Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Letting go...again.

The bags I made
Start of the ceremony

Congratulations board outside the nursery

My little girl :)

typical timer shot..

After a pretty stressful couple of weeks trying to entertain two children in a house filled with colds and hayfever, yesterday was the day. The hoikuen (nursery) entrance ceremony! I finally finished making all of the cloth bags that the children needed, got all of the things together: bibs, nappies, wipes, plastic bags, face towels, hand towels, changes, lunch box (just for the rice, as the nursery will provide the rest of the meal), futons, etc. etc. ETC. and was woken at 6a.m. by a thoughtful little boy who made sure we didn't oversleep. Y was already downstairs working as he was taking the morning off for the ceremony. We dressed ourselves up. I didn't go over the top with the children because I really didn't see the need to buy a little suit for L that he would probably never wear again, and H had a pretty little dress, although on the day it was really cold and rainy, so in the end she wore a thicker dress, but still looked pretty. I realised that I am a lot calmer about dress and all those unimportant little things these days, so I was happy about that.

When we arrived, we took a quick look in each of the classrooms, H is in Moon class and L is in Star class. This is pretty funny, because L is obsessed with the moon..he walks around saying, "mOOn..stARRR" for a lot of the day. Along with "choo choo", and "uh-oh, spilt it" so cute. Anyway, H decided she had to check out the toilets, and went in on her own while I waited at the door. Wherever we go, the first thing she wants to do, is use the toilet. And if there is a little girls one, all the better. That over with, I noticed that there were triplets in the class..and twins...what are the odds?!? There are quite a few multiples around these days. I am thinking a lot of it's due to the IVF? So they seemed fairly friendly, I sent H off to play with them, and she ran around with them for a bit. Then we found her peg, drawer, and towel hook, oh, and shoe box. She was a bit annoyed that I had forgotten her pumps, but in my new found calm, I told her that we would bring them tomorrow, and she said, "my feet are cold" and then I felt wretched.

Then we went off to L's classroom, where there seemed to be a whole load of people, we picked up his little notice book and hat, and then went into the hall. After this, it's all a bit of a blur. There was singing, dancing, and a weird skit by the teachers. But the children all seemed to like the weirdness, so it was all good. H was sat next to another little mixed race or foreign girl. I think she is phillipine, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they just sat and STARED each other out. It was quite weird. H told me later that the little girl doesn't talk and just blinks every so often, so H was copying her...I told H maybe the little girl was just shy and to smile at her next time. Then the teachers lined them all up and they went off to the classrooms while we and the little ones were treated to a p.t.a. introduction. This was great though. It turns out that we only have to get involved in 4 p.t.a. activities this year. At the kindergarten it was more like once a month.

Next, we went to L's classroom and they explained all of the things that we needed. This made me angry, because we had had a list for the past couple of months...then they decided to change things...an example, I had bought bibs, and then they pulled out this hand towel that had had elastic stitched through the top to slip over the neck and act as a bib. I told them I had bought them. The teacher told me to bring them in and they would see if they were ok. To this I replied, ok, I bought them. Please use them. What do they think we are?!?! It's a small miracle I made the damn bags, don't refuse my shop bought bibs. Then we were asked to bring around 100 plastic bags..labelled..and to write the names on a certain part of the nappy so that they can see the name when they are folded up after changing...ugh, I had forgotten about all this. Anyway, there were lots of questions from me translated through Y because none of the EIGHT teachers really knew what was going on. Then I realised, we had to go to H's classroom! As we walked down the corridor, H was standing at the door with the teachers, and when she saw us, she ran to me with a quivering lip and held on for dear life. "I thought you would never come" she said, ugh, there's that wretched feeling back. But she held back the tears. She's a good girl, always trying to be brave and make everyone happy..I felt even more wretched.

We chatted to that teacher too. Yes, H likes singing and dancing, and drawing. No, she doesn't have any allergies. Yes, she can go to the toilet by herself. And then that was it. We went home, had a quick lunch, and then Y went back to work. I bit my tongue for the rest of the day while H and L went crazy around the house, because I knew that H was stressed and worried about the new place, although she would never admit it.

This morning, as I want to ease the children into nursery, we agreed they should start by going from 9-11 H and I took L first, and of course he cried when I left, which tugged at my heartstrings and I had flashbacks of H's first nursery days. Then I took H to her class, and again felt emotional. I left the nursery, went to the car and then just let myself cry. After having stomach problems due to stress, I decided that if I need to cry, then I should. After that, I felt much better and went off to do some grocery shopping. The two hours flew by, as I thought they would, and when I got to the nursery, L was playing outside in the sandpit. He was relatively calm, and didn't cry when he saw me (as H did at that age, as if to say, "HOW could you LEAVE me?!?!?"), but pointed at his shoes and said, "uh-oh, spilt it"..I guessed as he was already wearing his change trousers that he had spilt his drink all over himself. Turns out that they had taken his socks off and he was outside with shoes and no socks, so it probably felt a bit weird for him..he is never without his socks, unlike H who would never wear them if it were up to her. The hoikuens here often have a no sock policy inside at least. I suppose it's slippy, and they have underfloor heating, so no socks is better. Kind of bugs me though..but that is one of those small things I mentioned earlier.

Then I went to pick up H, who seemed a bit out of it, but I think she was just taking it all in. The teachers encouraged us to stay and play outside for a while, so just as I had gone to pick my children up, they both ran away from me and started playing on their own..typical. Then I got surrounded by a bunch of 4 year old girls with a plethora of questions: "what is your nationality?", "British? Is that the same as English?" (nah, translation didn't work "イギリス人は英語人の同じ?”), "what nationality is she?", "whose mother are you?", "what about him?", "what language does she speak?", "what colour is this hair?" (accompanied by a very gentle tugging of H's hair)...very funny. I tried to answer all of the questions clearly, and they seemed satisfied. I love how children ask the questions that adults daren't. So then I had to drag L and H away in the end..typical.

They seemed tired, but H especially a little calmer. I know they will be fine in the end, but I am still finding it hard with L. I don't want him to go there every day, even though he is registered to do so. I think he is too young, and I want to spend time with him like I did with H at that age. I think it's important for his English too. But because the hoikuen is for working mothers, children are supposed to be there full-time. So it seems as if I will have to lie and say that he is ill 2 or 3 times a week. Big pain :( To be honest, I didn't want him in the hoikuen at all, but Y persuaded me to at least enroll him while we have an employer who will at least say that I am working for 15 hours a week, and to be honest, I need to be available for work, even though he still hasn't got new teaching contracts for me. So I am technically employed, paying for hoikuen, but with no job..fun huh?

On the bright side, I am more available for work, and I have a private model lesson this weekend, not going through my employer, so fingers crossed that she wants to start lessons with me. And fingers crossed that tomorrow goes well...


  1. Wow!!! I am super impressed with the bags you made, they look great!

    Sounds like it was an eventful day, I can imagine its difficult to see the kids off to kindy esp. with Luka being so little still. Hopefully he will take to it like a duck to water.

    Congrats on the employment - it will be strange having lots of kid free time I imagine. I can't remember what I used to do before miss S came along!

    Fingers crossed on your lesson - good luck :)

  2. Thanks Sara. It's hard for me with Luka, not so hard with Hannah, as she was at youchien before, but still the hoikuen is very different. It will take time for her to get used to it. My plan is to have Luka at home with me when I'm not working, and then if he's enjoying it there, when he turns two, and/or I get more work, then more days. Kid-free time? I will be teaching children, so not much chance of that! The irony is that hoikuen gives you a lot of things to do. The laundry gains volume, lots of notebooks to write in every day, silly things to prep., etc. I am finding it hard to get all of my household work done at the moment, and then will come the work and along with that, the work prep., so my days are definitely getting busier :) But I like it too. It's a change. And a change is always good.

  3. Great job with the bags!!

    That is tough (re, Luka in everyday but no work) about the no work so far through your company. I guess you could say that he is "going with you" to work for his English.

    What do you do with L and H to help them with their English apart from talk with them and read to them? I am curious because I am determined to help Noah be billingual...

    Also when L says "Uh oh, split it" what does he mean?

    Oh and the kids questions for you were funny! Especially the "what colour hair is this?" one...haha!

  4. Lulu - thanks! Yeah, I wanted to tell them that I only wanted him in a few days a week, but my husband gets really bothered about getting "found out", so he seems to think that I should just say that he isn't genki...just seems a bit suspicious to me. Especially as I would have to bring him with me when I drop Hannah off. I think telling them he is going with me might ruffle a few feathers (although it totally makes sense), as there are limited spaces, so I suppose I am depriving other children of a place?

    With regards to helping the children with their English, there isn't really all that much that I do, except that I only ever talk to them in English and ignore them if they talk to me in Japanese, which as yet has never happened. Hannah often tries to teach me by saying, "Mummy, do you know how you say that in Japanese?", and she insists that I say, "no", so that she can tell me :) I have started teaching Hannah phonics, writing and the alphabet, but in terms of speaking, she is already fluent in English. Luka is taking a little longer to speak, as Hannah often talks to him in Japanese, but seeing as Yusuke is rarely home, she gets enough exposure from me right now. I have found our way to be the best for us, as it's pretty clear that Mummy speaks English and Daddy speaks Japanese.

    Oh, ha ha, Luka says, "spilt it", not split it ;) It's so cute.

    I know, the question time was so funny! One of them even said, "my hair is brown, hers is much better", just as a woman might say to me. I found that a bit odd!

  5. You know I LOVE your work on the bags, they totally look bought, well done you!!!

    If you get once class, you can always build more while the little one's are in school, before you know it, you might have a little enterprise on your hands. Maybe get some business cards drawn up, as a conversation piece.

    I'm still a little confused at what kinder entails though, did you mean the company pays for some of their schooling?

    Sorry... I'm totally having a brain fart.

  6. April Marie - thanks, but close up you can kind of tell the difference, I think. Am having lots of ideas about other kinds of bags now that my confidence is building about making them. So great to create things.

    The whole hoikuen and youchien business is so confusing..don't blame you for being confused.

    Basically, youchien (kindergarten) is from age 3-5. Hannah's last one had a young class, so she was able to go even though she was only 2 at the time. Any children can go to youchien, whether both parents, one parent, or no parents are working. In general, the children who go there have stay-at-home-mums, so the P.T.A. is obligatory and a lot of Mums use it as a way to socialise. The hours are usually 9a.m. - 2p.m. They all have their charges. International ones usually start from 50,000 a month around here. Hannah's was 24,000

    Hoikuen (more like daycare) is only available to parents who both work. Children from 3 months old - 5 years. I'm not sure if one parent has to work full-time, but I know that in my case, to be eligible to enrol them in hoikuen, I have to work for a minimum of 14 hours a week, spanning over at least 4 days. Places are not guaranteed, and priority is given to parents who are ALREADY working and have nobody to look after their children...bit of a Catch22 that one...How much you pay for these is decided by the government on an income basis. Second children are half-price, under 3 year olds are more expensive, as the ratio of student teacher has to be higher. We pay 41,000 for both of them..it's a costly business, that's for sure.

    I'm thinking of starting up a school in the future, but for now, so I can keep the children in daycare, I have to be employed. Would be great to build up students of my own little by little though. I have a temporary teaching job that's come my way recently too, so that should help with the finances ;)