Here are some of the signs, or recorded proof that I am often out of my element, or struggling to make myself understood. Raising kids in Japan is not always the easiest, but it is good. Our kids know lots about travel, accents, longing, and belonging. Maybe much of this is true if you are international, expat, bicultural, or multilingual. Gimme your thoughts!
1. Your three-year-old suddenly loves using the word “boobies” with what she has deemed, “a French accent”. She also experiments with a clean British accent, at which point she lifts her chin and calls out, “Mother”–
2. She has understood the International Date Line for years.
3. Your son’s day care teacher uses a translate app to log his day, penning, “This is shit” to tell me about diarrhoea.
4. Only one person (a girl’s mom you tutor) calls your home phone. Because everyone else has learned it is useless to call.
5. All the day care parents think you have the most fashionable kids ever because on vacations and in care packages, there is Target, otherwise known as The Best Place in America, barring family and spiritual community.
6. You once called out, “Poor kid!” to a baby and his mother when you really wanted to say, “Wow, so cute.” (Your husband then scuttled you off at the next stop).
7. You sing each word to every Muzak song played at the grocery store, with a sophisticated air, as if to say, “I may be
slightly illiterate here, but I know my American songs, you guys.” (Sometimes “you guys” is substituted for a more pizzazzy word, like “b—–s” or “jerks”).
9. You cannot ask anything or explain anything, but your smile lines sure get lots of use. They are now deep, deep grooves.
You can’t fake joy, you don’t want to just “get through the day”. I figure it best to start with a smile. I can always learn Japanese…right??
Here’s lookin’ at you,