Tag Archives: children

Best Conversation with My Daughter Ever

Every night, my daughter has a bedtime routine. First, I change her into her pajamas, then she brushes her teeth. She has a drink of water and uses the toilet. I then read a book with her. She’s actually learning to read now, which is great to see. And once that’s done, she lies down next to me and talks a bit.

Tonight, she had an amazing conversation with me. While she speaks almost entirely in Japanese, and I speak to her in English, we understand each other.

She talked about all of the people who are important to her. She started off by saying that she’s a big girl, her friend Tsuki is a big girl, and her mommy is a big girl. She then said that I was cool and her mommy was cute. Then she said she was cute, her cousin was cute, her friends were cute, her relatives were cute or cool (she still calls my mom, her grandmother, a boy or cool). Then she hugged me and said “Arigatou (Thank you).” She hugged me very tightly and talked a bit more about everyone. And then she said “Daddy daisuki (I love you, Daddy).” And finally, “Hontou ni arigatou (I really mean it, thank you).”

My heart has melted. I have the best daughter.

The Christmas Feeling Is Missing

It’s Christmas Eve. Christmas Day begins in less than two hours. But unlike my Christmases in Canada, the ones I’ve had in Japan just don’t feel like Christmas. Not in the same way.

Yes, I have family here. We have presents, though mainly for kids. We have a Christmas dinner. There are Christmas parties. There are Christmas decorations, and even some people cover their houses with lights. Christmas music is all over the place. There are some Christmas TV shows. What’s not the same? What’s not Christmas?

Well, in Japan, Christmas is all commercial. It’s not so much about family, it’s more for the children. It’s not a holiday, so people work. The big difference is that the build-up to Christmas just isn’t there. Well, there is a build-up, but in a totally different way. And the strange thing is that the day after Christmas, all decorations are gone. They’re replaced by New Year’s decorations. New Year’s Day is the biggest holiday in Japan, so that’s understandable. It overshadows Christmas in a big way.

There are many differences between a Canadian Christmas and a Japanese Christmas. And these are things I miss a lot.

  • Christmas dinner – Turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. In Japan, it’s Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • Focus on family – In Japan, the focus is on kids.
  • The relaxing feeling – It’s not relaxing in Japan. It’s basically a day like any other day.
  • The Christmas spirit – People get into Christmas in Canada. Not so much in Japan. It’s not very important.
  • The TV shows – I miss the Garfield, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, and Frosty Christmas specials.
  • Sitting around the Christmas tree – Some people do this in Japan, but it isn’t a major thing.

I think the biggest difference is the anticipation. During December, everyone is anxiously waiting for their holiday to start and spend time with their family. This happens here in Japan, but for New Year’s Day. It’s just a different kind of celebration.

Ever spend Christmas in another country or culture?

Convenient, Yet Inconvenient – Japan’s Train System

We just got back from a trip up to Saitama to visit my wife’s family. During this trip, we had to take a number of buses and trains. The system is extensive in the Tokyo area, and you can get pretty much anywhere you want in a timely manner and without much difficulty.

The view from the JR Musashino Line in Saitama.
The view from the JR Musashino Line in Saitama.

It’s convenient

The trains are quick, many traveling between 90 and 110 kilometres per hour. The express and rapid trains are very nice for long distances. You can easily transfer from one train to another, even if it’s a different company. You can use the same IC card to pay for any train or bus. No need to count out change for a bus or train ticket.

It’s inconvenient

Packing around a not-yet-4-year-old is not the easiest thing, and with her inability to sit for a very long time, she’s difficult to handle on a long train ride. While taking the trains and buses is convenient, it’s troublesome with a young child. On our way home, she fell asleep, and I had to carry her between two trains and have her sleep on me. And then there are the crowded trains. She was extremely fidgety on that train, and wanted to stand, then be held, then stand, then be held, etc. It’s physically demanding to travel by train with a young child. For something like this, I’d have preferred to drive. However, with the roads and traffic in the Tokyo area, that would be a major headache. I don’t think I could find a parking space, either.

For an overnight trip to a destination only one and a half hours away by train, I took a whopping four buses and eight trains. I love the train system in Japan, and could easily travel everywhere, but I wish I could do it with my daughter being a couple years older.

Ever take a trip or commute that frustrated you because of the transportation system? Or having to deal with young children?

Kind Train Driver Makes Kid’s Day

On the train I’m riding in, there was a boy, maybe 5 or 6 years old, riding with his mother. They got off the train, and as we’re in the front car, they stood near the driver’s window and said, “Arigato gozaimasu.” That means “thank you” in Japanese. I didn’t expect what happened next. The train driver very briefly used the train’s horn. The boy then mirrored the motions that the driver does, and he seemed very seriously into it.

Train driver, you just made a little boy very happy. Here’s a photo of the train. He’s in there somewhere.

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I love seeing things like this. Have you seen anything recently that makes you think humanity isn’t all that bad?

My Battle With a Three-Year-Old

My daughter is three and a half years old. Here she is in her silliness.

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Yes, that’s a little rubber duck on her nose. Suction is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Well, when she’s being silly, which is most of the time, her focus tends to be on me. And when I sit at the computer to type something, she usually decides that it’s time to climb on me, sit on me, or take control of my hands. That’s fine, except that since the weather has become cooler, she refuses to sleep until around midnight or one in the morning! By the time I get her to sleep and in bed, I’m too tired to do much of anything.

If you’ve noticed that I haven’t been replying to comments in a timely fashion, well, it’s because I’m in mortal combat with my threenager.  Thankfully, I have time to myself tomorrow morning, and I will get caught up.

I have a great post for tonight, if my daughter will let me write it.

Living With a Threenager

What’s a threenager? You know the terrible twos, right? Well, a threenager is someone who acts like a teenager, but is only three years old. That basically describes a three-year-old. They have attitude, but no control over their emotions. They are either happy or it’s the end of the world.

Here’s some of my three-year-old’s attitude.

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And she’s already demanding a driver’s license, while talking on a cell phone. Okay, so it’s a radio, not a cell phone.

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These pictures were taken on Sunday, and she had a lot of fun in the indoor playground. But after four hours, it was time to go. The world ended. Scream, cry, and run away. That’s what she did. When I picked her up, she kicked, struggled, and tried to get away. She did not want to leave at all. She still say she wants to go, and she wants to go now.

Earlier this year, BuzzFeed posted a list of 23 Things All Parents Of Threenagers Understand. Let’s go through them and see how my daughter’s doing.

1. They’ve suddenly got OPINIONS…lots of them.

This is true. It’s mostly her telling us she doesn’t like something, though sometimes telling us what she likes. She knows what she likes, that’s for sure.

2. All hell breaks loose if you serve their food in a slightly different way.

Not so much, really. She’s actually pretty flexible with a lot of these things, but she often requests a certain number of breadsticks. They come in bags of six, and she says she wants three. I give her one. She gets upset. But you see, she usually eats parts of the three, takes the chocolate chips, and leaves chunks of bread from all three sticks.

3. Handling disappointment isn’t their thing.

Disappointment is too mild of a feeling. She doesn’t get disappointed. She goes ballistic.

4. Not even Jack Bauer could get them to tell you what happened at preschool.

This we don’t have much of a problem with. She offers the information without us asking. Just the other day, it was raining, so they couldn’t use the pool outside. She told me so. And she told me that she was playing with her friends, including their names.

5. “Why?” “Why?” “Why, Mama?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why, Dada?” “Why?”

She asks us why, definitely. She’s in that phase, but it isn’t so bad. I tell her why, and much of the time she takes the answer and doesn’t bombard me with “Why?”

6. They’ve probably wiped off one of your kisses.

Yup. She does that.

7. They often lose toys that they MUST. HAVE. RIGHT. NOW.

Not just toys. Clothes, too. Recently, we had to wash one of her favourite dresses, and she wanted to wear it as it was drying. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. She needed to wear it now.

8. They’ve started to say sassy things like, “Are you kidding me?”

Not really. At least not in English.

9. They’re too small to walk at a decent pace, but too big to be carried.

Yes! She tends to take a long time to walk anywhere, and when she gets tired, she wants to be carried. She’s 15.5 kg now, and while it’s fine for a little while, she starts to feel too heavy.

10. They have no filter.

She says what she wants. If she gets punished, she tells everyone she got punished. She also walks up to complete strangers and introduces herself and my wife and I. She often tells us to be quiet, too.

11. They’re either recently potty trained or are potty training, which is awesome for you! (sarcasm)

Sigh. Just as I was starting this section, she took her diaper off and handed it to me. It was filled with pee. We have a deal with her. She stops peeing in her diaper or training pants, she can go to a swimming pool, waterslides, and Canada. She wants to go to them all very much. She knows how to use the toilet, she knows when to use the toilet, but she just gets lazy.

12. This little phrase can trigger a tantrum/meltdown: “It’s time to go.”

Yup. Happened on Sunday. It was a major meltdown. It happens every time we’re at a playground, too.

13. Bedtime is drama, and they’ll do anything to avoid it.

If we force her to go to bed, she won’t stay. She will only go to bed on her own terms, which is only when she is sleepy. She usually falls asleep around 9 or 10 pm, but any earlier, and she won’t do it.

14. Once bedtime starts, it is — how should we put this — a process.

The process has changed many times over her short life. When she was still using a crib, she would only fall asleep if she was holding our hand. Now, she will only go to sleep if she’s sleepy, and that’s the only time she’ll brush her teeth, as well. At least she knows how to do that now. Any deviation from this makes it impossible to get her to sleep.

15. Getting a threenager out the door takes forever.

Actually, we don’t have this problem. She likes going out, and she’s the first to the door with her shoes on.

Short intermission.

Back to number 7. She wants to blow bubbles outside right now. It’s raining. She’s upset that it’s raining, but still demands to go out to blow bubbles.

End intermission.

16. Despite their epic slowness, they’re also epically impatient.

Absolutely. It takes forever to get her to do many things, but then when she wants something, she wants it now. She wants to go to Canada right now, actually. Every day, she demands to go to Canada.

17. They will say, “I’m tired!” when you ask them to do anything.

Not really. She’ll do things if we ask her to do them, but when she doesn’t want to do it, she just flat out refuses. “No.” She only uses the “I’m tired!” excuse when she doesn’t want to walk.

18. They’re guaranteed to frustrate you when eating at a restaurant.

Worst place for us to go! I love eating food in restaurants, but when we have our daughter there, she usually makes a mess. Last time we went with her, she poured a full cup of orange juice over her clothes. And she had to go home like that. Sticky. Ugh. And she’ll often ask for something from the menu, then refuse to eat half of it, wanting whatever we have.

19. They’re maddeningly stubborn and insist, “I do it myself!”

Absolutely. This is what she wants to do by herself now: put on her shoes, put on her clothes, dry herself after a bath/shower, use the toilet, wash her hands, put toothpaste on her toothbrush, and so on. The toothpaste thing would turn into a disaster. She doesn’t get to do that.

20. That is, when they’re not begging you to do it for them.

She often comes to me to get me to do her puzzles for her, as well as draw something instead of her. Sometimes, she hands me her spoon or fork and wants me to feed her. I guess she’s still a baby at times.

21. They’re scared of a lot of things.

She’s scared of bugs (sometimes) and heights (if she can’t hold on to me). Not much does scare her.

22. They have very specific ideas on how they want to look.

She likes to choose her clothes, but she often chooses clothes that are too hot for summer. She also likes to have her hair done in a certain way. It’s either Anna, Elsa, Ika Musume (it’s an anime, English title is Squid Girl), or Precure (another anime, Pretty Cure).

23. They’ve become firmly anti-nap.

She rarely has a nap now. When she falls asleep at 5pm, she sleeps all night. She doesn’t wake up from that nap. And just as I was typing this, she fell asleep. It’s almost 6pm. I’ll see if I can get her to wake up later.

I’d like to add one more to this list.

24. The only way to get them to do anything is through bribery.

Want her to sit down on the bus? Candy. Want her to sit down in her stroller to be a counterweight for all the shopping we did? Toy. Want her to use the toilet? Pool, waterslides, and Canada. No matter what we try, we can’t get her to cooperate unless we bribe her.

Anyone with kids have similar experiences?

Dinosaur Song

Sometimes, the funniest little thing can be a source of inspiration. Let me tell you what happened on Friday around 6 pm.

It was a hot day on Friday, and I’d promised my daughter to take her to the park, because she really wanted to go. So we waited until 6 pm, when it wasn’t so hot. She kept bugging me about it all afternoon, and eventually forgot about it. Then at 6, I told her we’re going to the park, and we’ll be blowing bubbles. So, off we went.

At the park, we blew bubbles, she chased bubbles, and she played on the swings a lot.  She also got to meet a very friendly dog that kept trying to lick her face. We were there for quite some time. I think nearly an hour. It was getting darker out, as the sun had set, and I was about to suggest that we go back home. Usually, this results in her crying and arguing. But things were different this time. I didn’t even have to suggest going back. You see, something interesting happened.

My daughter heard a sound down the hill, back toward our home. She told me it was “Dinosaur no Uta.” That’s “Dinosaur Song” in English. I wondered what it was. She has quite the vivid imagination. So, I suggested we go down and find this dinosaur who’s singing.

As we went down the hill, I asked my daughter if it was a big or small dinosaur. She told me it was small. As we approached the intersection at the bottom of the hill, she told me she could hear the dinosaur song again. At the intersection, I guessed it was probably the cars. She made a sound like a growl, telling me that was the dinosaur song. It made sense it would be a car.

She saw a man jogging across the street and pointed, saying, “Dinosaur!” She then pointed to a car, and said, “Dinosaur!” She pointed out all the cars, saying that they were all dinosaurs. As we crossed the street, she told me to be careful because of the dinosaurs. We soon arrived home, and she was very happy about her time at the park. A successful outing.

The “Dinosaur Song” she created made me realise just how imaginative and creative she is. It’s inspired me, actually. I want to write about the “Dinosaur Song” now. Maybe a children’s short story, since it was inspired by her, and I’d like to write it for her.

It’s the End of the World!

My daughter is three years old. This is what it’s like to have a three year old child.

Me: Time for bed.

Her: No, I don’t want to.

End of the world.

And then she’s thirsty.

Her: Juice!

Me: We don’t have any.

Her: Juice!

Me: There’s no juice.

Her: Juice!

Me: There. Is. No. Juice.

End of the world.

And then she’s not hungry anymore.

Her (holding a bowl of banana): I don’t want it.

Me: Are you sure?

Her: Sure.

Me: You want me to eat it?

Her: Daddy eat.

Me: Okay.

I eat it while she watches.

Five minutes later…

Her: Daddy ate my banana!

End of the world.

And that happens every day. The world has ended more than one thousand times, I think.