First Trip To Disneyland

Yesterday was Haruka’s second birthday, so we decided to take her to Tokyo Disneyland.  I always believed that anyone under five years old is too young for Disneyland, especially a two year old.  But since my cousins have taken their kids to Disneyland on several occasions, my wife insisted that we spend Haru’s second birthday there.

For the most part, the day went without incident.  However, lately Haruka has been expressing fear emotions.   In terms of emotional growth and milestones, I’m not sure if she’s on par or late.  She certainly isn’t early, because up until a week or so ago, she seemed to not to fear anything.  But now she fears dark rooms, and certain objects (even some of her toys that she use to play with all the time, like Howard, her realistically creepy baby doll.

After having woken up at around 6:30am, spending an hour getting ready, and the hour to drive out to Chiba prefecture where Tokyo Disneyland is located, we arrived at around at about 8:30am to an already huge crowd of people waiting for the front gates to open.  The main reason we chose to go on a Friday instead of Saturday, was to avoid the weekend crowd.  However, that didn’t really seem to matter at all since there were tons of people with children there anyways.  The whole entire time, I wondered why those kids weren’t in school.

At precisely 9am, the crowd of waiting visitors poured into the front gates and immediately began to scatter.  Many people were running, undoubtedly trying to get a good position in line at some of the more popular rides.  Although in the past, my mission was to hit as many popular rides that I could, but the mission this time was just to enjoy Disneyland and get on the rides we could get on without having to wait in the ridiculously long lines.

Haruka was still groggy and grumpy from having been woken up so early, and I don’t think she understood the whole concept of Disneyland.  To her, we were just in a place with a lot of people.  But after we got on the first ride, which was It’s a Small World,which is officially her favorite ride, I think she began to understand that Disneyland is a fun place.  However, after we rode on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and The Pirates of the Caribbean, she also equated many of the rides as being scary.   She never cried, but she would get antsy while in line and repeatedly say “scary scary”.

After a small lunch, Haru took a long 90 minute nap. During this time, my wife and I sat around for a while, contemplating on what to do next while snacking on popcorn and ice cream.

Haruka woke up a bit grumpy again, so we gave her some of our left over ice cream  to bring up her spirits.

Afterwards, we took Haru on It’s a Small World again, and also the Merrie-Go-Round.  She enjoyed It’s a Small World but the Merrie-Go-Round seemed to have bored her.  She also seemed to also enjoy the Buzz Lightyear ride;  I wanted to take her on the Haunted Mansion, but given the negative reaction she had to Winne the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Peter Pan, we decided to save it for the next time.

Later in evening, we went to the Chef Mickey Restaurant at the Disney Ambassador Hotel.  My wife had been trying for weeks to get a reservation at this somewhat exclusive restaurant, and eventually was able to pull through after someone had canceled.  The restaurant is a buffet style restaurant where the Disney characters come and visit and greet customers at their tables.  I think this was the highlight of the day for Haruka.  Although she seemed to be a bit reluctant to approach the characters at first, she eventually got use them.  In the course of the evening, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto visited Haruka 4 times each.  By the fourth visit to our table, Haru was dancing with the characters and giving them kisses.

After dinner, we took the shuttle bus back to the Magic Kingdom, and watched the closing fireworks by Cinderalla’s Castle.  Haruka seemed to enjoy that show as well.  We then hit the shops where my wife bought some hair accessories for Haru, and we also got her new blanket complete Disney characters on it.

Overall, despite Haruka’s continuous complaints of certain rides, it went pretty well.  I still do believe that Disneyland is for children 5 years old and older, but given her age I think it was as good as it could get.  I, however was really exhausted after the day was over.  And as much as I like Disneyland, I don’t think we’ll be going back until Haru is old enough to understand a bit more about what it’s all about.

Haru and Donald Duck

Haru and Pluto

Haru and Mickey Mouse

X-mas tree


Haru and the Ducks

mid-day nap

Haru and Minnie Mouse, her favorite character

giant x-mas tree on Main Street

Fireworks at Cinderella’s castle

Here is a video of the day’s highlights:

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Haruka’s English

Today was Haruka’s second birthday, and so we took her to Tokyo Disneyland.  It was her very first trip to Disneyland and to say the very least, one of the most exhausting  trips ever.  Too tired to get into details now, so I will elaborate tomorrow.    So for today, I will post a video of Haruka singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Happy 2nd Birthday!

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My wife recently bought Haruka some Edison Chopsticks, or training chopsticks for kids.  My initial reaction was, she’s too young and all she’ll do is make a bigger mess with her food.  At first, it seemed that my prediction was right because she held the chopstick quite awkwardly in her had, and used it to stab her food.  But in my amazement, only after a couple of corrections from my wife, and really closely watching me use my chopsticks, she was able to master it in just a few minutes.  There are still things a few food items that she wasn’t able to pick up with her chopsticks like tofu, which is way too soft and takes precision that even some adults lack, but she was able to pick up most foods.  I am truly amazed.

Haruka eating food with her chopsticks

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Tough Love

“Tough Love” is quite an interesting oxymoron, or two or more unlike terms combined to make another term.  It basically describes a relationship where strong measures need to be taken in order to help a difficult situation.  Lately, I’ve been having to exercise tough love on Haru, because she has a very had habit of hitting.  She’s hit her mother, the dogs, her second cousin, and me on multiple occasions.  She does this when she’s angry or frustrated about something.  I did some brief research on this, and learned that it’s pretty common amongst 2 year olds.  They have yet to form the verbal skills necessary to communicate their frustrations so often times the resort to hitting.

The most difficult part has been teaching Haru that hitting is wrong and that she shouldn’t hit anyone.  The second most difficult part is getting her to feel remorse and apologize when she does it.  My wife has taught her to bow her head down a bit as sort of an apologetic gesture, but rather it being a meaningful apology, it’s somewhat of that programmatic “If, Then” response to certain behavior patterns.  In other words, when she does something wrong, she automatically just gives an apologetic bow, without knowing why or the significance of the gesture.  All she has learned is that action B should follow action A without knowing why.  And often times, it’s almost like a game to her, and she shows no emotional remorse for her action, nor does she understand that she did something wrong and has angered us.

Last night, while getting ready for her bath, Haru slapped her mother, which angered her.   When my wife demanded an apology, she gave her usual half-hearted and meaningless bow that she does,  and continued playing as if nothing happened.  Well, this time my wife was truly angry and didn’t let her off that easily.  She grabbed Haru, sat her down, and demanded a meaningful verbal apology.  Of course, Haru could not comprehend this, and just smiled and continued to play.

I thought it was time that Haru finally learned that slapping people and  animals is unacceptable.  I started by telling Haru in a very  firm and stern tone that slapping is wrong and unacceptable behavior.  Of course, I spoke to her in a language she understands, but even so, she refused to listen and started playing with her toys.  I escalated by disciplinary tactics by making her sit in front of me and look me in the eye, which did no good either because she thought I was just playing with her.  I then removed her toys which seemed to the main distraction, which made her upset and she became very vocal with me and attempted to slap me.

This continued for a while and Haru continued to defy my wife and me, and thought the whole thing was a game.  I was starting to understand the problem, which mainly stemmed around her not being able to distinguish right from wrong, which of course is normal for a child Haru’s age.  I also identified that she is unable to understand emotions fully.  For example, she is unable tell whether we are angry with her, or if we are playing with her.

I’ve researched emotions, and the display of emotions through facial expressions in the past during my brief period as a psychology major during college.  One thing I found amazing is that children aren’t able to fully identify other people’s emotions through facial expressions alone until their mid to late teens, or even sometimes even older.  And because of this, they are unable to empathize with other people’s feelings and in turn often unintentionally inflict more emotional pain on others.  This is why teasing and bullying is rampant during childhood, and why it is often equated with immature behavior.

So if young adults can’t understand emotions through facial expressions, I can’t really expect an almost 2 year old to.  So showing Haru that we were angry by eye contact and frowning at her was pretty futile.  Raising my voice and speaking in a slightly elevated tone works sometimes, but it didn’t seem to be working too well last night, as she just shrugged it off and ignored me.

Making her sit in front me and listen to me lecture her only frustrated her even more and only caused her to hit my wife and me even more.  So I really had to think of a way to communicate to her that hitting was wrong.  The next thing I tried was demonstrating to her through hand gestures by showing her that slapping hurts.  At first it seemed to have worked.  She was able to link that slapping hurts and we didn’t like it, but she still didn’t seem to understand that it was wrong behavior.  Some web sites suggest that children do understand that it is the wrong thing to do, but continue to do it to test their boundaries or get a reaction.

I also learned that children learn more quickly through action more than anything else.  One well known pediatrician in Japan suggested that if your two year old child slaps you, the best thing to do is slap back.  Of course, she didn’t say to slap hard, but to slap hard enough to make the child understand that slapping is undesirable behavior.  People tend to be judgmental of those who spank children.  I personally am for keeping things real.  I also strongly believe that children should be afraid of their parents (especially their father) to some degree.   Of course, they shouldn’t be so afraid that they’re too frightened to approach the parent, but it should be just enough so that they’d think twice before doing something wrong.  I believe this is what tough love is; no parent enjoys hitting their kids to any degree, but I think sometimes it’s the most effective way to get a point across.

Ultimately, I chose to use the pediatrician’s method.  When Haru slapped me, I would slap her back in the same manner with equal force.  It’s enough to show her that we are serious, and that this was not a game.  She eventually started to listen, understand and showed some signs of remorse.  Most of all, it got her to stop slapping us, because she knew she would get it back.  Hopefully Haru is able to pick up the difference between right and wrong soon, and learn to control herself.

in mischievous mode again

This is a video from our onsen trip last week. She loves pillows and futons

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Back to Izu

Last week, I took a couple of days off from work and took the family to Izu, the same place we went to last year on Haruka’s first birthday.  We stayed at the same onsen lodge we stayed last year because the food was really good, and the place is usually empty on the weekdays so we get a full run of the place.

I’m not sure if it was because of the long drive up there, or if it was because Haruka is a lot more of handful than she was last year, or if was the dogs, but for some reason I was really exhausted by the time we arrived.   Before we checked into the lodge, we stopped off at Cactus Park, a sort of a zoo that actually allowed pets.  In some areas, some  animals like peacocks, turkeys, and tree monkeys roam freely throughout the park.  This was all pretty interesting, but the dogs didn’t seem to like the animals roaming around, especially the tree monkeys and birds, so it was pretty stressing trying to control the dogs and Haru, who wanted see and touch everything.

We stayed at Cactus Park for about 2 hours, and then moved on to our lodge.  The owners, a couple and a woman who appeared to be the mother of the couple, greeted us as they did last year.  They seemed to have remembered us or maybe they just saw our names on the reservation.

Later that evening, I had a nice bath in the spring water and then we all had dinner.  It was probably the best sashimi I have ever had.  It was very fresh and very good.  The spiny lobster wasn’t live this year, and was half cooked, which in all honesty wasn’t that great.  But everything else was really good.  Haruka got her own children’s dinner which was a couple of onigiri’s, but she only ate one of them and then insisted on having what we were having.  So my wife and I gave her some of what we were having.  Haruka especially liked the Matsutake soup which is a pretty exclusive (and expensive)  delicacy in Japan, and proceeded to drink over half of mine.

The next day, we took the dogs up to Mountain Dog Ground, which is one of their favorite places.  Maybe they’re getting or perhaps it they just weren’t in the mood, bu the dogs didn’t seem to enjoy the dog grounds as much as they did last year.    I threw a tangerine for them to fetch as I usually do, but Princess didn’t seem as interested as she normally was.  But I think we were all pretty tired, and maybe Cactus Park took a lot out of them.

Overall, the whole trip was a bit more slower and tiring than last year, but we still had a lot of fun.  Next trip:  Tokyo Disneyland?

Haruka and the chimpanzee

Haruka and the pony

Best sashimi…ever!

more sashimi

it’s like a stage

Haruka enjoying my matsutake soup

and more of my matsutake soup

Haru and Jenna at Mountain Dog Ground

Princess and Jenna

another pic

Haru and Princess

The video of us at Cactus Park:

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