Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What Little Boys Are Made Of

Boys are boys are boys, no matter where you go or where you live--and that includes "grown-up" boys.
Ahhhh--the summer cometh.  I know this, not by the temperature outside, nor by the flowers in bloom, nor yet by the birds that singeth.  Nope--I know because my son is catching things and bringing them home. 

He was *so* happy, too--better than Christmas (I could tell by the look on his face).  He came in last night with a lizard and a snake.  Ooooh--lizards, we've had before.

We've also had innumerable crawdads (which I finally outlawed because they stink--so, catch-and-release only):

Our genkan, come mid-June, is slowly transformed into a veritable zoo.  If my son could pronounce entomologist, that's what he'd want to be. 

The beetles, stag and rhinocerous, roly-poly bugs (my daughter got on the kindergarten bus once with a pocketful of those), cicadas, butterflies, snails, spiders, minnows, a loach, tadpoles and frogs, even a bee.  Don't ask me how on earth he caught that--he just came in and plopped the box down on the kitchen counter while I was making dinner and asked for honey to feed it.  Papa, however, put his foot down at that, and the bee went back outside. 

Mind you, this is all.....I hesitate even to say encouraged, it's just what kids do in the summer.  Right along with the shorts and tshirts come the bug boxes, the nets, the jelly to feed beetles, the peat to bury the beetle larvae in.  There are no depictions of summer that don't include catching beetles and cicadas along with eating watermelon, watching fireworks, and o-bon dancing.  I think a kid who didn't catch any bugs in the summer would be considered more deprived than a kid who didn't get any birthday presents--seriously.  Which, in spite of the mess in the genkan, the dead bugs, the smelly crawdads, my husband freaking out at 6am because the lizard got loose in the house, well--I guess I'd rather have dead bugs in the house than a kid who spent his childhood in front of a screen of some sort.  It's something about Japan that, all-in-all, I really appreciate.   Not that there isn't just as much Wii, DS, computer games, and the like here.  The Japanese just seem to hang on stubbornly to their traditions at the same time that they produce the latest electronic gadgets.    No need in Japan to hunt down award-winning science toys from hard-to-find catalogues, nope.  Any and all bug-catching paraphenalia is available in every dollar shop. 

The latest additions to the family:

the lizard....

                                      ........and the snake.  He's actually kinda cute.

Go catch some bugs!  Mata asobou, ne:)


Since writing and posting the above this morning, what do you suppose they've found now?

Yup--my daughter found mr. turtle in the river, and the neighbor boy was the brave volunteer who climbed over the fence and down the ladder steps embedded in the stone embankment down to the river to catch said reptile.  I nearly rolled my eyes, till I  looked at all those shining faces crowded around the box.

Ahh--so what if they're late for dinner.  Those excited faces are worth more than finished homework and table manners anyday.  Besides, the kids all decided to take Mr. T to school, so he'll not be stinking up my genkan:))

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Baby is a First-Grader

Ahhh--when the cherry trees are in full bloom, the view out our back sliding door is so lovely.  You almost can't see the power lines that disfigure so much of Japan...

The cherry trees have come and gone...

....and my baby is a first-grader.   Awww.  On the right getting ready to change into her "inside shoes" (a useful precaution taken by schools in Japan--keeps the floors much cleaner, especially since the kids do the floor cleaning.)  Like all schools over here, the children walk to school--there are no school buses except for kindergarten.  All kids (unless they got into a swanky private school) go to a community school within walking distance (about 10 minutes from our house to school).  Since there was no Civil Rights Movement, and therefore no enforced busing, they get to go to the school closest to home.  Nice.  ( Not saying the Civil Rights Movement was bad, just that there were drawbacks to busing kids to the other side of town).

There she is with her Landosel, those big backpacks that all japanese schoolkids use.  In the past, boys had black, girls had red, and that was that.  In the thirteen years I've been here, I've been witness to a sudden explosion in individuality--now there are over two dozen colors to choose from (Cici, as  you can see, chose yellow--although originally she wanted black, like her big brothers:).  In fact, although there is still tremendous pressure to conform, it doesn't seem to be as strong as it was when I came to Japan in '97.  Like maybe now if you're the nail that sticks up, you'll only get hammered half-way down....

One more picture, since the peach trees were *sooo* lovely this year (the mixed pink-and-white trees are my favorite:).....

Now that we're well into first grade and things have settled down  a bit, I should be able to post more often than  I have been!

Mata asobou, ne!