1. The naughty grandson came to our house
My wife and I have two children. Both of them have already been independent and left our house. Almost 10 years had passed since then. After they had left, we need not to take care of children, of course. Since then, we have passed a very quiet and peaceful life. For example, on weekends, my wife and I would sometimes take a short trip. My wife would go shopping. I would play tennis and take pictures of flowers, festivals and so on.
My daughter got married and has a boy. My son also got married and has a daughter & a son. These three are our lovely grandchildren at this moment. We occasionally go and see each other. However, an event had changed our peaceful and a bit boring life completely and unexpectedly. It happened two years ago, when our daughter's family had suddenly moved to the same condominium as ours. Since then, the quiet life of my wife and I has totally changed, because we have decided to take care of this grandson only four years-old at that time. His name is Sato, who is very naughty and active.
We know the difficult situations of our daughter's family how to raise up this boy Sato, because we had visited them from time to time. My daughter was a surgeon at the hospital under the national medical college in Tokyo. She was working from early morning to late night, sometimes until dawn. In case that she engages in a long operation, she has to work hard without drinking and eating. On the other hand, her husband is an office manager. They are so called ga double-income coupleh being busy with their work. Since Sato was born under such circumstances, my daughter resigned from the college hospital and moved to a private hospital in order to raise up him.
And she could manage her daily life by asking a private nursery and some babysitters to take care of Sato. However, while Sato has been becoming more and more active and naughty, they have not enough time to take care, educate and train manners on Sato. Moreover, if they would leave theses trainings to the babysitter, it would be insufficient discipline and manners. In addition, they wanted him to enter an international school kindergarten to familiarize him with English. For realizing all of these purposes, our condominium is a good location. And of course, itfs very clear for them to depend upon us.
2. Parenting is a series of trial and error
The kindergarten that Sato attends is connected to an international school. The bus of this kindergarten comes to pick up children at a fixed time in the morning every day. So, my daily job is to let him taking on it. On the way back to house, the kindergarten will get off the bus at the designated time, so my wife will pick him up. After that she will give him dinner, take a bath, and take care of him until their parents come back. My wife's health wasn't always good, and his parents were too busy to take care of him, so I decided to take care of him through the daily bath and the whole day on Sunday.
When I was young and my children were still small, I had no time to take care of my own children because of busy jobs. I believe that this is the common attitude of the workaholic Japanese father at that time. So, on weekdays I could see my childrenfs faces only when they were sleeping. In that sense, I could not say I have had raised them up, when they were small. Therefore, I still remain as a beginner in parenting small children.
My daily job is letting Sato to take a bath in the evening. Fortunately, he is happy to enter into the bathtub and to play with toys pleasantly. However, he extremely dislikes to get water on his face. I donft know why. Even when such time as washing his hair, he doesnft like his face wet. So, itfs impossible to wash his face with the style looking down. In fact, I tried a few times to wash his hair with letting his face down, but every time he started crying. So, there was no other way for me to stop it. Then I think of the hair salon style. The hair dresser makes the customerfs face looking up when he washes. I tried to wash his hair in this hair salon style. He didnft cry anymore.
However, I thought it would be no good for him having such habits from now on. Then I let him going to the pool lesson, because he was forced to let his face wet in the water. No matter how many times he went to the pool lesson, he couldn't immerse his face into the water. Therefore, he couldn't get out of the beginner's class for quite some time. But I had such patience as to wait until he could do it naturally and spontaneously. In retrospect, I was also clumsy boy when I was small, so I can't laugh at Sato. Anyway, I waited and waited with patience.
Around when one year had passed, Sato suddenly became able to dive in and to open his eyes in water. This is a great step for him to go up to the upper class. When he came back home, we sincerely celebrated him. He looked very happily. I hope that such a small experience will lead to confidence that he can do something in the future. Happily, enough, since then he felt no problem even if he would be poured down water from his head in the bathroom, and now he can wash his head by himself.
At night, I make it a rule to let Sato to sleep around 8 pm, because such a small boy should sleep earlier for the purpose of his own growth. However, his parents came back much later than this time. So, at the beginning, I brought his sleeping body and returned him to his parentsf room. However, his body was so heavy in sleeping posture and that especially when itfs in winter it was very cold and troublesome. Therefore, I changed my mind and let him sleep in our bedroom until next morning. After that I let him to go to his kindergarten directly from our room. Since then, wefre almost like living together.
The sleeping Sato is very cute, with having a different face than when he was awake and talking. But at first, I was in trouble because I didn't understand how his body works. For example, he can sleep with a short-sleeved shirt even in cold winter. And after an hour, he sweats a lot. I can't imagine such mechanism. However, if I leave him sweaty, his clothes may get wet with his own sweat and he is sure to catch a cold, so I should change his clothes.
At dawn, his feet became cold. So, if he doesn't wear socks firmly, he will really catch a cold. Since he is a toddler, he has a bad sleep custom, that is, he rolls from corner to corner while sleeping in the room. Therefore, even if you cover it with a futon, a Japanese style thick and warm cotton blanket, he will immediately bounce off. As a result of various trials, in winter, after he fell asleep and sweated, I change his cloths and wrap him a thick cotton thick blanket so that he could roll anywhere.
3. Good at impersonating, exercise, understanding jokes
When I started living together with Sato, I found that he has a very interesting character. At first, he likes flashy things like volcanic eruptions and water splashes. Then I thought that he was sure to love the fireworks. So when the summer season came, I took him to watch the fireworks in Abiko. When the night came and surroundings have been becoming dark, there was an announcement that the firework would start. When the first big firework had spread all over the sky, I soon watched his face, thinking whether he was scared or not, because the firework made a loud sound and we felt even some shock through the air. But it was useless. On the contrary, he showed me a fascinating face and continued to cheer, "Wow, that, look!", "Ah, that one," and "Wow, that's amazing." And finally, he said to me, "Grandfather, fireworks are very very interesting" with a tone like a famous movie commentator.
However, what made me more surprised was the impersonation of fireworks. He brought both hands toward the launch platform. He starts from the lower voice tone to high tone, with moving both hands from the bottom to the top. He continues screaming the high-frequency sound like "Huh, woo, wooo" for a long time, then takes a breath. He suddenly spreads both hands and explodes the fireworks with "Don don don". How wonderful his impersonating was! All family members watching it couldnft stop laughing until we felt painful on our stomachs. It seems that this is the impersonation of a large ball fireworks.
I took care of Sato on every Sunday, I thought that it would be better to let him play under the sky, thinking he is still a small child. When itfs a good season, I took him to go to the Showa Kinen Park and the Kasai Rinkai Park, and so on. We start in the early morning on Sunday. In the park, I let him play around freely until sunset. Because of this activity, he had fostered his physical ability. When he was around 4 years old, it never happened that I was defeated by him in running. When he was 5 years old, he can run almost even with me. But when he reached to 6 years old, itfs impossible for me to run faster than him in terms of both speed and endurance. Nowadays, even if he runs faster than I at full speed and left me far behind, he waited me over there with stepping and waiting me until I can catch him up.
The Showa Kinen Park has a lot of playsets for children, so Sato can really enjoy playing with sometimes yelling. At the Kasai Rinkai Park, he likes to throw stones silently at the seaside all day long. When it's too hot or cold, we avoid the outdoors and I take him to an indoor children's playground. It's a bit expensive, but he can play with trampolines, using ball pools and large blocks, he can make friends, play around and forget about the time to go home.
When Sato came to my house, he had never such experience as watching TV and he was not given any sweets such as candy. So, I think that he was a child like before the civilization. His parents seem to have some reason to do so, but under the modern society like now, anyone could not live without information from the eyes and ears. That's why I carefully let him seeing selected TV programs. NHK has some interesting children's programs. Such as "Thomas & Friends", "Shaun the Sheeph, "Curious George" and "Pythagoras Switch." The other day, he imitated the Pythagoras Switch. He used wooden rails vertically and horizontally created a similar mechanism in the house. After he managed and overcame the various hardships, his device was moving finally. It was a very impressive instance that we shared a happiness and pleasure.
Also, as he is still a small child, eating sweets in moderation is a pleasure and energy to live. However so far, he hadnft had such experience. Therefore, I think itfs better for him to enjoy sweets. On the other hand, just giving him some sweets simply is missing a good chance of experience. I thought for a moment what I should do ... One Sunday, when we played a lot in a remote park and got on the train to home. I saw a small shop KIOSKS at the station.
I bought a grape gummy. Sato is watching me with full of curiosity. With eating it, I frowned exaggeratedly. I said, "This is sour, so when I eat it, my face looks like this." Then he looks me up with sympathy. Then, as I kept eating. After a while, he said, "Grandfather, may I take one piece of it?" I said, "Oh, that's okay, but be careful because it's sour." I put only one piece on his palm. He closes his eyes and puts it into his mouth carefylly. He immediately burst into laughing and said, "Wow, it's delicious." And all the remaining gummy candies were taken away by him. Ifm happy because he understands jokes.
4. English speaking test
His international school founderfs belief was that the children should not speak only English but also Japanese to the same extent. He said that those who do not know their mother tongue cannot speak English perfectly. So there are two teachers in one class, the English teacher first teaches, then all the children turn in the opposite direction and the waiting Japanese teacher teaches the same thing in Japanese. Perhaps because of that, Sato is a completely Japanese speaking type and I have never seen him speaking in English at home. When I say "outrageously big," in Japanese, he quickly says, "Grandfather, you shouldn't use it because it's bad expression. You should say,'It's ridiculously big.'" This makes me wonder whether he really goes to an international school and learn English. So last year I took him to Hawaii for the purpose of checking his English-speaking ability.
We arrived at the Honolulu International Airport. When we were having breakfast at a hotel restaurant where we can overlook the beach of Waikiki, one waiter brought us the pancakes I ordered and gave it to Sato saying "This is for the baby." Then he immediately protested, "I'm not a baby." The waiter couldn't reply further more express, and her was apparently at a loss. Then I found Sato has a quite strong character.
Then we went to the hotel pool, we relaxed in a poolside "Arabic" tent, and only Sato entered into the pool. Then he was surrounded by a few Americans and talking about something. When I listened to it, he was asked "What do you say" my friend "in Japanese?" He replied gOtomodachih. After that he came back to our tent and told my wife, with frown and whispered, "Grandma, those people speak English only."
Then he went to the pool again and was talking to some unknown tourists. After a while he came back and told me in a perfect English this time "I want to go to another pool." Oh, He was already in the English mode and I was about to laugh. So, I responded, "OK. You can go." After that, he was playing with a black woman who came to the pool. Itfs very good that he seemed to have any resistance to racial differences. While I was watching it, a middle-aged Caucasian man, who happened to walk and pass in front of me. I was relaxing on a poolside bench. He suddenly asked me "Is that your boy?" I replied to him "Yeah!". He said "He's very cute." so I answered "Oh Thank you!".
5. An architect who likes golfe in future?
Sato is now 6 years old. I am happy to see his grown-up physique. But his growth is not only about his body but also about his mental matureness. I usually read and write in the Kotatsu table, which is a low table of the Japanese style in the living room. When I came home one day, one of the legless chairs of Kotatsu had disappeared. I happened to see the corner of the next room, there is the chair that disappeared. It was placed at a small table made of a cardboard box.
On the desk Sato was touching iPad that I gave him as a present a few weeks ago. He was surrounded by not only iPad but also his most favorite candy boxes over there and relaxing himself. He called this cardboard box as gmy officeh. My wife calls this the "cockpit", because It's a small space, but it's very comfortable and everything is placed within his armfs reaching distance. So I think that it's a good naming. When Sato gets tired of playing on his spare time, he enters there, with licking candy and using the iPad easily. Through using this iPad, he is watching a children's program on YouTube, then sometimes laughing alone, or he immerses himself in the world of games such as playing golf at the beautiful golf courses all over the world.
When I come back to my house after work, he has already made a golf course in the house, and asks me to play golf together. Once he starts his golf, he goes around the course with swinging a toy golf club and shouting gOh I got a birdie, next itfs eagle, etc.h. I was kindly invited by him to play golf every night. Having a red toy ball and a blue toy club, I went around the golf course of the corridor made by him. Because he has already finished doing image training on the iPad, his form is so nice that I am sometimes envious him, such as taking a large follow-through after hitting.
Another thing that he has been enthusiastically making in these days is to make various elaborate huge structures. My wife has bought dozens of boxes of tissue paper in advance and Sato is allowed to use them as gblocksh. It's a very nice idea of my wife, because this block is never dangerous even if it would collapse. No wonder why, anyway itfs paper in the end. And another good point of this is that he can make quite a big structure because the tissue paper box is bigger than any toy blocks. Moreover, a tissue paper box is cheap for its bulkiness. So, I would like to recommend it to all of parents who have children of similar age.
Using these tissue paper boxes, Sato has been made up various kinds of structures. One day he piled them up to make a tower taller than his own height, and said, "This is the Tokyo Sky Tree. It's 634 meters high." Ifm wondering from whom he got this information of its height. Another day he made up the diorama of Tokyo Station, using whole one room. Certainly, the toy rails and Shinkansen models are neatly incorporated into the platform made of tissue paper boxes, so it looks like a real station. At this point, He is already a great sense of architect. I think it would be nice to for him to become an architect in the future.
6. Public school or international school?
Actually, his parents are worried about his school now. Sato is familiar with the international school where he attends and has many friends at this moment. All of them are good-charactered children. Not only that, both studying Japanese and studying English are quite unique and advanced. In Japanese learning, he has already finished the basic course of the Japanese writing of Hiragana and Katakana long ago and proceeded to Kanji, on which he is writing, meaning, reading, stroke order, etymology, and writing essay using them. He is good hand at Arithmetic. He can already add and easily subtract. These are at least a few years advanced than the Japanese conventional primary schools. Not only that he was surrounded by both English-speaking children and Asian-language speaking children, so he can speak English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean on his daily life. Therefore, I felt if I was a small boy, I would like to enter this kind of the international school.
However, recently, the Board of Education of the Bunkyo Ward where we live has contacted his parents saying that it is a violation of the School Education Law if Sato would not enter an elementary school in Japan. My daughter replied "Sato is now attending the international school which is a corporate body of educationh. However, the Board said "It's not a so-called Article one school, so it's a problem if he doesn't enroll." My daughter went to see the principal of the school district where we lived and talked with the person in charge of the Board of Education, but it seems that they repeated the same thing. Of course, I'm not Satofs father, so I'm not in a position to decide on his future, and as long as the School Education Law provides like that, itfs clear for them to follow that article. However, on the other hand I am understandable what Satofs parentsf thinking. On this matter no conclusions have been reached yet before the scheduled admission date in April.
By the way when I was over 30 years old, I moved to Malaysia of the Southeast Asia with my family. I was appointed as a diplomat of the Japanese Embassy. There, I learned the importance of language. This country is a multi-ethnic country consisting of Malays, Chinese and Indians. Among them, Chinese (overseas Chinese) speak Malay for Malays, mainly Cantonese for Chinese, and Mandarin for people in mainland China who do not understand Cantonese, also English for foreigners such as Japanese, at the moment when they see the counterpartsf face. They always talk within family members in mixed up language in their houses. They are far from Bilingual, nor Trilingual but more than Quadrilingual (people who can speak four languages). I'm surprised because it's normal in middle-class and above families.
I was wondering how to let children studying and how to educate them to become this kind of multilingual. One day I read a textbook of a Chinese kindergarten. When I turned some page, a color photograph of the hibiscus was drawn in the middle. In the upper right corner, the Chinese character "flower" is written, and in the other three corners, "flower" is written in English, "bunga" in Malay, and "hua" in Chinese (pronunciation notation). .. Since they are a kindergarten child, they have been thoroughly involved in multiple languages circumstances. So, I was convinced how important to learn languages.
In particular, middle-class and above families are focusing on English education. Itfs because the English-speaking proficiency is directly linked to the amount of income of the person. Seeing that, I was convinced that Japan would surely be like this sooner or later. Isn't that exactly the case for Satofs generation? If so, I can understand the feelings of his parents that making his English learning career so far, he has accumulated through the education of his kindergarten of the international school is important for his future.
On the other hand, the high level of education in Japanese language and good discipline of Japanese elementary schools are something that we should be proud of to the world. Actually, one of my acquaintance, Singaporean, even said that he would like to letting his children to the Japanese schools but only elementary schools. He highly evaluates its education.
I wrote this article as an essay in the April of 2015 in a magazine called "Legal Profession". I would like to tell what happened after this essay especially about the relationship between the international school and the public elementary school. It means which schools Sato enrolled.
To say the conclusion firstly, Sato enrolled in both. Maybe you would think gIs it possible physically?h Yeah, no wonder to think so. Thatfs why he mainly goes to the international school. This school will start from the end of August and end of the June every year. On the other hand the Japanese public elementary school will still run during the end of June to the end of July. So, Sato will go to the public elementary school this one month only.
Sato started to go to the local primary school. At first, it seemed that he was confused by the lunch time that was not available at the international school but he spent most of his time without much trouble and made the principal and homeroom teacher at ease who were worried about him beforehand. He was evaluated as "He was able to get along well with his friends. He has enough academic ability." When he finished commuting to school after a month, his mother received a certificate of completion of the first gradeC dated at the end of the fiscal year.
Five years have passed since then. Recently Sato challenged to enroll a private Japanese junior high school and passed the entrance examination. He is still curious and energetic.
ioriginal : February 27 of 2015. added May 5 of 2021j
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