….has been solved.
This morning started off on a sad note for Miyu. As we got to the hoikuen 保育園 (nursery school) parking lot, she realized that she had lost her rock, the one she planned on showing her teacher. (She likes to show them something every morning, usually it’s a stuffed animal.) She was very sad about the ordeal so I suggested that she look for another rock when they go to the park before lunch time. She informed me that she did not want to look for another rock as it would not be the “perfect rock.”
When we parked at home this evening, we searched for the rock in the backseat of the car and found that it was right beside her carseat, hiding underneath the seatbelt fastener.
Tonight when we showered, I warned you that you will have to learn how to shower on your own. I said that I wouldn’t be there in the shower with you anymore and as soon as I said that, you immediately frowned—looking absolutely frantic—and hugged me, saying “But I want to be with you!” You hugged me so fiercely that my eyes stung. I thought to myself “God, please let me remember this moment forever, even when I’m old and senile.” You were hesitant to wash your body with your wash towel but eventually you relented and pretty soon you started having fun.
Afterward, when we got out of the shower, as you were putting lotion on, you explained to me out of nowhere that you did not wish to go to elementary school and that you wanted to work instead. May I remind you, you were only four years old at the time of this message so you can imagine how tickled I was to hear this. Then you said that you wanted to come to work with me and we laughed because I told you that I couldn’t bring you to work with me since I’m so busy. And your silly self knew that! Then, I asked you to brush your hair with your red Kiki brush and you replied, “But I can’t, I’m just a little girl.” Five minutes earlier you had used that same excuse for not wiping your butt after you went number two. You actually cried on the toilet! You explained very quietly that you were just a little girl and that you couldn’t wipe your butt. Strange because you had been wiping your own butt for a good few months now without assistance.
Sigh. You’re so clever. In your own way, you were just telling me that you didn’t want to grow up. You wanted to be my little girl forever. It’s funny how we think the same things! I know eventually I will have to let you go…but not yet. Merciful universe, not yet.
As I was dropping Miyu off at school this morning, I had the urge to finally document all of the things that I bring with us. Hoikuen had been daunting for me at first, but now that we’re settled into a routine, things aren’t that bad. To give you an idea of the madness though, here is a list of things that I bring for her.
Inside her backpack
In the front flap:
Renrakucho (communication journal for parents and teachers). This journal needs to have a record of her temperature for every single morning, and who is picking her up and what time. In the photo below, it’s the yellow booklet in the middle. Inside, it’s just regular lined notebook paper.
This photo was taken at the hoiken on April 3rd, right when Miyu started. The left sheet is actually her time card. The time card is something I’ll discuss in a future post about hoikuen in general. As of right now, October 2nd, that particular time card is no longer used.
Attendance booklet (I don’t know what this is called, will come back to this later). In the photo, it’s the blue and green booklet. When you open it, it’s basically a calendar where the teacher or child puts stickers on each day of attendance.
Monthly dues and fees (¥7,500~¥8,000) – This is separate from the monthly cost of attendance. These fees pay for extra classes that we have Miyu enrolled in like English and Gymnastics. There’s more but I can’t remember at this moment, go figure. I didn’t bold this item because this is not an everyday item. This is only for the beginning of the month. For her particular hoikuen, it’s a yellow bubble type of envelope with a ziplock closure at the top.
Insurance paper and ¥100 fee for her upcoming field day. Again, this is not an everyday item but I thought I would include this anyway. We placed the ¥100 yen inside an envelope.
In the main compartment:
Extra (normal) clothes: 4 shirts, 3 pants, 3 panties, 2 socks (I forgot to add another one). Usually, I can only fit three of each item.
I usually separate her extra clothes into outfits that are then placed into a thin plastic bag like the one pictured on the left underneath the clothes. When I don’t have time to organize, I just grab clean clothes and throw them into her backpack. The extra clothes are placed into her cubby drawer which I will explain in another post.
One set of extra gym clothes for that day (shirt + shorts). Gym clothes = uniform underneath skirt and blazer.
The extra set of gym clothes go inside a drawstring bag.
Cutlery for lunchtime.
The face towel gets folded into the small plastic container and everything is placed inside a drawstring bag. The container is useful because after the face towel is used, it’s usually wet and dirty, so the container keeps the other items from getting soiled. I leave the cutlery in her backpack which is stored in her cubby.
Face towel for lunchtime messes. This is usually soaked in water so that it’s easier to clean dirty faces.
Toothbrush + cup – Note there is NO toothpaste. This is kept in a drawstring bag and is hung along with the hand towel.
I check every now and then at the quality of her toothbrush. Once the bristles start to look worn down, I just go ahead and replace the toothbrush.
- Hand towel with a loop for drying hands after washing. These towels must have the holder loop so that they can be hung (along with the cup and toothbrush) on the mobile pegs typically located near the sink.
These towels are nice to have in her classroom because using a cloth towel as opposed to paper towels is better for the environment. Not only that but by bringing their own towels, it’s more hygienic.
Just for reference: There are two pegs in the photo to the left. The round one is used for hanging their outerwear. The long rectangular one is used for the hand towels and toothbrush set. I will touch upon these again in a future generalized post.
Handkerchief – They place these inside the back pocket of their shorts.
We got Miyu two different kinds of handkerchiefs to see which one we like better. The bigger, thinner ones are nice because they’re less bulky in the pocket. The downside is they don’t absorb much sweat. The smaller one on the right is nice because it absorbs sweat but for some reason they’re easy to tear. If you click on the photo to see the larger version, you’ll notice the Sophia handkerchief is falling apart at the bottom. Next time what I’ll do is buy a whole pack of these and then immediately trim off the tags so they won’t get pulled on and tear the fabric.
- Hat for outside. This is brightly colored and they’re standard for both hoikuen and yochien. They’re brightly colored so that when the children walk to a park or wherever they’re going, they can be seen easily by cars and other pedestrians. I’m guessing it also makes it easier for their teachers to keep an eye on them.
- Small shower towel (like the kind that you would normally put in a bathroom to dry your hands with). Yes, when they’re practicing for field day or just playing too much and sweat a lot, they end up taking a quick shower in their classroom. During the summer, her school actually had little kiddie pools that they would put out on the large balcony. I had to bring a bathing suit, a cap, and a towel for her every single day. After they were finished, they would shower. I’m glad summer’s over. 🙂
- Pajamas for the week – This is kept in the classroom throughout the week. This item is placed inside her backpack on Friday afternoon after nap time.
In a separate bag
I got tired of finding large plastic bags so I finally found this multi-purpose, reusable bag.
- Futon cover – These have corner garters to make sure they stay in place atop the futon mattress.
- Towel blanket
- Whatever extra (normal) clothes I could not fit in the backpack
- Waterbottle (always with mugicha or roasted barley tea) I usually have Miyu carry this, but sometimes I’ll just throw it in here or carry it myself.
Today, or last night rather, I forgot to write her name on the bag holding her shower towel. And then, as I was stowing away her backpack and other things in her classroom, I saw that there was a place to put aprons. Her class cooks sometimes and parents are required to provide their child an apron, a mask (like the kind that you use when you’re sick), and a bandana to keep hair away from the face and from falling into things. I was confused because Ken had told me that they’ll be cooking every Friday. *Shrugs* Anyway, when I dropped Miyu off this morning, I asked her teacher if they were cooking today and luckily she said “ashita,” which means tomorrow.
Photos and cost of each item coming soon!
This morning, as I was making coffee and pouring it into my thermos, Miyu said behind me, “Mommy…look.” So naturally I looked back and saw this:
I love her sense of humor. 🙂
This week I was informed that Miyu will be needing a flag by Friday, which is tomorrow. Her hoikuen provided the paper for the flag and we have been entasked with creating a design with the theme of “Autumn Fruits”. So I gathered all of our arts and crafts materials and here I am on the dining table, wishing I had double-sided tape, and wondering what the hell to draw!
Ken had looked at me last night, grinning, and said, “Well since I’m the artist of the family, I guess I’ll just take care of this.” I responded with a perfunctory roll of my eyes.
I’m guessing this flag will be used for her upcoming field day on October 21 where Ken and I will be participating. That thought helps motivate me to make her flag stand out. But it’s 7:20PM and the clock is ticking. Will I be able to tackle this without letting my perfectionist side take over? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
Update: 9: 25PM
When I was a child, I was never taught to do my own chores. Despite working full time, my mother always washed the dishes and did the laundry. My parents sort of had an agreement that my dad would be the cook and he would be the one to clean and maintain the car and mow the lawn, while my mom would do everything else around the house. Even during my teen years, my mom did my laundry. It was only during tenth grade when she finally asked me to do my own laundry, and even then she would still do it most of the time.
Because I was, essentially, never taught to clean after myself, it was an overwhelming experience for me when I came to live in Japan.
I don’t want what happened with me to happen to my daughter. I want her to understand, from this early age, that house chores are an everyday thing. With the right attitude, they can even be fun. I want her to grow up and realize that a woman shouldn’t have to bear all the house chores just because she’s a woman. I want her to see that the entire family should be involved in maintaining a happy home because, well…that’s my philosophy and I think it’s a fair one.
I took a picture of Miyu today helping us with the trash. Our (Japanese) neighbor was surprised to see that she was helping us carry a few bags. When we got to the trash shed, I was shocked to see that Miyu had remembered from our last time throwing the trash. She already knew where to put the pet bottles! So now, whenever it’s trash day (or night), we’ll be giving her the pet bottle bag and Ken and I will do everything else. 🙂
Dear Miyu Alexandra,
I now leave the fate of our houseplants in your hands, for their survival may very well depend on your most eager and diligent stewardship.
All the best,
She saw that I was doing the laundry, ran to the laundry basket and grabbed all her shirts, got a chair so she can reach the hangers, and voila. My little helper strikes again!
Later she helped me load the last load into the washing machine and she became upset when I told her that we wouldn’t start the machine until after we wake up from our nap. She was eager to push the buttons, that’s why. 🙂