2009 July – September

LETTERS TO OPHELIA

These letters are for you Phi, and anyone who loves you…

“Being with you is like walking on a very clear morning… definitely the sensation of belonging there” E. B. White

Sunday, July 26th 2009IMG_1377

How’s my Princess? I’ve just come back from Australia… alone.

It was my first trip without you. So many times I almost burst into tears as images of you snuggling into my neck at Melbourne Airport came to mind. Even now, I can see you in your light blue handmade woolen jumper, exhausted after the 10 hour flight, yet so good, so calm, and patient. We exit customs and embrace Nandee & Pa. All is perfect… we’re together, seemingly forever.

This time however when I sighted Nandee & Pa, I had a lump in my throat; it didn’t feel right to be in Australia without you, my darling daughter.

Billie & Luca were there to welcome us, only their cousin didn’t arrive… Billie incessantly talked, wanting to make me feel comfortable. Luca somehow sensed I wasn’t quite right, and perhaps as a result, remained quiet. Again I almost cried, because these gorgeous kids are your cousins, they’re your family, your blood, and part of your identity.IMG_1472

Luca says he won’t play with girls, but he’ll play with Phi, ‘cause Phi’s his cousin. He misses you buddy! They were so happy to see me, and though they had been warned that Phi wasn’t coming, I sensed they were still wondering why you were not in my arms. Billie showed none of your shyness, but Luca was initially quiet. Seeing them again conjured images of you climbing into Luca’s cubby house (it’s still there) in the front yard at Northcote, chasing the chooks in the backyard and the memorable photos of the two of you hugging on the front of Cate & Sean’s car bonnet. How I wish could do that again…

I miss you… I hope we can all see you soon.

P.S. Remember reading the I Love You book together? We both loved the part that started: “I love you more than…” and then we’d complete the sentence in our own words trying to better each other??? No one can take those memories from us, nobody.IMG_1485

FAST FACTS

  • I came back from Melbourne extra early because I have to appear at the next mediation at the Family Court in Yokohama… perhaps that means we can organize a visit… let’s hope so!

 

Friday, July 31st

How’s my Ophelia Hirakawa-Morice this evening? I hope you’re enjoying an icy cold drink and a huge slice of watermelon!

Just had a chat with Pa. He’s the best Dad a boy could wish for; I’d be happy if I became even half the Dad he is to me. He’s always there for me. I should tell him more how much I love him and what a positive influence his quiet and selfless support has provided me over the years.

Pa doesn’t say much, but I feel his concern and love as a father. I know he just wants me to be happy. He helped me enjoy a grand time in Oz this past summer, despite many moments when memories of being there with you flooded my mind. At times memories of you were so vivid I had to pinch myself. I imagined you on the trampoline with your cousins, strapped in the backseat of Pa’s red car (the magna) on the way to visit family & friends, eating fish and chips, going to the beach house, etc. It was my first trip without you… and it just didn’t seem right.

We all miss you Phi… Pa & Nandee, Rich & Rach, Sean & Cate, Christo & Allie, BillSTAR & Luca…

P.S. What about a swim? I’d love to take you to the pool… but instead I’ll have to content myself with a run… just waiting for the heat and humidity of the day to subside, but it’s still too hot.

FAST FACTS

  • You’re Nandee & Pa’s first grandchild, so you’re very, very special!

 

Sunday, August 2nd

G’day Phi. Another hot day… how’s it going back at Mum’s? I hope you feel comfortable about chatting with her regarding our lovely time together… I hope she listens with a smile and is happy for you…

Guess what I did as soon as I got home this afternoon? I went out on the balcony with a glass of wine to playback the many wonderful moments we shared. The sun was lazily setting and I was hopeful of spotting the ducklings that had alluded us for the past 24 hours. Then, you’ll never guess what happened! What should be swimming by, but a mother duck and her 4 ducklings!

It was such a magic moment, I had to share it with you. So now, I’ve pulled a chair onto the balcony, opened the laptop, and I’m typing away to you.

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Following the string to your presents!

24 hours earlier we had arrived home at #303, an exciting arrival because Dad had set up a treasure hunt for you. You started at the kitchen door and followed the string high & low, in & under, around & through, and all the way on the look out for toys, books and little art & craft gifts. You just loved it, and I shot a few ripper photos to send to Nandee & Pa et al.

After the treasure hunt and a little play we ventured down to see if we could spot the infamous ducklings in the canal or harbor. Little buggers must have been taking a nap, playing cards or playing footy because we couldn’t sight them. We raced up to the video store and luckily grabbed the last DVD of Madagascar 2, home for some requested curry rice and then we jumped on the bicycle and off we road into the night to Yamashita Park. The fireworks had started and it seemed that all of Yokohama AND Tokyo were out for the big bang. We had special drinks, you a coke and me a beer, and a bag of Pa’s Australian snakes to nibble on. After about 40 minutes you started to plug your ears and whine about wanting to go home, so I threw you on my shoulders and you were the tallest person among literally millions! Home to Madagascar 2 and a few chapters of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

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Mickey Mouse pancake

Sunday morning we had planned to go to the pool so you could show me how you can now do stone, paper, scissors under water… but it was raining. Before we made pancakes we assembled a crafty bear I’d purchased in Australia for just such an occasion, a rainy day. After breaky we played with the small lego and built, you guessed it, a princess castle, with Dad as the chief engineer and builder, and you the bossy supervisor… it was great fun. Then it was time to play a Pure Cure board game that I’d given you for Christmas, but we were none the wiser as to how to play, so we sort of made up the rules as we went along, with you winning of course.

Then it was time for a dance to Fergie and Pink, and then of course Dad remembered the dress-ups, so we (largely you, as pretty much nothing fitted me) dressed up and had a boogie to Big Girls Don’t Cry.

Our last dance came around all too quickly. It was time for the bus to Sakuragicho, some late lunch at Bamiyan, and then some more Charlie on the way to meet your Mum at Ikebukuro.

Oh, I miss you already… 24 hours hardly seems fair to you, or me…

P.S. I’ll have to set aside Madagascar 2 to read to you next time.

WICKED QUOTES

  • “All the research indicates that children hunger for the love and attention of their fathers, and are deeply affected when they don’t get it.” Stahl, P M, 2001, A Review of Joint & Shared Parenting Literature

 

Wednesday, August 5th

Hello, hello! Your computer-challenged Dad has just managed to upload some pic’s of you onto my Facebook page. That was 6 hours ago and already 5 people have commented on how cute and grown-up you’ve become.

I only see you once a month… if I’m lucky… and every month you’ve grown up that little bit more. It pains me to think that I’m not around when your tooth falls out, that I can’t hold you and sooth you when you have a fever, that I can’t read you a story every night.

I love you…

P.S. I always will…

FAST FACTS

  • Sakura Sugiyama was your best friend in K3 at Katoh Kindergarten
  • Pat Cossey was Dad’s best friend at Katoh Primary School

 

Thursday, August 6th

Morning Princess!

Hiroshima Day… we’ll have to go together one day. What a tragic event. I haven’t been to Hiroshima yet, but I’ve been to Nagasaki twice. The memory that is etched into my memory is reading the visitor’s message log. I was surprised and heartened by many of the letters from American servicemen serving in Japan. So many of them hadn’t realized the true nature of the catastrophe that engulfed Nagasaki on August 9th and indeed for many years later. Many expressed a wish that they wanted it known that after seeing the consequences, they would never support such bombing again.

Tokoro de, I’ve just been flicking through some photos of happier times together. There’s a great photo of you, Nicola and me at our favorite camping spot on the river bend. How I would love to be with you there now. It’s perfect weather for the crisp cool clear water. We could hire a car, throw in the tent, sleeping mats, some good books and an esky full of yummy food.

I’m busy enough catching up with friends returning to Japan from their overseas trips, but I’d much prefer to be able to spend a few days, a week, or dare I say it… even two weeks with you. I asked at the last mediation to be granted more access, especially since it’s school holidays… but Mum still thinks one night per month is more than fair.

I feel like I’m living in limbo not being able to see you. So close in terms of kilometers, and yet so far. I came back from Australia 3 weeks early in the hope that I could see YOU! Though I’m in Japan and I feel your presence, you’re still far away. The photos of you on my walls, on the fridge and flashing at me on my screen saver conjure images of what you’re doing at this very moment. I just hope you’re happy, busy and smiling… right now.IMG_1993

Gotta go… luv you!

P.S. Don’t you worry about your Dad, he’s a big boy with the most supportive family (your family too) in the world. You never have to worry about your Dad… he’s got great friends and the best part is, he has the BEST DAUGHTER IN THE WORLD!

WICKED QUOTES

  • “It takes time, availability and repetition to make the bonding strong.” Laumann-Billings, L & Emery, R E, 2000, Distress Among Young Adults from Divorced Families      

 

Monday, August 10th 2009

G’day Phi. How’s trix? Been to the pool today?

Typhoon #09 is on its way. Just been to the video store to secure a few necessary videos, just in case, as the news suggests it’s going to be, a wet ‘n’ windy next couple of days. Would have been nice to have been holed up in here in #303 with you. We wouldn’t even need to visit the video store as we could watch any one of heaps & heaps of videos that are yours… just sitting here patiently in the cupboard waiting for you to select them. Together we could watch Black Beauty, Totoro, Spirit and a bit of Play School… at some point I probably would have nodded off on the couch… but I doubt it… each moment with you has become so precious.

I knew I was lucky to have custody of you, but it’s not until someone threatens to take something away from you, that you truly realize & appreciate what you actually have…

Tomorrow, weather permitting I’m going to visit Bonnie & Mae (Phil & Kate are still in Canada). Bon starts back at work tomorrow, so I said I’d cook her & Mae dinner… would be lovely to take you along for a play with Mae.

I’m sorry you don’t like this apartment as much as #705. I think you liked the special security beep-beep entrance at #705 more than anything. You also liked the fact that you had your own room and plenty of space for your toys. As for me, it just didn’t feel right. Too many memories, mainly good, of R, the girls and you. Added to that, I spent a miserable 3 weeks with Nandee & Pa waiting for news as to when we could see you, talk to you. It was awful… I’d come home from school, and Nandee, so keen to see you would ask me if there was any news. There was never any good news, and Nandee, my Mum, the best Mum a boy could ever wish for, drifted further & further into depression.

R and the girls moved out in December; after which my presence didn’t fill the place. I had been meaning to move for quite some time, but was unsure what direction I should take considering your Mum had filed our case in the Family Court. This place, #303, is smaller but obviously more affordable. It’s temporary, until I can work something out.

I feel my family’s support but also their desire for me to return to Australia… but I just want a chance to be close to you. I have to take that chance, that chance that everything will be okay… that your Mother will finally realize…

See you soon!

P.S. You are the most precious person in my life, you always have been, and you always will be. I love you! I’m not going anywhere.

WICKED QUOTES

  • Acceptance of prevailing standards often means we have no standards of our own (Jean Toomer)

 

Thursday, August 13th

Hey Phi, fancy another adventure to Hokkaido?

This morning as I sat and sipped my coffee, the photo of my 2 year old princess on her Dad’s shoulders caught my attention. It’s the photo of the two of us in Otaru at sunset on our last night in Hokkaido. I went and grabbed the album and the memories came flooding back…

It’s exactly 4 years since we were there. We had finished up Kinder and School and it was time for our big trip. The day before we left we went to the 100 yen shop to stock up on stickers that you loved to peel and stick to your notebook. While we were there we bought a 100 yen map of Hokkaido, in Japanese no less that would faithfully guide us on our 15 day adventure.

We left Numazu very early morning on what promised to be a hot July day. We drove over Yamanakako, onto the Chuo Expressway, and connected to the Kanetsu Expressway. After 5-6 long hours we arrived in the port city of Niigata around 11am.

You were amazingly patient in the Honda HRV, as you always are! At the counter we checked in, and the kind lady noted that the Big Orange Car (so called because you loved the Big Red Car on The Wiggles) wasn’t actually as big as I’d guessed it to be when I’d booked our passage, and refunded us about 6000 yen… what amazing service… only Japan! Needless o say, Dad was a happy-chappy.

We excitedly raced back to the car and then drove onto the enormous ferry. We drove deep into the hull of the ferry, so we had to climb many a stair to get to our sleeping area. We found a room that looked out over the Sea of Japan. The room was shared with a mum, her teenage children and their grandma. They were just lovely to us, playing with you and even loaning us towels so we could take a dip in the onsen. Just like our shared room, the onsen looked out over the blue sea.

We dumped our bags and went out on the deck to wave goodbye to Niigata. The ferry needed to be explored as it was to be our home for the next 17 hours. There were restaurants, a movie theater, a crummy kids’ playroom (but you were happy enough to make do) and a museum type area. Fortunately we spent a lot of time running around on the deck feeling the wind in our faces, singing songs as loud as we could and shouting happily at the sea. Later the ship’s stewards locked the outside doors.

Dinner followed by ice cream and melon at one of the restaurants, a few books and then we tried to sleep. You seemed to settle quite quickly to the gentle rocking of the ferry. At about 3.30am, just before the ferry docked in Otaru, I took a chance to leave you alone for a moment and raced to the bathroom to brush my teeth. When I returned after only 3 or 4 minutes you had woken and unsure of your surroundings were howling your head off. The mother and her daughter were trying their best to comfort you, but all you wanted was “Daddy!” To think of that moment now brings a big smile to my face… the thought of comforting you and hugging you, wiping your tears, soothing your sobs would be such a joy.

We packed our gear and descended the stairs to the waiting Big Orange Car. As we left the ferry the lights of Otaru were still visible. It was about 4.30am, and in the twilight I immediately warmed to Hokkaido. Nothing seemed to be open, not even convenience stores, so we drove along the foreshore. You didn’t even seem to doze, instead you quietly took it all in. There were quaint little cobble stoned roads, arched bridges, micro breweries, antique looking roadside lights and most romantic of all, many of the houses had chimneys.

Typical of your Dad and his 100 yen map, he’d only booked the first night by Lake Shikotsu, and the last night in Otaru. We were in no hurry, the Big Orange Car would take us to places of interest… we had a tent, so I figured we could stock up on yummy food and just camp where ever we found a good spot. The road took us west along the coast, then south and up into the skiing area of Niseko (a little disappointing in summer), before we arrived at the lake.

We were too early to check in, so we went into the village and noted a Visitors’ Center and not much more. We drove the 20 minutes to Chitose and had breaky at that Scottish restaurant, McDonald’s. Hokkaido was waking up, so it was time for us to check in. The kind people at the front desk informed us of an impending typhoon. Sure enough, it started raining, so within the hour we had extended our stay to 3 nights. Fortunately you loved the Visitors’ Center and all its touchy feely exhibits. I’m not sure we even had an umbrella, so no doubt we got drowned running to and from the car. After lunch, dad needed a nap, but you were keener on catching a bit of NHK’s kids’ programs. After an onsen, a grand meal and a kids’ craft program where you made a boomerang down in the lobby, our first day in Hokkaido drew to a close.

After a great breakfast, the typhoon’s rain was still bucketing down. With not too many options we drove down to see what Chitose had to offer. Fortunately we found an outlet mall with an indoor play area. I met an Aussie chap with a lad about your age, so we watched you two parallel play for a couple of hours. You had been so good, considering we couldn’t run around outside that we splurged and bought you a big box of lego. It was to bring us many hours of joy.

I was also toilet training you, and so far so good… but when you had to go, you had to go FAST! No nappies, which had to feel nice especially with the heat of summer. We had some funny moments where we had to stop on the side of the road for you to do a number 1… number 2s usually had a habit of being during or just after our hot bath in the evening.

By our third day the sun had started to show, so we took a few happy snaps around the lake, had a paddle in a swan paddle boat, patted the bear at the Visitors’ Center again, and found a few parks where the swings and slides weren’t too wet.

On the fourth morning we drove east, then turned north to the area of Furano. It’s an area famous for the filming of a long running Japanese drama called Kita no Kuni. Your Mum loved it, and I had seen enough of it to be quite fond of it. Along the way you spotted a deer just grazing by the side of the road. Your face was of complete surprise, and you were so proud that you had spied Bambi first.

In the days to come we met many friendly groups of people who took to you instantly. We bought loads of melons by the side of the road, some as cheap as 200 yen and enjoyed them pretty much each afternoon. We camped beside lakes, watched amazing fireworks, went to Goro San’s (Kita no Kuni) gomi no ie, the Anpan Man Museum (where you became so excited you wet your undies), marveled at the monkey exhibit at the Asahikawa Zoo, the Saporro Beer Factory, the lavender fields of Furano, laughed and played at loads of decent roadside parks… before once again boarding the ferry from Otaru to Niigata.

I love you Phi… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • You’re amazing!
  • Lake Shikotsu is the deepest lake in the Japan; Lake Baikal (Russia) is the deepest in the world

 

Thursday, August 20th 2009

Howdy Cowdy! How’s trix? At last I heard your voice tonight. It’s been 10 days since I’ve been able to chat with you. You chattered away for 8 whole minutes filling me in on your new sister Sara. It was magical to hear your voice, the excitement, the pride, and the mature “onesan” manner in which you described your baby sister. In a very adult like voice you joyfully informed me of Sara’s sleeping habits, how small she was compared to you as a newborn, and how she oddly doesn’t like her milk.

It was wonderful to finally hear my princess’s voice. I’m very happy for you, and know you’ll be the most loving, gentle, patient and caring of big sisters…

I love you and are so, very, very proud of you!

P.S. Take good care of your sister, and give your Mum a helping hand… I know you will.

FAST FACTS

  • Sonia Rawnsley (Australian) and Akiko Sensei were your teachers in K1
  • Together with Allan Hamer, we used to slink into the mountains behind Numz, or along the foreshore in search of our Chrissy trees each year. Allan was such a wussy; he stood look-out panicking we’d be arrested, while Dad did the cutting and hauling to the back of the station wagon

 

Monday, August 24th

Konban wa Ophelia San,

IMG_1266

Another gift discovered along the string!

I had another lovely day at school today. I’m into my third day with my new grade 4 class. There are 11 girls and 10 boys. I have new students from Saudi Arabia, Korea, the UK and Japan. So far they seem a beautiful group of children. Today we had a double art session. The students drew a large portrait of themselves, then we watched a video on Picasso and his cubist style. The students had great fun cutting their portraits into jigsaw pieces before rearranging the pieces with wonderful results.

At lunch recess I supervised the grade 1 & 2 students in their special playground. I couldn’t help but think that you were supposed to be there playing with children from the Philippines, India, America, France, Spain, China, Korea, the Middle East, South America, Japan, etc. I pictured you racing past me with your new friends giving me one of your adorable smiles.

So many nationalities, so many cultures, and yet so many smiles, and everyone communicating and laughing through English. Your bilingualism is a gift, a gift I pray your Mother cherishes for you.

It was a joy to watch so many different children, from so many different cultures run and laugh, skip and sing, swing and chatter.

Love Dad… XoXo…

P.S. I hope you enjoy your surrounds when you return to your new Japanese school later in the month.

FAST FACTS

  • Stephanie (Canadian) and Aya Sensei were your teachers in K3
  • “There is growing evidence that overnight stays with important carers form a meaningful basis for parent-child relations from an early age.” Pruett, M K, Ebling, R & Isabella, G, 2004, Critical Aspects of Parenting Plans for Young Children

 

Saturday, August 29th 2009

Morning kiddo… Nandee used to say that to Sean, Richie & myself. She misses you so much! There are two letters here for you on the table from your adorable Aussie grandmother. She adores you Phi…

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Nandee & Aunty Rach

I’m worried about our Nandee. She’s not coping at all with what’s happening. One of her correspondences to you is a postcard that is actually a photo of Nandee & Pa’s garden as it heads into Spring. Spring… new life, changes blossoming, warmth and spirit fills the cold Earth after the long winter. I hope Nandee has faith that Spring brings hope, hope for us all.

For you and I however, some 9500 kms from Melbourne in the Northern Hemisphere, we head into Autumn. Browns, yellows, and Dad’s favourite orange abound. I love Autumn after the intense heat and humidity of the summer, and its draining intensity… and of course it’s somebody’s birthday… someone very, very special! I can’t believe you are going to be 7 on October 15th! Mmm… tomorrow I might have to do a little shopping for my soon to be 7 year old!

I wonder if yesterday was your first day back in grade 1 after the summer vacation. When I spoke to you on Wednesday night you weren’t sure when you started back. This morning I’m heading into Akasaka to have a gander at a bicycle store that apparently stocks large size bicycles. Your Dad has a hard time finding things in his size, although in recent years Zara and FCUK stock shirts and sometimes trousers/jeans to fit the long, long Daddy-long legs of your Dad. I guess by the time you’re a super model with legs longer than Malmon’s (the giraffe from Madagascar), Tokyo will have sizes to suit you.

Jya ne!

P.S. Wish me luck! I hope I’m riding a snazzy orange 2-wheeler by this arvo.

GRAND LYRICS

“I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now,

And all the roads we have to walk along are winding

And all the lights that lead us there are blinding

There are many things that I would like to say to you”

(Oasis, Wonderwall).

 

Monday, August 31st

Hey Possum, how are you on this wet, wet, wet Monday? Typhoon #11 is blowing a gale, but a man has got to eat; so Dad on his OLD bicycle (note OLD, as in I didn’t buy a bicycle on Saturday) weathered the storm in his orange crocs, purple shorts and orange gortex jacket. I guess your Dad looks like a bit of a BAKA! Looking like some sort of crazy rain-man, I dropped into the supermarket, waltzed around dripping wet picking up some fish and veggies for tonight’s dinner. Almost came a cropper slip sliding around on the smooth surface of the supermarket floor… those crocs should be illegal!

So, now I’ve dried off, and just thought to myself: Do you wanna come for dinner? We’ll have a lettuce, red capsicum, red onion and tomato salad with an Italian dressing; perhaps some crutons fried in oregano and fresh parsley, and some well-done bits of bacon. For the main course I’m going to gently fry some white fish (don’t know what it’s called… it’s in NIHONGO, but it looks fresh and yummy) in corn flour, accompanied by one of your favorites, Dad’s mashed potato with lashings of butter and some corn on the cob, also with butter… AND because you’re always so good, there’s a lemonade in the fridge just waiting for you… I think I’ll have a wine.

Memories… We had our share of rainy days together when you were at Ooka Kinder and Katoh Kinder. We had to ride the bicycle every day to Ooka Kinder because Dad didn’t have a car park at school. So we would dress you in your pink raincoat and you’d sit in your seat on the back of Dad’s bike to and from kinder. You were incredible, you never ever complained about the rain, you actually seemed to enjoy it. You rarely complained about anything… you’re such a stoic trooper!

For the first couple of weeks at Ooka Kinder you would cry when I left you at kinder… on my way to school, I’d cry and cry… I’m crying now! Sometimes I’d still be crying at the photocopier in the staff room. I would reluctantly pass you over to one of the lovely kinder teachers, your eyes would get teary and your arms would reach for me. I’d smile, determined to keep my smile until I closed the gate of the kinder after me. I’d make funny faces & give you a tickle, even though my heart was aching at the thought of leaving you… sometimes you’d fall for my silly antics and give me a grin, but most of those mornings early on in the piece, all you wanted was to be back in Dad’s arms. Fortunately when I picked you up in the afternoon all would be well. You would be laughing with Nanami or one of your other friends, playing a game, drawing a picture, listening quietly as the teacher told you all a story. Sometimes I’d arrive a little early and you would want to stay a little longer to finish your snack before we jumped on the bicycle and pedaled home.IMG_1500

When you started at Katoh it took me a while to find a baby-sitter, so on rainy days we’d sometimes park the car at Pat’s, so we wouldn’t get too wet, but other days, I’d pack your snow gear (your red pants, gloves, beanie and of course your pink raincoat), especially if it was winter, and we’d ride home laughing and singing… “Rain, rain, go away, come back another day!” We would make up our own words and usually end by telling the rain to go to Australia because Nandee was always complaining how dry her garden was. Before Elaine introduced me to Toyomi (your baby-sitter), I made 350 bilingual leaflets advertising for a baby-sitter (paid) and delivered them door-to-door in our area. Nobody ever called to offer their assistance, so we went for a while without a sitter in the morning.

Oh, no… look at the time, I better get cooking… you’ll go hungry otherwise… Did I tell you I love you more than anything!?!?

P.S. I just telephoned you… for the first time in a week I was able to talk to you; I’ve been trying every day at the time your Mother says I’m to call, if I wish to talk to you, 6pm. We talked for 7 minutes and 19 seconds… you start school tomorrow… I wish I could take you to school and give you a BIG hug at the gate! Enjoy your first day back, it’s only a half day kiddo… you’ll be great! XoXo… Kid, you’ll move mountains!

WICKED QUOTES

  • Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal (Henry Ford)

 

Saturday, September 12th

G’day Phi. Today I was at school at 6.30am, not that unusual, except that today is a Saturday. I’ve been assisting with the coaching of the grade 6 to year 12 x-country team. It’s the biggest club in the school with almost 50 members. There are 4 of us coaches, Rich (USA), Craig (Canadian) & Nathalie (French), and we just love it! Today was our first race. I was almost as excited as the kids.

Many a time I thought of you because I couldn’t help but think if you had have accompanied me today, you would have fitted in just fine. The kids at this school are just so beautiful in a caring and friendly manner. In my class alone I have at least 5 kids just like you, with just one parent Japanese. They are “doubles” as I call them, because they have two passports, a Japanese one, and another one. Anyway, the high school girls in our x-country squad would have just loved to fuss over you today. We could have cheered the runners on together. They ran so hard… I was so proud of them!IMG_1507

Our school and most of the other international schools in Tokyo and Yokohama go to the Tama American Military Recreation Base for most of our races. It’s a whole new world, with security checks and schools from other US bases also competing. The base is enormous, which makes me wonder why the Japanese people put up with the US military monopolizing prime real estate. What do you think?

I guess the main reason I am keen for you to attend an international school is so that you become comfortable with your own identity. Next weekend, one of our graduates Marcie Lise, is sharing an exhibition about individuals who share two passports. She has called it THE HAFU JAPANESE PROJECT. I think it should be titled: DOUBLES, but it’s not my show. Marci writes: “The Hafu/Half Japanese exhibition helps to highlight the variety within one specific group, and also reminds us how people of mixed heritage are organizing themselves along their own lines, and mobilizing to seek wider recognition in the mainstream.” Her website is www.hafujapanese.org

Another reason I am strongly in favour of you attending an international school over a Japanese school is their flexibility when it comes to clubs and sport. Instead of being a member of just one sports club and treating things so seriously for a whole year (weekends included), clubs at international schools are seasonal, which means you could run x-country, then play in the girls’ soccer team, then join the volleyball team and finally do athletics, all in the same year. At the same time you could also be a member of the student council, French or Spanish clubs, art, band, choir, chess, computers, yearbook, dance, drama, and many other clubs. It’s an amazing array of choices that gives students the freedom to try so many options.IMG_1520

Anyway, time to jump on my new Fuji road bike and ride down to the Yokohama Mitsui Outlets… Dad needs a new pair of running shoes! Wanna come?

Love Dad… XoXo…

P.S. Wish you were in the classroom down the corridor!

GRAND LYRICS

  • “I need your grace

To remind me

To find my own”

(Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars)

 

Monday, September 21st 2009IMG_1381

Today’s a public holiday for you, but Dad had school as usual. I didn’t mind as I had a spring in my step as I rode to school this morning. Thank you for sharing the weekend with me! It was just grand! Saturday, I picked you up at 10am and we went straight to Enoshima. We had a tasty lunch at a ritzy Italian restaurant and then we braved the crowds at the aquarium. You took a million photos on our digital camera of the many colourful fish, dolphins, seals, jellyfish & us! Your biggest smile was when I asked you if you wanted to climb up high on giant Dad’s shoulders for the dolphin show. What a show!IMG_1394

IMG_1495

Phi & Toby

But after a while, there were just too many people due to the long weekend, so we jumped in a taxi and headed for Tsujido. My teaching partner David, his wife, Yoko, and son, Luka reside there. We met them on the beach and galloped like horses, screamed for more wizzy-dizzes, and buried you and your new friend, Toby (David’s nephew) in the sand. After a quick shower at David’s we all went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Again you made me proud, eating all your curry rice and salad, and you were just lovely with the 5 younger children… a genuine onesan! After dinner you were reluctant to part with the handsome Toby, but we went back to Yokohama and played with the duplo lego before 3 stories and some shut-eye.

In the morning we went shopping and loaded up for lunch. We made a bento and after some dress-ups, we rode down to the Yamashita Park area. We picnicked on the huge pier, but one of those huge sea hawks swooped down and boldly snagged Dad’s chicken sandwich. We were both speechless… cheeky bugger! Following lunch we went to the Immigration Museum, enjoying a special drink and the view from the balcony. On our way home we dropped into the new park nearby the Red Brick Building and pasted a few colour squares onto these huge cardboard boats that will apparently be floated in the harbour one day soon.IMG_1487

Before we knew it, it was time for the trek back to Tokorozawa. We gulped down some ramen before boarding at Motomachi-Chukagai Station. We read a few short stories, then listened to Big Girls Don’t Cry and a few numbers from Pink over and over again. When we arrived at Tokorozawa you gave me a long firm hug that made me feel a million dollars and the luckiest Dad in the world!

Thank you! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!

FAST FACTS

  • Your crazy Uncle Sean took me on my first “climb” out of The Grampians. It was a 110 metre climb… straight up! Can’t wait to show you the photos again soon…

    IMG_1494

    Phi & Luka

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