Sunday, April 01, 2007

what was I thinking...

Today is one of those days where I wonder why I thought I would be able to handle raising our kids in Japan. This has happened a few times and, like before, I'm sure I'll get over it soon but it's frustrating all the same. It feels like it's a test that I'm failing (which I hate).

I realized on Thursday or Friday, when Emi asked me, that I only have one week until Emi starts school. Somehow I thought there were two more weeks (sigh). Although I had thought out where and when we were going to get school supplies for Emi, I hadn't actually started (oops!) and now the pressure's on. Honestly, I work better under pressure but not every member of my family does. I had already made plans to go to a friend's house on Friday and after that we met Chikara at MyCal to get Emi's hair cut (I'll post a picture soon - she's still pretending she doesn't want her picture taken) and buy school supplies. Unfortunately Emi started complaining of an earache so we went to the hospital instead of buying supplies. OK, no problem, we'll go another day. I've got plenty of time. Right?!

Saturday was a weird day because I got sick! I actually had a fever which is weird because I can't remember the last time I had a fever that was not pregnancy related (No, I'm not pregnant!). Basically Saturday ended up being a total waste of time. So now we're onto Sunday. We went to church in the morning, ate lunch, practiced for an Easter special and ended up staying until 5pm fellowshipping with friends. From there we went back to the mall to shop for school supplies. Yeah! Everyone is healthy and we've got time so I was thinking that we'd be in and out. Boy, was I wrong.

As we pull into the parking garage, Sakura starts crying and I have no idea why but we push on. We get to the school supply section with our fancy list from the school and...

THIS IS MY WARNING TO THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YET TO SEND YOUR KIDS TO A JAPANESE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!

...there are no school supplies left. I'm exaggerating a little bit but I'll explain. When you send your kids to school with their precious school supplies, their supplies have to be the same as everyone else's or your child will get picked on and this will lead to bad nicknames and being left out and you can NEVER fix this. It's like a "You only get one chance to make a first impression" type of thing. I've heard this from many different sources. My problem is how am I supposed to know what *everyone* has. I've known this moment was coming for awhile which is probably why I didn't start shopping for school supplies earlier. But heed my warning, you must shop early, like February-early, if you want to get good school supplies or at least have a choice.

I don't remember this being a problem when I went to school. Crayons were Crayola. Pencils were yellow #2. Rulers were wood, 12 inches. You could buy them anywhere, anytime. Easy.

Also, I don't know if I buy into all this "be the same as everyone else" thing. My kids are going to be different than everyone else no matter what I do. I've been hoping that they will have some pride in who they are and appreciate the options that being multi-cultural brings them but just because I hope doesn't mean it will make them feel better if they are teased.

I think probably I'm overthinking this, or at the least over-worrying, and Emi's tough and very self-possessed and isn't into being the same as everyone as far as I can tell. Also I really believe that God has his hand in all the things that come our way so I try not to mess it up (as much as I can!).

So tonight we searched the Internet with not too much luck so I went to a different mall and found Disney's Marie school supplies so I bought the last one (Phew!). I really hope these supplies help Emi pass whatever social test is waiting for her.

One thing for sure, Misaki is sure going to benefit from this experience!!

11 comments:

coarse gold girl said...

Sarah,

You sound like me when I was getting my oldest ready for elementary school here! I waited till nearly everything was gone from the stores too!

Don't worry. At our school in Osaka and then at the school here in Akita--all the kids have a variety of school supplies. If your daughter likes Disney's Marie than that is all that really matters. The only way that a child would be teased (that I can see) would be if they had a character good item that was just obviously NOT for elementary school students--you know, like an Anpanman shoe bag or something! Otherwise, let Emi be your guide as to either a)what's popular or b)what SHE likes!

My biggest area of concern was and remains to be that fact that my eldest, being shy, doesn't do aisatsu like she should. And YES it causes social problems with classmates at school. sigh. It is so hard to convince a shy child that speaking up and screaming a genki Ohiogozaimasu at every child she sees/meets from the same elementary school will SAVE her embarrassement and social difficulties later. . . especially hard for me as I was the same sort of VERY shy child at her age.
Sounds like your Emi is a bit more outgoing--which will help her tons!

Laura

Hannah said...

Who the hell is Disney's Marie and why do we not have her DVD??? Just kidding. But seriously, who is she?

Isn't it the firstborns who always suffer through either their parents ineptitude or fussiness so that the rest of the children don't have to? I'm sure that when it's Felicity's turn for school supplies I'll either go waaaaay to early or the night before school starts. You know, like we used to when we were kids:)

I do have a very distinct memory of going school supplies shopping at Fred Meyer's with Jessica MacCool, and you were with us. You talked us out of getting matching school supplies back then, so maybe that was just the Lord preparing you for this very moment. Lucky you. The nice thing for you is that Emi probably won't care at all, and then she'll just be that much cooler and unique and all the other kids will want to not care and be cool and unique just like her. I can see it now...

Good luck with that.

Lily said...

This is a topic that I have not had to think about yet. Please keep us updated on this new chapter. Thanks for advising us Japan residing Moms to not procrastinate on school supplies.

Trisha said...

Everyday is live and learn isn't it? I like the way that you think though, about God's hand being in everything and trying not to interfere. All things happen for a rason you know.... By the way, what kind of fever is pregnancy related? Just wondering...

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for the encouraging comments because I really needed them!

Laura - I'm not good at aisatsu either. I'm always too formal or not formal enough or tongue-tied when it comes time to say good-bye, which I find the hardest! Also, it's good to hear that I'm not the only one who went late to buy school supplies - thanks for being honest!

Trisha - I guess the fevers were post-pregnancy related! I always had a couple days of low-grade fevers after I gave birth all four times. In Japan, the nurses always gave me the raised eyebrow!

Another thing I find about this type of stuff in Japan is that everyone assumes that you KNOW so no one offers advice unless you ask so I find myself in this kind of situation alot.

coarse gold girl said...

Sarah--
They even get graded (evaluated) on Aisatsu! Embarrassingly enough, DD#1, now 9 years-old just "failed" Aisatsu last term!

I realize too that while I am on her now to do aisatsu properly, I myself, often say them really really quietly and probably the store clerks, neighbors sometimes don't even hear my aisatsu!

ah. gotta get the kinks worked out until we are all "genki" at giving aisatsu!

Mom said...

I just want you to know that in Canada the school supplies are still wooden or plastic plain rulers, yellow #2 pencils and crayola crayons, and in many schools you are not allowed to bring anything with a branded name on it. Your childhood is still safe....

Gina said...

Oh I completely and totally agree, in Japan the moms buy their school stuff,super early! Wait too late and all the good stuff is all sold out or all picked over. I bought the few things we needed for yochien in February, ha ha ha.

But I am glad you reminded me of this, because I won't forget that for next year when B starts elementary school. So thank you! : )

Sarah said...

Gina - For some reason I went and bought the stuff for youchien early but I find that most of that stuff (ohashisetto, toothbrush & toothpaste, uwagutsu, etc.) are available all the time so I didn't worry about it. But for elementary school supplies, I found that the odougubakko was hard to find. The stores have lots of pencils, erasers, tape, glue, etc. but the big stuff runs out early.

I'm feeling better now about the whole thing but tomorrow is the nyugakushiki and, as usual, we have to take all the kids so I hope everything goes well!

cara said...

oh me oh my. sounds like quite the headache, but all part of the adventure, right? ha ha ha ha. that's my evil, maniacal laughter. man, henri is rubbing off on me too much. i do like reading all the japanese words you guys are talking about although i have no idea what they mean. after 2 years of japanese at least i can pronouce them correctly. that's about all though.

Gina said...

Good luck at the nyugakushiki.

And I am so glad you told us all the big stuff runs out first! Will you remind me of this again, next year in January,please? ha ha ha. Just kidding! : ) I am making a mental note of it!