Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Summer in Chiba City II

Sorry for the cryptic comment at the end of yesterday's post. Almost everything's been great about our stay in Chiba with onechan's and imoto's baba and gigi, but just as I started to write that post I looked over and saw that imoto was starting to snack on some kind of medicinal creme. I got it away from her in a flash, cleaned her hands and mouth a bit, checked out the tube more closely, realized I couldn't read it, and raced downstairs to the tsuma and baba to ask, "Is this bad for babies to eat?" Apparently, although I thought I was being calm and sardonic, I gave the impression of being angry and panicked, so I kind of freaked them out, especially when I insisted they call the Japanese equivalent of a poison control center after the tsuma and I tried five different ways of washing imoto's mouth out more thoroughly. Turns out she got very little of what turned out to be a very weak steroid creme in her mouth and the folks on the phone told us not to worry unless she vomited or something, which she didn't do. Once we got her calmed down (after, not during, her bath), I finished the post, shut down the computer, and went to bed with the kids. She turned out to be just fine this morning.

So, yeah, yesterday's end wasn't the best--but it could have been a lot worse. And the beginning wasn't so great, either. I was so exhausted from a week with onechan and imoto's cousins that I went to bed early Sunday night and slept straight through the end of the Women's British Open. With them back in Okinawa by that time, we could sleep downstairs and give baba her room back, but that meant I didn't have access to the computer, either. And since we had to get to Tokyo early for my Fulbright exit interview--and stayed all day at Tokyo Dome City, in the amusement park/play area/shopping area surrounding the Yomiuri Giants' home stadium--I literally didn't find out that Lorena and Tiger won their respective tournaments until right before I found out that imoto was able to open a twist cap. That's how I missed the end of my own carnival. Nice.

Still, I can't complain. This was a week of firsts for imoto. In the weeks before we left Fukuoka, she'd become quite vocal, stringing together phrases and sentences in a language no one understood but which had the rhythms of everyday Japanese. For the first few days in Chiba, she was very quiet, but just before her cousins left, she began to use individual words. And not just the "Mama," "Dada," "Baba" variety--although even with those she was quite clever, as when I would stop her from doing something abunai, she would cry, "Mama," and then when mama would agree with me, she'd cry "Baba"--or "oichi" for oishi (delicious). No, these were the most powerful words in onechan's vocabulary, ones guaranteed to get any adults' attention around her--"itai" (ouch!) and "oshiko" (I have to go pee!). Sure, she uses them in any situation she wants to get our attention and they accrue any number of meanings beyond their dictionary definitions, but I'll save that kind of academic nitpicking for my last set of student papers. If you can't cut a 15-month-old some slack, who can you?

Speaking of which, we found out this afternoon that imoto can also use her container-opening powers for good, After lunch at a sushi place, we gave her a lollypop that she had gotten as a gift from the restaurant owners to keep her occupied for awhile, but she had other plans. She got it out of its plastic wrapping without our noticing, and was about halfway through it when we realized what she had done. By then, despite our anti-sugar position, we figured it would send the wrong message to take it away from her--appropriating the fruits of her labor, in a sense. Come to think of it, she also grabbed a popsicle from onechan the other day, so she has her own position on our anti-sugar position,

When you consider that imoto had just learned to roll over about a year ago and is now climbing stairs (with some help going down) like a pro, her changes since we left the States have been even more dramatic than onechan's. A few more anecdotes to drive this point home. Despite her dislike of bathtubs, she loves the inflatable pools that she played in at one of onechan's friend's houses in Fukuoka and that onechan, baba, and I inflated after the cousins left late Sunday morning. Since it was so much work to inflate, we've kept it up since then and today imoto had another clever moment. When a bee landed on her wrist, she calmly put her hand in the water--tsuma had to rescue the bee from a near-drowning! Don't get on imoto's bad side. She has ways of dealing with you. Like when she wakes up in the middle of the night and wants some opai, if mama's just that slow getting up, she gets a pinch in the back or side. (I witnessed that myself around 4 am today!) I've been on the receiving end of various scratches and chin butts, myself. And poor onechan's a prime target for both pinching and hair pulling. We just tell her imoto has to learn to be yasashi--right now she's more like Kuromi than My Melody.

Speaking of onechan, she's had a pretty good time since her cousins left, what with the pool at baba's place, the neighborhood Matsuri festival we took her and her sister to, her visit to Tokyo (even if it didn't involve riding any of the rides at Tokyo Dome City that she had her heart set on--she was too short for most and it was too hot for us to ride on the slow-moving ones she could have gone on), and her reunion today with her friend Yumi-chan at the nearby playground. With all the activity, we haven't had time to catch up with Uncle Bill's latest.

But now that the cousins are gone and we're back from Tokyo, my little summer vacation is coming to an end as well, so after one more LPGA post I'm going to take a break from golf blogging until we're back in the States. Until then, you can find us in the comments on posts like these.


bill benzon said...

. . .and went to bed with the kids.

Speaking of which, do you know current Japanese customs regarding child-parent co-sleeping? I've got an article from 1966 that says it went on well into the grade-school years. Is that still the case?

The Constructivist said...

Hmm, I can only say that the tsuma considers co-sleeping to be the norm, but I haven't asked her when it typically stops. I figure once the kids are too big to fit, something's gotta give. But with futons on the floor you can always just add another one, so maybe that's not a problem in Japan. I'll check with her and get back to you.

bill benzon said...

Yeah, the futon-on-floor sort of blurs the lines between floor and bed.

Co-sleeping is not, of course, the norm in middle-class America, although I've read there's more of it these days than there was when I was young. The article I read talked of co-sleeping until the child was nine or ten, though I don't think that was the norm. But it wasn't unusual either.

Add that to the bathing thing and you have a very different conception of, shall we say, the social body.

The Constructivist said...

A lot of our friends in the U.S. co-sleep, but it's different when you're going against a national norm than going along with one. In the tsuma's view, it's normal for families to co-sleep until the kids are in junior high, and she even knows of families where, say, the oldest daughter in nursing school comes back every so often and adds one more body to the family bed at night.

We're going to get the girls a bunk bed when we get back to the States, eventually, but we don't expect them to use it that soon.