Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
My son the Fireball, who is now 3 years old, had his first Nyuenshiki (入園式 / School Entrance Ceremony) on 10th April. It did not begin well. The early morning routine turned into a bawling competition between parents and child. Fireball was refusing EVERYTHING (i.e. breakfast, changing clothes, carrying his own bag & bottle… the list went on). He kept yelling “DAKKO DAKKO!” (the only Japanese phrase he’s very fond of), which means “carry, carry me!” Of which, it was directed exclusively at mummy.
If you have heard about the Japanese school entrance ceremony, you will know that it is a big formal event. That morning, my husband and I disagreed as to what to wear for the ceremony. For the first time, he insisted in wearing a business suit. I suspected that it was his way of blending in with the Papa-tachi (father group). I disliked dressing up or putting on makeup, especially while handling a struggling toddler, who will step all over me when I carry him. Moreover, WALKING to school with a 12.5 kg boy gripping on in koala-style, and on painful heels, is no laughing matter. Not wanting to be a mess by the time we reached the kindergarten, I dressed in my comfortable (but presentable) clothes and was true to my endangered Suppin Clan (Japanese slang for “No Makeup”). I was prepared to be frown upon. Anyway, I would be too stressed up to care. [The classic Blackcabbit’s delinquency at work. LOL]
My boy’s social life has often been the biggest concern for me. Most of the time, I speak English to him (because my Japanese is not fluent at all) while the rest of the family speaks Japanese. So, I’m not sure if that has caused him to be a late talker. Often, when he meets other children, he will just run around them instead of playing with them. The kids around his age will ignore him since they find his words strange and foreign. I TRY not to let this worry me and trust that he will catch up, and for better or worst, turn into a little chatterbox (like his mummy).
Unfortunately, that morning, something happened and sent my anxiety level to sky high! We were gathering in Fireball’s classroom as the teachers addressed the large crowd. Most children were sitting in front. Fireball and some of the smaller ones insisted of staying with mummies. Out of nowhere, we met this very active, bigger-build boy. He suddenly kicked “M” the boy next to mine. M’s mother did not see it. So I told the boy sternly that he shouldn’t do that. Then, he turned and kicked Fireball several times. I stopped him by holding his leg, scolding him at the same time. The boy screamed at me, and with super lightning speed, YANKED a handful of my hair out!!! By then, the mothers around us were saying “Where is his mother, you should tell the teacher!”
Unable to locate the mother, not sure who she was, I approached the teacher-in-charge. She just smiled and nodded. Unbelievable! I wasn’t sure if she understood me, so I looked for my husband. He did not see what happened since he was at the back of the class but he tried to translate. Again, the teacher just nodded (and smiled). I went ballistic, all ready to confront the boy’s parents myself. “Fortunately” for them, they were no where in sight.
What worries me most is Fireball’s and M’s lack of reaction. Not only they endured the bashing quietly, they did not cry for help. I wasn’t sure why the teacher did not address my complaint. Maybe I should trust her years of experience and I’d love to find out her reasons or her secret strategy. Don’t they see the necessity of correcting the erratic behavior INSTANTLY? Personally, I felt that if this problem isn’t nipped in the bud, it will soon get totally out of hand. That boy will learn to enjoy being a bully, while smaller kids will developed learned helplessness. The lack of early intervention is probably why bullying is a rampant issue in Japan. We have monthly teacher-parent group sessions, so if Shirankao (知らん顔 / feigned ignorance) is the adults’ way of handling bullies, I will make myself heard LOUD & CLEAR (even if I have to lose more hair in the process!). At the meantime, I will do my best to teach Fireball to avoid a bully, and most importantly, not learn to become one.
One after another clingy, screaming, tearful little angel was drop off. My son’s dreadful separation anxiety was rather short-lived. I peeped through the bushes and saw him in high spirit. He was enjoying his new-found freedom. He went in and out of his classroom while the teachers were busy comforting his classmates.
When I picked up Fireball after school, the teacher (not saying anything) just handed me a mysterious bag of something. It was his heavily dirt-stained apron and shirt after mud play. I guess I should be expecting this every time. ~~~>_<~~~ Now I know why they gave out the soap as “First-day” present. It proved to be extremely useful after all. LOL