Every couple of months, Aya’s mom sends us a care package that always has a few Japanese books for Ellie. I’m always excited to open the package even though I can’t read anything. I like to look through the books first and try to figure out what they are about. Occasionally, I get it right, but sometimes one comes along that leaves me extremely puzzled. Like when I saw the cover of this book, I wondered, “Is that what I think it is? Nooo, it couldn’t be.” But as I looked further into the book, I just got more confused. Take a look!
I’ve been taking Ellie to a Japanese school for toddler time once a month for a little while now. I’m an outsider not only because I’m a dude, but also because I’m not Japanese. I know this, and I accept it. I’ve become used to these awkward situations I encounter. They do their best to include me in the group though. They added a picture of a dad next to the mom on the class schedule for the “mom discussion” part of class. And instead of just saying “Okasan (Mother)” when pointing at the picture, they also say “Otosan (Father)” too. I don’t speak Japanese so I never participate in that part of class, but I still appreciate their effort. Anyway, I’ve accepted the awkward two hours as part of my job when raising a bi-lingual child. But sometimes in addition to the language barrier, the cultural differences become so apparent.
The summer break was over, and it was time once again to return to the dreaded Japanese school.Â I say dreaded because well, it’s extremely awkward for me.Â Almost swim class awkward, but not as bad.Â The class consists of me and 16 other Japanese moms and their kids, for two hours.Â With a few classes under my belt from the spring semester, I knew what to expect.Â It is two hours, but it’s only once a month.Â I can do this.Â Bring it!
Next up, a puppet show.Â The effort they put into making this happen is quite impressive, so I can’t complain about it at all.Â They have a big backdrop, they do voices, and sometimes even costume changes.Â I try to follow along, but this one threw me for a loop.Â The teacher came out from “backstage” wearing rain boots, a raincoat, and an umbrella.Â She was speaking very expressively and smiley.Â And then a baby bunny puppet appeared.Â They had a conversation about the rain coming?Â This is what I thought until the next part.
It was time for the second Japanese class, the last one before the summer break.Â I was determined not to be late, and not be intimidated by the foreign language and peculiar customs.Â I had been to one class before and now I knew what to expect.Â I would be fearless and ready to conquer.Â Watch out Japanese ladies, I may have lost my fancy man bag, but I’m ready to participate and sing your songs.