Summer Slumber party


For last several months during the remodeling of Haru’s bedroom, the neighborhood kids, whom I fondly refer to as the mini breakfast club (in my own head of course), have been clamoring to have a sleep over at our place.  This whole idea sounded absolutely disastrous to me.  A bunch of little kids staying all night in Haru’s tiny little bedroom? I wasn’t having it.

But as time went on, tensions built up to the point where this sleep over was going to happen no matter what.  My wife had already been speaking with the kids’ parents and planning on things like what to have for dinner that night, the kids were talking about this practically on a daily basis, and for Haru, it was almost a constant topic of conversation.    So whole the event had grown bigger than me to the point that if I had forbidden it, I would had been perceived as an overbearing person not only to the neighborhood kids, but to their parents as well -not that I really cared what anyone really thinks of me.   So at this point, the event was beyond my control and it wasn’t a question of whether or not it was going to happen, but when it was going to happen.

As we finished up Haru’s bedroom and D-day approached, I learned more details about who was going to be coming over.  Initially, I thought it would be 2 or 3 girls at the absolute most.  Since Haru talks about Ai and Momo, the sisters who are pretty much the leaders of the breakfast club, I was under the impression that they’d be the two friends staying over, and only those two only.  But I quickly learned that more kids had been invited to stay over, and I was beginning to see to what scale this inevitable disaster was going to be.

By the time all of the talks and invites had happened, it wound up being three girls and a boy who had been invited.  Wait a minute.  Hold the phone!  A boy??!  No one said anything about inviting boys over for the sleep over.  This is when the proverbial foot came down.  NO BOYS!  I don’t mind when boys came over to play during the day, but stay over?  No way!  Not while I am alive!  I was adamant about this and I told Haru and my wife straight out, girls -yes, boys -absolutely positively unequivocally NO!   NO EXCEPTIONS!!!  In my opinion, allowing this would set a precedence and give Haru the idea that we think its okay for boys to come over and spend the night; this is definitely not the message that I want to install especially at such a young age.

This may be a slippery slope argument, but if we were to allow this to happen, what is stopping her from inviting two boys in the future?  Or instead of a six year old boy, what if she invites over a 10 year old boy? Or even a 13 year old boy?  Where do we draw the line?  After all, Ai and Momo are both much older than Haru (11 and 12 years old), so what is stopping her from inviting a 11 or 12 year old boy to a sleep over?

The counter argument is that the boy is the brother of one of the girls who was invited to stay.  I happen to know this boy, and he’s not really like the other neighborhood boys.  Despite being a year older than Haru, he is very small (a few inches shorter than Haru), and he is very innocent and even somewhat girlish.  He’s not the typical rowdy, loud, rude, and unruly boy like the other neighborhood boys.  But that is really besides the point.

Over the next few days, Haru kept nagging me to allow the boy stay over, and my answer was always the same…No!  I even went as far as telling her that if she keeps pestering me about it, that the whole sleep over will be called off, and she became quiet after that.  Later that day, my wife approached me and said, “let the boy come”, and again my answer was no.  A six year old girl should not have a boy staying overnight in her room.  Its a very dangerous precedence to set at her age, I explained.  Then my explained that if we don’t allow the boy to come, his parents won’t allow his sister to come.  My immediate reaction was, so what?  That’s really not my problem.  All I need to be concerned about is Haru’s well-being.  But at the same time, I knew that Haru was really close to the other three girls and the boy.   I personally don’t care if the kids hate me, or if their parents hate  me, but I knew that if I stood my ground on this, Haru might express some resentment towards me later, and she  might also get the backlash from her friends.

So what do I do?  If I allow it, I have to be prepared for Haru asking if the other neighborhood boys can spend the night in the future.  If I said no, then this may be the first and last sleep over that she hosts.  After careful -very careful thought, I came to a decision.  It wasn’t the perfect solution, but it was a compromise.

I sat Haru and my wife down, and told them that the boy can come to the sleep over.  However, I made it abundantly clear that this was a VERY special case and that it won’t EVER happen again.  I don’t care who it is or if the boy is the brother, cousin, or best friend of one of Haru’s other friends, the answer is going to be an automatic and non-negotiable no, and not to even ask me the next time.  And IF they do ask me, I will forbid the whole sleep over all together.  This would be an extremely special circumstance, and if the boy or anyone else misbehaves in any way, they’ll all be sent home immediately.  They both agreed (hopefully).

The sleep over happened on the final weekend of Haru’s summer break.  As you can imagine, Haru was extremely excited and hyperactive all day.  I mean she was lit!  If they could harness all of the energy and excitement that was coursing through her veins and make some kind of synthetic drug from it,  it would sell like hotcakes.  No one would ever use meth or cocaine again, because this drug would be a thousand times more potent.  She was literally bounce off of walls and furniture, and there was no way to defuse her.

The plan was to have all the kids come over in the evening after they have bathed at their homes, so that when they arrived, they would have dinner, watch some TV, and go to bed.  That was the plan, but of course things like this never go as planned.

Everyone came over a little after 7PM.  I went out to go fetch the pizzas at the local pizza shop.  When I came home with the pizzas, the kids had already had Pirates of the Caribbean playing on the DVR.  The tension level had risen by a thousand percent, so high that the kids where laughing at places where it wasn’t even suppose to be funny.  The only quiet person in the bunch was surprisingly Gosuke, the only boy.  He was quietly watching TV and not really paying too much attention to the girls.

As soon as I delivered the pizzas, everyone dug in and scarfed them down.  I had ordered a Hawaiian Delight pizza for myself,which was pretty much the only pizza made in Japan that I really liked.  Everything else they sell here is pretty gross.  For example, the kids requested shrimp and mayonnaise pizza, which in my opinion is pretty disgusting.  Haru also likes the Hawaiian delight, so we shared my pizza, while everyone else at the weird stuff.  But when the kids learned that Haru and I were eating a pizza with pineapples on it, everyone gave a simultaneous gasp of disbelief.  Pineapples??  Really? Ewl gross!!  However, Ai, the eldest girl was willing venture into the unknown and try a slice of the Hawaiian Delight.  Although she ate the whole slice, she never really commented as to whether on not she liked it.

After everyone finished their pizzas, the kids decided to play Tarzan on Haru’s climbing rope.   Tarzan was a huge hit.  Everyone took turns swinging across the room on the gym rope.  This went on for about an hour until I finally called bedtime, and everyone hustled up to Haru’s room, where my wife had set up the air mattress and futons for the kids.  We expected that Haru would sleep up in the loft, while the other kids slept on the floor on the futons and the air mattress.  But for some reason, all of the kids (all five of them) bunched up together on the double sized air mattress.  I told them to spread out a bit so that they can all sleep more comfortably, but they all refused and continued to sleep on the air mattress.

I left them on their own and headed to the living room to watch some late night TV and do some net surfing.  But I could barely concentrate or even hear anything on TV over the racket being made up in Haru’s room.  The sound of laughter continued for several minutes, and gradually died as it got late.  Things seemed to have dies down at around midnight.  Finally! I thought to myself.  Now I can finally enjoy a quiet evening to myself….or so I thought.

After about 30 minutes of silence, a huge laughter broke out once again.  Ugh!  These kids will never go to sleep!  Then the sound of five pairs of feet hurdled down the stairs lead by Ai, the leader of the bunch.  We can’t sleep, can we stay up and watch TV with you?  Absolutely positively not! I said.  Go back upstairs and go to sleep, or you all go home.

I escorted the kids back up to Haru’s room.  Again, they all huddled together on the air mattress.  Why don’t you all spread out?  You’ve got so much room, there is no need for all of you to sleep on that little mattress together.  They all looked at one another as if to choose which person would sleep by themselves.  But before they even made the decision, I told Haru to sleep in her own loft, and the sister and brother sleep together on the pair of futons.  Haru started to tear up and cry.  I don’t want to sleep by myself, I want to sleep with everyone else.  Sigh!  Alright, the loft can hold two people.  Anyone else want to sleep in the loft with Haru.  Moe, the boy’s older sister half-heartedly raised her hand and volunteered.  Does Haruka sleep soundly, she asked.  Haru has been known to fall from bed on a quite a few occasions.  We had to put a bed guard on her loft, because she could seriously injure herself if she fell from her loft onto the floor. Not to mention that she tends to kick people while asleep.  But before I could say anything, Moe got a glance at the bed guard and put her hand back down…never mind, I will sleep on the floor.  After several minutes of trying to negotiate with the kids, I decided that my efforts were fruitless.  Sleep wherever you like, but if you are not asleep within the next 30 minutes, everyone goes home.  The kids bunched up on the air mattress once again, and they were asleep within minutes.

I’m not sure what time I fell asleep but it must have been some time after 2AM.  I was so tired and was looking forward to sleeping in the next day.  Since the kids didn’t go to sleep until late, I figured that they would be sleeping in pretty late as well.  It seemed liked only minutes since I closed my eyes and fell asleep, when I began to hear giggles coming from Haru’s room again. Sigh!  C’mon!  Go to sleep already! I thought to myself.  No chance!  The giggles grew louder until it became full laughters.  I opened my eyes and glanced over at the wall clock. 5:45AM!  You’re joking!  Sounds of feet heading down the stairs soon followed.  Ayayay!   They only slept like 3 or 4 hours. Where do they get all this energy from? I gave my wife a little nudge to wake her up.  It’s your turn.

 

I headed down to the living room at around 8AM.  The kids were eating left over pizza while watching TV.  No one seemed too tired except for me.  What a long weekend!  But everyone seemed to have had fun.  But hopefully there isn’t another sleep over for a while.  I don’t think I can take another one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Camp


Last weekend, Haru went to summer camp sponsored by Hanamaru, a supplemental study class that Haru attends every Friday afternoon.  This particular camp is extremely popular, and is known to have a long waiting list full of kids who want to go.  Simply signing up, and paying the fee doesn’t guarantee you a spot.  Every year, they choose a group of participants from a long list of hopefuls to be able to go to this elusive camp.  For this reason, my wife was adamant about getting Haru in.  Fortunately for Haru, she was one of the few lucky kids chosen to go.

Last spring, when Haru attended Luck Ski Camp,  I was a bit apprehensive about letting  Haru go so far away, especially to do something so potentially dangerous as skiing, but things turned out alright and Haru had a great time.  This time around, I was a bit more relaxed, but still a bit nervous because the camp itinerary included swimming in a river.  Even under normal circumstances, anything that involves water and a large group of kids is something to be concerned about.  But in addition to the added danger of what could happen, a pretty sizable typhoon was headed to Japan over the weekend.  There also had been news of kids and adults drowning in rivers due to flash flooding caused by the storm.

So as before, my overactive radar was on red alert once again, and my mind was filling up with bad thoughts of “things” that could happen.  She could drown in the river, she could get lost, the bus could go off the cliff..a whole host of tragic scenarios rushing through my head at a mile a minute.  And again, I was two seconds away from saying no to the whole trip.  Of course, this would make me look like the bad guy.  I would have effectively ruined Haru’s entire summer, just because my overactive imagination is on hyper-overdrive.  I had to learned to flush these horrible thoughts out of my head and learn to accept that Haru would have more of these events in the future, and that I can’t keep worrying about what “might” happen. Of course, this is easier said than done since an over-active mind tends to do things beyond your control.

Happily, Haru came back from camp taking away nothing but joyful memories of her three days away from home, and I think I aged just a little bit more from the whole experience.

 

 

 

 

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August…yes, again


August is finally here.  Traditionally, August has always been my least favorite month, and it still kind of is.  But this year, August has been  made to be a whole lot more bearable.    This year’s unusually long monsoon season has made the weather a bit cooler, especially in the early morning and evenings, so its been a bit more pleasant than the previous years.  But the one thing that makes this August a lot more bearable than the Augusts of the previous years is that for the first time in the nearly 20 years I have lived in Japan, I actually get a summer vacation!  Hurray!

August is usually a long (31 days), hot (average temperature 30℃), humid (humidity in the 80% range), bug infested (a billion plus cicadas everywhere) month with no national holidays to offset the misery.   But this year, since I no longer work in the financial industry like I had in my previous years, I get Obon off.  Including the weekends, I get five work free days off from the 13th-17th.

I really wanted to take Haru and the dogs out on a trip (preferably to the indoor swimming resort that we went to on Haru’s 6th birthday) but unfortunately everything is booked.  There was only one room available for $1300/ night, which is insane.  We could fly to Okinawa for the same amount of money, and probably what we would have done, except the dogs probably would not be up for it.  In her old age, Princess can’t take too much excitement; even long drives seem to be more than enough for her.  So unfortunately, there are no plans for trips this Obon season, but we are planning a slumber party for Haru and the mini Breakfast Club for later this month.  We are still in the midst of decorating Haru’s newly remodeled and expanded bedroom, which turned out really nice.  Haru refers to as her clubhouse, because of the loft bed we bought her.

Haru will also be going away for a few days again for summer camp, something that I always have mixed feelings about.  As much as I want Haru to go out and experience life outside of the house and away from us, and as much I REALLY REALLY enjoy the quiet time, something about the fact Haru being so far away in the care of people nearly half my age makes me really nervous.  I think I read way too many horror stories on the news.

Aside for the said events, August will probably turn out to be a another hot, humid, bug infested month.  We will see…

 

EDIT: Added more pictures of Haru’s completed bedroom

 

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