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.