Sunday, April 22, 2012

Falling Petals

Observation Day at Shogakko

Shogakko Japanese elementary school observation days fill me with appreciation and dread. I stand about listening to "wah, wah, wah...," clueless as to what is being said, the point of the exercise, and I miss all of the humor. The Mule's class is always the toughest for me. Some how my mama friends in the Moose's class manage to surround me and carry the day, I'm a member of a group there.

Here, I'm standing in the back of the third grade classroom observing a lesson with other parents but feeling very alone. An orb of anxiety grows in my gut with all that I can't comprehend. Even the Mule refuses to speak to me at school because I speak English, and she does not want anyone to see her speaking English. 

In Want of Support

Walled off, my mind spins. I become furious with my husband for not making the time to be here. I'm yet again by myself, and I'm not liking it one bit. In need of relief from my thoughts, I walk out to the hallway to distract myself. I spot drawings on the wall and recognize my daughter's name in hiragana. This is her picture.
Sakura cherry blossom petals falling
A dad wanders by and eventually begins a conversation with me with a smattering of English. I am grateful nonetheless. Dads are more likely to use English in business so I find that they will spontaneously chat with me versus the other mothers who unless they know me from before, do not speak to me. One question he does ask me is, "Where is her Papa?" Boy isn't that a novel idea. I managed to contain myself and explain that the Navy doesn't slack off much with the ships in port, not that there were a lot of other fathers there, but I would have liked the support.

Skipping Meetings

When the kids departed school, and I made up my mind to skip the parent meetings. I collected the agenda, but I skipped both the all third grade and individual class meetings. I couldn't do it. I was too close to that feeling I had two years prior when I broke down in tears when they asked me to introduce myself- it was all those papers I couldn't read and all of that Japanese I couldn't understand. Now it is mainly that I have had enough, why isn't her father helping me with this stuff, why am I still here, and how much longer do I have to be an idiot. Yep, I'm feeding that wolf again.

Later, I told the Mule I had skipped the meetings because it felt too hard to do. I didn't really have an excuse or any bits of wisdom, but I wanted to be honest, clear.


After pizza, we mostly make pizza on Fridays and this was a Friday, I went up to the office while she and her brother watched an episode of The Backyardigans. She came upstairs with an obento she had made for me- a peanut butter sandwich and a green salad with a bottle of dressing. She said, "Putting the dressing into the bottle was the hardest part." She had persevered; I had not.


  1. What I don't understand is what these observation days are - do they do them in the US? My parents never observed me at school! I sympathise with mini-Uma - I'd have been awfully embarrassed to have a parent in my classroom... I'm sure you did the right thing to stay out of it as much as possible.

  2. I haven't been to American school for some time. My kiddos have never attended American school. I have a feeling I'm going to be a gaijin wherever I go from here on out- I'm not exactly a typical American anymore. Jules, you made me smile with your reassurance that I did the right thing. I think I would have skipped the whole thing but I always see the kids craning their necks to see if their mom or dad is there yet- I didn't want to do that to her. She did look too, I was there :-)

  3. It sounds like it is one of these duty things they do in Japan to stop mothers from working. They are just trying to waste as much of your time as possible! :-)


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