinwife January 25, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

      I know right!! It pretty much got announced on the town -wide PA system when we left so damn, far too much drama around us coming back!! Lord knows what will happen when me and just the boys go home this summer!!

  3. Susan January 25, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    Too bad the PTO bollocks meeting couldn’t be as entertaining as your report on it! I agree that it’s so rude that people are basically telling you that they’d thought you’d left your husband forever. We live in a small town here too, and people would at least have the decency to talk behind your back, and then act like nothing’s up to your face. :-}

    • gaijinwife January 25, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

      right! Talking behind back would be so much easier to deal with. Usually I just laugh and say ‘I know, isn’t my husband lucky I came back’ – us going home again this summer will fuel the fire 🙂 OMG, they’ve split the kids up.

  4. Tracy January 27, 2015 at 2:41 am #

    The big lesson here is arrive a bit late with a child in tow, the place will be full and you won’t be allowed in due to lack of seating so you have to go home thus missing the whole boring thing.

    • gaijinwife January 27, 2015 at 3:41 am #

      Yes, in hindsight I should have taken a child. I think I’ve lived in Japan too long cause the thought of arriving late and not being able to register and oh, the shame it would bring to my husband and all our dead ancestors… ….

      • bri65 January 27, 2015 at 6:18 am #

        This is an example of why I love to read your blog (AND the comments of your readers).

  5. Torie April 5, 2017 at 2:26 am #

    Spend lots and lots of time with your girls – A child left to his/her own devises is a disgrace to his/mother – Proverbs 29:15 — so sad to say, but it took 4 children to teach me this lesson. I have started keeping them closer to home, less acititvies, less friends houses, less facebook, less texting, and more time in the home, around the house, household chores, family activities, more time with mom = much more pleasant children. Joys to be around.

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Mrs D Is Going Without

Too much wine in rural Japan

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