Three years ago this week, Haru started what is to be a 15 year (minimum) academic career. She was only three years ago, and I remember thinking how she had grown up since she was a baby. But as I reflect back and read my old blogs and look at the old pictures, I can’t believe what a little baby she was back then compared to now. Of course, six years from now, when she graduates from elementary school, and six year from that point when she graduates from high school, I will probably looking back to this moment and looking at these pictures and saying the same exact thing.
Three years ago this week, when Haru began Kindergarten, it was for some, the very first time away from their families. Many kids were crying at the initiation ceremony, as they were forced to sit with their fellow classmates and away from their families for the first time. Haru never shed a tear through the whole event. As a mater of fact, she offered comfort to her now best friend, Yuka, who back then was a very quiet and somewhat sad child, who rarely smiled.
The initiation ceremony at Haru’s new school was quite different. First of all, there was hardily any crying -not by the students at least. I did spot one boy who was crying during the ceremony, but I have no idea why. As the new first graders entered the the auditorium, a chorus of upper class boys and girls sang songs very off key and off tempo, and they really did sound unrehearsed and just plain awful. At Haru’s old kindergarten, this would have been un-thought of, but I guess the quality level drops a bit when going from private school to public school. But the one thing that really caught my attention were the teachers -more specifically the principal teacher. Apparently he is new -just started this spring, which was kind of obvious. He gave a really awful speech during the ceremony. Maybe I am just a stickler for proper wording, but he was say some really peculiar things in his speech. As an example, there was this one line that caught my attention, he said, “We are trying to become a more happy and cheerful school”. Trying? In my own head, this implied that the school is a sad and gloomy place to be, and going by the school’s overall appearance, it did seem that way.
Maybe I was too use to seeing the cleanliness and upkeep of Haru’s kindergarten, or maybe I was too use to the cleanliness of the elementary school that I attended, but Haru’s new school looked pretty bad. Maybe the principal was referring to the external appearance of the school? If so, that would definitely be a welcomed change, because I’d personally hate to spend six hours a day where the paint is pealing, and walls looked so gray.
On a brighter note, Haru was able to see some of her old kindergarten classmates at the initiation ceremony. Except for Yuka, who wound up being in Haru’s class once again, the other former classmates were sorted into other classrooms. But having Yuka in her classroom once again was a very positive thing, since the kids have been the best of friends for 3 years now.
It’s April, and this is Haru’s last week of spring break. Last week, she spent four days at Luck Ski Camp, with a few of her kindergarten classmates. When I was initially approached about this camp idea a few months ago, I didn’t think it was a big deal -after all, she did attend the Camp Luck last summer and she had a great time. I also thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to have some much needed quiet time for myself. However, as the time came closer and closer, I became more aware of the details about the ski camp and it had gotten me into somewhat of a personal frenzy.
Somehow, I was under the illogical notion that the camp will be fairly close to Yokohama. But of course, that would be impossible, because snow in Yokohama in late March would be an extremely rare occurrence. Even if it did snow in Yokohama in late March, it would be implausible that there would be enough snow to ski. So I don’t know why or where I got the idea that it would be anywhere nearby.
Her previous Camp Luck trip was to Yamanashi, which is about an hour away, should there be a need to drive up there in the case of an emergency. This ski trip was in Niigata which is about 4 hours away, assuming that there is no snow on the roads on the way up. So unlike her previous trip, accessibility would be pretty poor, should something happen.
This sent my mind racing with “what if” questions. I tried to hatch up contingency plans for these what if scenarios. Would I be able to get to her, if she is injured? What if something happens here? Would she be able to come back?
Later, I learned that her kindergarten friend and rival Yuka S. was not going. Apparently her father was not comfortable with the idea of his daughter being so far away, and didn’t want her to attend camp until she has started elementary school. Again, I started to question if this ski camp was a good idea. If this was just a regular camp where they would be spending a few days in the mountains catching bugs and lizards, then it wouldn’t be such a big deal to me. But so many things can go wrong on a sports outing such as this, especially given the fact that Haru has never skied before.
I began to debate in my head whether to pull the plug on this whole ski camp idea. This is a bad bad idea. I thought to myself. She’s too young.If I said no and explain to her why she can’t go, she would surely understand. She can stay home and watch cartoons, and play with the neighborhood kids. But the more I tried to justify the reason in my head, the more ridiculous it got. The reality is, she would never understand. She would be extremely disappointment and resentful that I canceled her much anticipated trip just days before she planned to leave. I just have to get over my own silly anxiety. After all, hundreds of kids are going, including her friends from school, so it will all be good, and I can get the much needed quiet time that I really needed.
The night before Haru left for ski camp, I was a bit of a nervous wreck. I made it point to put down my usual routine of checking my email, surfing the net, and doing other thing I would normally do to wind down after work, in favor of focusing more of my attention on Haru. I found myself lecturing her on being careful and to listen to everything that the camp counselors say. She went to bad at her usual time, 9PM and usually I would stay up later to catch up on my TV shows etc, but I went to bed only slightly later.
The next morning, I woke up at my usual wake up time, 4:50AM. Haru was still fast to sleep. I was tempted to wake her up so I could give her a hug, and lecture her again on being careful and listening to the camp counselors, but I knew she would not welcome that. So instead, I just gave her kiss on her forehead and left for work.
The next few days were suppose to relaxing cartoons, toys, child, and noise free days for me and I had been looking forward to it. But the reality is that although it was a cartoons, toys, child, and noise free four days, it was packed full of worries. It’s amazing how a person’s mind under stress and anxiety can imagine even the unimaginable. There were no daily pictures, emails, or progress reports from Camp Luck to relieve the worry or anxiety. Even the pet hotels that we boarded Princess and Jenna at gave daily reports. So unfortunately, the relaxing carefree Haru-free days that I was anticipating turned out to be much more stressful than I had planned. The only day when I had any sort of relief from the worries what when my wife and I went to see a movie together. This is the first time in probably 10 years since we went to see a movie without Haru.
Haru returned from camp last Sunday evening. Sunday was probably the only day when I got any real peace from anyone including myself. I felt relieved that she was finally coming home. She was extremely excited and all she could talk about was how much she loved skiing. As a matter of fact, she insisted that we all pack up and go skiing the following weekend. We explained to her that ski season was coming to end and that we would have to do it the following winter -that is if we go at all. I guess she figured that there was always snow up in the mountains because she didn’t quite get the concept of what a ski season was. Eventually, although it took several hours, she calmed down and got off the subject of skiing.
I was happy that she enjoyed herself and relieved that she came back in one piece. Although I haven’t gone skiing in almost 20 years, I think this is a good opportunity start again. Perhaps this winter, we can go all go skiing together.
Below are pictures from the camp. They are not the best of quality, because I actually did a screen capture from the DVD that the camp sent us. I was surprised how quickly she was able to learn to ski. She stumbled an fell a lot on the first day, but by the second day she was skiing fairly well.
Here is the DVD video from the camp coordinator. It’s very long -almost 2 hours, so I included some links of the areas where Haru can be seen.