Child’s Play

It was Haruka’s 4th birthday last Sunday, so we invited her second cousins to join us to celebrate it at Fantasy Kids Resort in Ebina. After the poor behavior that they displayed last Wednesday, I was very close…VERY CLOSE, to canceling the invitation and taking Haru somewhere else.  As a matter of fact, we had already chosen the alternate venue and mapped out our route to get there the previous evening and pretty much planned the whole day out.  I was pretty much set, decided, and relieved about not having to spend a day with my wife’s ditsy cousin (and I am being very polite here because there are other less polite adjectives that more accurately describe her) , because there is only so much of her I can take in short period of time.  But on birthday morning my wife and her cousin had already decided to meet at the first venue as originally planned. I wasn’t very happy about the situation, so I made it abundantly clear that I would do the regulating if the two boys got out of line like they did earlier last week, regardless of whether or not their mother approves, because their mother clearly does not have the ability nor the intelligence to do it on her own.

The place in Ebina is basically a big indoor kids park complete with inflatable slides, trampolines, games, costumes (of course, what would Japan be without cosplay), and bouldering walls.  Apparently, even adults are allowed to slide down the inflatable slides as well, but for me, there is something really creepy and ridiculous about seeing a full grown adults enjoy sliding down slides made specifically for children under the age of 10, as much as some of these people did.  It just goes to show the maturity level of many people in this country. But what was really disturbing to me was when I saw an adult male (clearly way too big for the slides) jump up onto the inflatable slides, and unapologetically and shamelessly knocked down several small children on the way down. Luckily (for him) he had missed Haru by inches, or otherwise I would have had to unapologetically and shamelessly regulate his overgrown childish @$#! (seriously!  I already had three kids I had to watch -didn’t need another one, especially an over-sized one).

Haru and the younger of the two boys spent most of the time slide hopping and getting on the many different play gyms within the park, while the older boy spent most, if not all of his time gambling.  Let me clarify,  there were pachinko and slot machine types of games within the park. And much like the real thing, you can win coins if you get a certain combination of characters in a line.  Instead of winning money however, you win little medal tokens that allow you to play other medal games.   Call it what you may, it looked a lot like gambling to me and I thought it was highly inappropriate to get a five year into a habit of gambling at such a young age, even it’s just medal tokens.   There is a culture of under-aged gambling in this country, and as indicated in my previous entry this leads to an upbringing of highly irresponsible adults who’d rather spend hours upon hours gambling in a pachinko parlor while their kids starve, dehydrate, and or suffocate to death in a car in the parking lot. (see here if you don’t know what I am talking about).

But in way, this was a blessing in disguise, because Haru and the younger boy played quite peacefully throughout the day and there was very little intervention that needed to be done.  Had the older boy participated, it would have been a different story, but since him and his ditsy mother were distracted by the medal games, the day went much smoother than I had expected.

After a brief lunch and a break from the action, I took Haru to the cosplay section, where kids can choose from an assortment of different costumes and have their pictures taken (by the parents) against a backdrop with near professional grade lighting.  The princess dresses immediately caught Haru’s attention, so we got her dressed up and shot literally hundreds of photos of her in four different dresses.  Thank goodness for digital cameras, because had this been the age of traditional film cameras, I would be in the poor house now, but it was a lot of fun.  I think Haru’s favorite dress was the blue Cinderella dress.  I personally liked the red China dress or the Chun Li dress, as I called it (in reference to the character in the Streetfighter video game) , because she looked very natural in it.   Strangely enough, Haru made up all of the poses on her own, with very little couching from me.  I don’t know where she learned how to pose, but the outcome looks very professional and as if coached by a director or photographer.

Finally, we topped off the evening by going to out for dinner at a nearby crab restaurant.  The kids did get a little rowdy (probably from being a bit tired and hungry) but it took VERY little regulation from me to get them back in line.  All I had to do look at the younger boy, and shake my head (as to say no or stop) when he acted up, and he would stop immediately.  This tells me that he respected me more than he respected his own parents, because his mother described him as uncontrollable, and yet I had full control over him without even saying a word.   The older one took a slightly bit more effort, and when I say slightly I do mean slightly in the literal sense as opposed to the figurative sense of the word.  All I really did was say quiet down, and glared at him without giving him the goofy smile his mom usually gives him, and that was enough to keep him in check.  So easy, and yet their parents can’t do it, which is sad.  And of course, Haru was super easy, because we had a deal from the beginning that if she was good, she would get a special birthday present from me, so she behaved very well for the majority of the day.  And as a reward, we had an after-birthday birthday party complete with cake. And although she wanted a Tiffany doll (from the horror movie, Bride of Chucky) I got her a set of new accessories for her new Ricca doll instead, which she was very happy about.



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Number 4!

Haruka is now four years old today!  In the last year, she made tons of progress in terms of growth.  She’s picked up a lot of vocabulary and is able to articulate sentences a better.  She’s also bit more athletic and can do many things she couldn’t last year, and she’s grown a bit more taller.  For her birthday, we took her to Fantasy Kids Resort in Ebina with her two second cousins (yes, the little brats with the incompetent parents -see previous entry for details)  But things went fairly well (I will get into details about that in my next entry). For now, I just wanted to post a couple of pictures of the event.  More to come later…


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Incompetent Parenting

No pictures today.  I wanted to really dedicate and focus on a topic that has really been bothering me for a very VERY long time now.  So if you are looking for updates on Haru, or pictures or videos, move on, because there won’t be any this time.

click “Continue Reading” below for the rest of this post.

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Trick or Treat!

Its November again, and this is the month when things usually really start cooling off in Japan.  The days are getting much shorter to the point where I am now waking up in near complete darkness to go to work every morning again.   Trying to get up in the morning when things are still dark outside makes it a bit difficult, but aside from that, it’s kind of a nice feeling to know that I have a good head start on the day.

Yesterday was Halloween.  Haru had been looking forward to this day all year.  Originally, we were just going to take her to Disneyland (which we did) and call it a day, but my wife really wanted Haru experience Halloween as they do in western countries, complete with costume and trick or treating etc.  But since there is really no Halloween culture in Japan (aside from the commercial aspects of it), I suggested that it would be really difficult to have a real Halloween.

However, my wife didn’t give up there.  She managed to convince Haru’s classmate to participate in the event.  The original plan was to take Haru around to a couple of houses in the neighborhood where my wife had an arrangement with the families to give Haru a couple of pieces of candy, so that she could at least get a taste of what Halloween is like.  My initial reaction to the plan was that it sounded really silly, and that my wife is missing the entire point of Halloween which is to go out trick or treating with a bunch of friends and have fun with friends (which I still believe to be true).  So, I wasn’t too into it at first.  I honestly thought that my wife is just setting Haru for disappointment so I really didn’t want any part of it.

As Halloween neared, word had spread amongst the kindergarten kids in the neighborhood that there would be trick or treating going on on Halloween. Of course, many parents (let alone the kids) didn’t know what trick or treating was.  They just knew that Halloween was something to do with pumpkins and witches.  Eventually, what initially started as one little girl and her mother visiting only a couple of  houses to get a prearranged Halloween treat, grew to two girls going to four houses.  Then it became two girls and a boy going to six houses, and so one and so forth until it had eventually grown into a respectable sized group of kindergarten aged kids visiting a nice sized pool of houses.  I was truly impressed!

Everyone knows that Halloween is October 31st, but since it fell on a Monday this year, our trick or treating event took place the night before so that the kids would have nice topic of conversation to discuss with the other kids at kindergarten the next.  It reminded me of the days when I went trick or treating and went to school the next day and shared and traded my candies with the other kids.

Everyone met at a nearby park in the early evening.  Unfortunately, it started to rain a bit and the whole event was nearly canceled.  But one of the other childrens’ mothers encouraged all of the other mothers to participate anyways (despite the rain), and there was a pretty nice turn out.  I stayed at home to distribute the candy when the kids came by.  So I lit the jack o’ lantern  that I spent nearly four hours so meticulously carving to make it resemble Mike Wazowski from the movie Monsters Inc. (a character that Haru had grown fond of from watching the movie many MANY times.)  Unfortunately, since the pumpkin had been sitting outside for nearly a week at this point, so it was starting to rot and was getting kind of dangerous to light up with a candle, so  I stuck a candle in the fake pumpkin that my mom had sent us several weeks earlier.  Since it was raining outside, I had to place the artificial jack o’ lantern underneath the overhang on our porch to make sure that the rain didn’t extinguish the candle inside.

At about six o’clock in evening, Haru, and her group of kindergartner friends stopped by to collect their treats.  The doorbell rang, and through the video intercom, all I could see were a bunch of umbrellas standing outside of our front gate.  Since it was so dark outside, I couldn’t really tell how many kids where there.  I was expecting the kids to come up to the front door to collect their candies, but when I opened the door, all I saw were a bunch of parents holding umbrellas outside of the gate with what looked to be like little frightened kids huddled behind them.   Then I heard a single voice boom “TRICK OR TREAT”.  Of course this was Haru; none of the other kids really knew what trick or treat was, so they were puzzled by Haru’s random exclamation.   I called out to the kids to just walk up to the door, but the kids remained huddled behind their parents looking somewhat frightened and puzzled over the entire tradition.  It didn’t look as if the kids were going to walk up the steps, so I went down to the gate with bowl of candy in hand.  As I approached the gate, it appeared to be about 10 kids in total (not bad considering that this is a first time Halloween event in our neighborhood).  The kids still looked a bit puzzled and frightened until I gave out the first bit of candy to Haru to demonstrate the 500 year old Scottish tradition.   Then the other kids  slowly creeped out from behind their parents  and collected their candies too.  Haru then shouted “THANK YOU” (in English) like a true trick or treating veteran, and they were on their way to the next house.  None of the other kids said anything.  I think they were more confused that anything.

I expected them to be back within 20 – 30 minutes or so, because although a respectable number for a first time trick or treat event, there were only a few houses participating.  But, amazingly, they were gone for a good hour or so, which surpassed my expectations.  That’s about the right amount of time for kids Haru’s age should be trick our treating to fully enjoy it.   The overall haul of candy was pretty good too.  Haru carried around a little cloth bag in the shape of a pumpkin which was pretty full when she got home.  Overall I would call the event a  complete success!  I am just sorry that I didn’t get more involved in the beginning.

So for next year, I think we have a good incentive to make this a much bigger event and try to get more neighborhood children involved so that we can make Halloween more meaningful and fun for everyone (at least in our neighborhood).

Next stop: Christmas!



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