Saturday, September 12, 2009


I find that between Emi and Misaki, Misaki is definitely more social. She exchanges phone numbers and she makes plans to meet friends after school way more than Emi does. Emi does occasionally but I find that kids just show up at our house and ask Emi to play rather than make plans ahead of time. It's not a big deal. They have both made and kept friends in their own way.

But on Thursday, Emi came home after school with a girl from her class and asked if they could do homework together. Sure. When the girl came in the house I said hello and Emi said (in English), "Mom, she doesn't talk". I remember that Emi had said that was a girl that was really shy and didn't speak much so obviously this was her. Usually we try to avoid speaking English in front of other people but this was the perfect moment for Emi to do this. So they came in, did their homework and then the girl, Misa-chan, went home. I praised Emi for reaching out to this girl and asked a little more about how she's doing in school, etc.

We had to go to the doctor after school yesterday (Emi's having a wart burned off - gross!) and after we got back Misa-chan called to ask if she could play with Emi today. Unfortunately Emi was going to have to do her homework in the morning, lunch, and then our normal Saturday afternoon quiet time so she wouldn't be able to play until 4pm. Emi explained all this and they made a plan to get together at 4pm. Then Misa-chan called back a half hour later to ask if they could get together after Emi did her homework. Emi gently explained that it was not possible. She was really nice about it.

Since then Misa-chan called one more time last night and three times this morning. Seriously, for someone who doesn't like to talk, she did an awful lot of calling. She didn't really pester Emi but Emi said that it's hard to communicate with her. I ended up talking with Misa-chan the last time to let her know that we were having lunch now and Emi would not be able to play until 4pm. She said OK so I thought that was the end of it when the doorbell rang. What?!? She showed up with her bento to eat lunch with Emi. We were all in our pajamas and I wasn't even wearing a bra. Fortunately I had just vacuumed the kitchen/living room so I let her up (I did put on a bra but we stayed in our pajamas) and we had lunch together with her. The other thing is that the girls had been begging me to get out some videos I had stored that they used to watch when they were little. I had promised that if they helped me clean up I would dig them out and they could watch one while they ate lunch. Unfortunately they're only in English. I debated putting on something in Japanese to be nice to the girl but she just showed up uninvited and the girls had earned this reward so I was kind of stuck. The girls ate lunch in silence watching the video in English.

Finally around 1:30 I asked her to go home because we had something (read nap) to do. We're usually out all day on Sunday so I make sure the girls take a rest on Saturday afternoons. She went home and then it started to pour rain so Emi couldn't meet her at 4pm anyways.

We moved around a lot when I was young and I never had really close girlfriends in elementary school so I don't remember but is this how girls interact with each other? The phone calls got ridiculous (in my opinion) after awhile. Emi was very clear the first time that she couldn't play until 4pm but the girl just kept calling. She's not handicapped, she's just shy (and maybe lonely)so I don't think that misunderstanding was the problem. After everything was said and done, Emi was pretty annoyed. We just don't behave like that in our family. If a friend sets a time to meet then we wait until that time, plain and simple.

We'll see how things go. We are trying to teach our girls to be understanding of other people and to be friendly especially to those without friends but we try to balance that by setting boundaries when things get to be to much. Emi had a friend in first grade who came over all the time but she was really bossy and pushy and eventually Emi had to give her up as a friend because it was exhausting to play with her. We got lucky because that girl moved but I know that's not going to happen everytime.

I get more and more nervous as the girls get older. What are their relationships going to be like in junior high and high school? I'm really praying that they find good friends they can keep healthy friendships with. I see the stuff we're dealing with now as preparation, for me as well as them!!


thefukases said...

Oh wow. I think you handled that really well. I am not prepared for the friendship thing I think. At the moment there are so few same age kids in the neighbourhood they're all friends but I imagine when M goes to school next year she'll make friends from other neighbourhoods and then it'll be a little trickier...

Henri said...

It's a good question you ask.. because I don't know if my thoughts below apply to kids, or just adults who have consciously committed themselves to a life of following christ.

Not to get all spirtual and stuff... I think sometimes the people who need our friendship the most, are led to us. (Sometimes. And sometimes they're just nuts. haha.)

If we look to the bible for examples and guidance, we see occasions when Jesus went above and beyond what we would consider appropriate (when he was tired, probably cranky, and had other things to do), yet chose to spend time with others who "needed" him. Even when he was tired, he gave himself. Even when his disciples told the person to bugger off (jesus is tired so go away), he went the extra mile.

Heck, most of his disciples were the misfits of society, who most likely were the lower-class ones who had few friends of their own...

While I do agree there should be a limit to how much of ourselves we "give" and "share", we do need to keep in mind our calling on this planet is to follow christ's example as much as possible and to be a witness to those who don't know him. All the other stuff is a distraction, if it hinders us from helping someone find their way to christ or improving our own relationship with him.

So ya... I don't know how to reconcile that "we should" with real life when it comes to our kids. For myself and "adults", it seems clear and simple -- we are instructed to give of ourselves even when it hurts.

Our kids are more vulnerable, not fully emotionally mature, and thus possibly not mandated/expected to follow the path of christ in its fullness yet. I don't know.

All that to say.. I have no idea what is "normal" for Japanese custom/culture when arranging a playdate. Here where I live (Europe), it would be fairly normal for a kid to just show up without any announcement or pre-planning. Their parents do the same thing. I find it annoying in the extreme, yet it's purely a cultural thing..

Maybe talk with Emi and see if there's a way to spirtualize it a bit and turn it into a learning lesson about Christ? Not that the other girl needs "sympathy" friends, but to honestly maybe see if Emi is ready to befriend someone who might need a friend just for the sake of giving of herself because it's what jesus would do.

I have no idea.. just thinking out loud about the first things that popped into my head when I read the post. :)

Hannah said...

This is a great way for Emi to learn about boundaries and grace at the same time. Obviously this girl is either socially awkward or just has not been taught boundaries. She may be either spoiled or ignored by her parents, or maybe she just has trouble picking up on social cues. Either way, Emi's at the age where she can learn how to deal with people like this instead of dropping her as a friend just because she's annoying. It's a lesson that will come in handy in the future.

Gina said...

I think you guys handled the situation well too.

Lulu said...

I think you handled an awkward situation well as well.

Maybe the girl is just so happy to have found a friend that she is trying TOO hard to make it work. I think it is great that your daughter reached out to her... I am sure the friend will realize the boundaries are there soon enough. It could also be her mother pushing her to go play since she might not do it so often...

Kim Chapman said...

i'm sorry, but i thought your post was hilarious. I was getting annoyed just by reading it, and then she came to the door with her lunch! Ok, now that i'm done making fun of the situation, i think that she probably is so excited to have found a friend that she wants to hang out with her all the time. When i was little i dont remember a whole lot but we stayed in the same house and i've had the same friends for a while. I know that we used to just play in the cul de sac and go to our neighbours door when we wanted to play. Even when i was a teenager and sometimes now, i've been lucky enough to have my good friends live really close so we would just always walk to eachothers houses and show up unannounced. So I don't think that is completly abnormal, but a little annoying. My parents always had an open door to our friends and they knew they could come and go as they please which i'm SURE got super annoying for them but it was awesome for us and it also helped our parents create relationships with our friends. I think she may do this a few times but she'll soon learn your routine of quiet time on saturdays and she will know her boundries as to when emi can play. Also she might just get tired of watching english movies and not want to come for lunch anymore! Hopefully Emi can introduce her to other people as well so she has more choices as to who she can play with when emi is busy.