LETTERS TO OPHELIA
These letters are for you Phi, and anyone who loves you…
“The highest law is conscience” Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
G’day stranger! We’ve just chatted for 9 minutes and 47 seconds… I think that’s our record. You had loads to tell me because yesterday you went to Disney Land. I think it was a public holiday for all those living or being schooled in Tokyo. It was lovely to hear the joy in your voice, despite the fact that it rained pretty much all day. Your favorite ride was the Buzz Light Year ride, and the quite new Winnie the Pooh ride.
We talked about possible plans for your birthday, and we both agreed we’d visit Build A Bear in Sakuragicho as a special treat… I can’t wait. I hope I get to see you again soon… mediation in the Family Court Monday. Wish us luck! It would be nice to see you more than once every 4 or 5 weeks!!!!
P.S. We’re doing poetry at school. Here’s a ripper I love to read with the children:
If you have a dream, that won’t go away
That gnaws at your toes, with each waking day
That sings beneath notes, and swirls between stars
From lines in great books, it thrashes & snarls
From cinema screens, it leaps along light
And twists your insides, and stalks you at night
Then give it attention, tame that wild dream
It’s there for a reason, yet to be seen
A beast of the future, only you own
Don’t let it escape, into the unknown
Train it with care, and boost its esteem
Spotlight it brightly, so it can be seen
Or dreams can turn nasty, tire & groan
Diminishing creatures, if left all alone
The beast never dies, just shrinks and goes cold
A lone, solemn dream, growing weary & old
So feed it with strength, believe that it’s real
Nurture with love, and trust how it feels
Fight the dream-bruisers, with batterers too
And splatters of hope, who’ll be waiting for you
Feel the roar rumble, hear every shout
It’s your beast of a dream, just dying to get out (Mark C Bird)
- Your Uncle Sean ran as a candidate for the Greens in the Carringbush Ward (Melbourne); he came third!
Monday, October 5th
Hey Phi. A little depressed after this afternoon’s mediation in the Yokohama Family Court. We began at 1.15pm and finished up after 4.30pm. We presented a visitation contract that would enable us to meet for 6 days over the winter holidays, 2 days over the spring break, 9 days over the summer break (21 days every other year, so we could visit Australia together), and one over night stay a month. It didn’t go so smoothly. Your mother, via the panel informed me that school comes first. Even during your summer vacation, it seems the school’s swimming days take precedent over our Australian family. Needless to say, mediation didn’t go well, with all visits for October postponed due to school commitments.
I’m so, so sorry buddy… I love you! And after a punishing run, I’ll rise again! XoXo…
P.S. I’ll keep trying to be a part of your life… unless YOU tell me otherwise.
- When we were kids we had all sorts of fun making & riding our own billy-carts. We used pram wheels, scooter wheels, bits of wood, old school chairs as seats, all sorts of recycled materials. For hours on end we’d race down hills… looking forward to showing you some pic’s
Tuesday, October 13th
Salutations Princess! Do you remember where that’s from? We read Charlotte’s Web together, and when Charlotte the spider first meets Wilbur the pig, she says, “Salutations!”
Today I discovered a group called: The Children’s Rights Council of Japan. They have a webpage, www.crcjapan.com I wonder if they are still prominent as you read this years later. When you open their homepage, it says: THE BEST PARENT IS BOTH PARENTS! Not bad hey! I just wish A…a would agree. They have a good many articles and also a list of 10 proposals for Japan to adopt. At this stage Japan is the only G7 nation that has refused to sign the 1980 Hague Convention agreement that recognizes international child custody decisions. Despite the fact that I actually still officially have custody of you under Japanese law, I’m powerless to even enact a visitation… such is life princess! I need a scotch! Sleep tight!
I love you more than ever… more than yesterday… more than last year… XoXo…
- A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world (John Le Carre)
Monday, October 26th
G’day beautiful! I’m in a wine bar alone in Shibuya after seeing Kyoko (lawyer) this afternoon. It’s 5.56pm and I’ve just been out in the rain to try and call your Mother’s mobile, but as usual, just as has been the case the past four evenings, no answer… such is life. I miss your voice, but I’ve got my laptop so I can still write to you. The wine is truly great and reasonably priced. I’m drinking a Chandon Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley, a winery ironically A…a and I have been to several times… together. I sincerely hope you and I can share a glass or two here some day, and several glasses in the Yarra Valley. They have amazing fish & chips here too.
This week we’re on our Autumn break. I was on my way to the Tokyo Motor Show when I got terribly lost. Actually, I missed my norikae station as I was typing a story for my grade 4 class and went way past. By the time I realized, it would have taken me so long to actually get to the Motor Show that I decided to head straight to my next lawyer appointment, with Kyoko. After the rejection of our visitation contract at the last mediation meeting, I wasn’t very excited about today’s news. There was a letter apparently from your Mother, via Murakami San, referring to me as Morice San. It was very formal and stated that your commitment at school will take precedence over meeting Dad, and his family, over the course of the year, and especially the summer break.
Your Mother also indicated that if you didn’t want to see me, then visitation would cease. I’ve been dreading this, and trying to prepare myself for such a happening. The readings I’ve been researching cover such occurrences in some detail. I said to Kyoko, that such thinking is natural for a child to consciously or unconsciously think, because the child is only trying to please the parent they’re with at the time. I’ll never, ever hold this against you if this eventuates. Anyway, I had another cry in front of my lawyer (she must be use to it by now), and decided I have nothing to lose. It’s hard enough to see you once a month at the moment, and with the likelihood of the visitation contract being so watered done, in real terms, it’s useless as a tool that enables us to see each other. So, I have decided I might as well fight for the right to see you in court.
And guess what? It’s stopped raining… I will never, ever give up on you… I will always love you.
“Think I can make it now
Now the pain has gone
I can see clearly now the rain has gone
It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day”
(Hothouse Flowers, I Can See Clearly).
Sunday, November 1st
Hey buddy, I’ve just dropped you off at Ikebukuro Station at 5pm. I’ve just managed to get a seat at Shibuya, so thought I’d add to our journal. Picked you up yesterday at 1pm, and you took me to your favorite restaurant in the Metropolitan Building. I had some oysters and we shared a hamburg dish with a large roast potato and bread, you even had enough room for dessert; and I have a sneaking suspicion that you had lunch with mum before we met. After lunch we went to Harajuku, which I thought might be kind of special seeing as it was Halloween. We wandered down the very crowded main drag and then cut back to the park beside Meiji Shrine. You opened a couple of presents and then we played chasy and had a few wizzy-dizzes.
Then it was time to make our way to the National Stadium for the Bledislo Cup between Australia (The Wallabies) and New Zealand (The All Blacks). Pat, Ms. Sonia Rawnsley (your K1 kinder teacher), Scott (Leila’s Dad) and Karen (a new teacher from Katoh) were already there. I was very happy as you were quite excited about the whole thing. It was a sellout and the crowd got a Mexican Wave going. Australia looked to be holding their own in the first half, and you were cheering and adding your unique applause, “Eat the Kiwis!”
After half time, NZ ran away with the game and we bolted just before the final siren blew. We beat the rugby crowd and the baseball crowd back to the station. On the way back from Shibuya we listened to Fergie and Girlfriend numerous times on the i-Pod. We grabbed a few essentials at the supermarket and then raced home for more birthday presents. Nandee & Pa had sent you a homemade possum scarf and I’d lugged back a large horse with a Barbie size princess. They were your choice presents. Uncle Jeff had also given you a very cool badge and fridge magnet making set that we mixed (plaster) up this morning, then painted… great fun. Nandee had also sent a ballerina poster, a very cool cloth bag with kangaroos, koalas and even a handmade spider on it, Pat had given you a bag of Halloween goodies and a soft toy puppet, while Rich and Rach had sent you a cloth bag too. Dad gave you heaps of books that have CDs with them, so I packed them in your backpack and told your Mother about them.
This morning we had breaky together and played with your presents, then after a quick shower and our fridge magnet making we jumped on the bike and rode into Sakuragicho. Our first stop was Build a Bear and you chose a white lion with black stripes… I think it’s a tiger, but I didn’t tell you! I had been wanting to take you for some time, but apparently A…a had beaten me to it (you said you’d been in Hawaii!!!). I loved the process you went through and enjoyed the banter with the shop assistants who were unusually chunky and cuddly themselves. So, your tiger, I mean lion, weighs in at 312 grams, is 41cm long, has blue eyes and her name is Whitey. After pumping Whitey full of fluff, and then some more, brushing her down, and kitting her out in a new top, a skirt, and of course a gal can’t do without a new pair of shoes, we just had time for a quick ride on the kids’ rollercoaster.
Then we rode home for some chili con carne, a banana-blueberry smoothie and a peanut-butter rolly-polly. I’m afraid we’d run out of time, and before we knew it, it was time to catch the 4.04pm for Shibuya.
It was so wonderful to be with you, to spend time with you, to see you breathing and smiling opposite me… I miss you Bella!
Love, love, love… Dad.
- The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books (Katherine Mansfield)… what do you fancy reading with Dad tonight? Perhaps a little Roald Dahl?
Wednesday, November 4th 2009
How was school today buddy? I wanted to ask how Whitey was tonight, but you must have been too busy watching Dora and learning Spanish, I hope!
I had another look at a group called The Japan’s Children’s Rights Network. Their webpage is almost the same as a different organization I recently wrote to you about, it’s: www.crnjapan.net For a moment I thought they had given me an idea: Perhaps I should put all these letters up on the internet and then some day you’ll come across them by accident, but I’m quite uncomfortable about other people reading my mind. Besides, this is just about the two of us! Here’s their mission statement: Our Mission is to disseminate information to help change attitudes and laws in Japan in order to assure all children of direct, meaningful and continuing contact with both parents, regardless of citizenship, marital status or gender. We want to restore the rights of children in Japan with separated parents, such as in divorce, international parental abduction to Japan, parental kidnapping within Japan and birth out of wedlock.
Anyway, I had a read, and thought I’d share it with you. Love you!!!! XoXo…
- Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon (E.M Forster)
Tuesday, November 10th 2009
Hey Princess. I hope you’re tucking into a yummy dinner, curry rice, chili con carne, or pizza. It’s 6.10pm and I just tried to call, but yet again no answer. Anyway, I had another great day at school. The kids were fantastic, working diligently on their new Earthquake Poster Project, getting the hang of long division, and writing some truly interesting Book Reviews. I hope your teacher is equally proud of you!
Yesterday was a momentous day for me, and unbeknown to you, a big day for you in terms of your horizon. After the Visitation Contract that we presented to your Mother was rejected at the last mediation, I felt for a while there that I had nothing to lose, so I might as well take our case beyond mediation and into the Family Law Court. As you’re now aware, at the last mediation she rejected our proposal and stated that school will take precedence over us seeing each other. I talked with Nandee about it, but these days I’m afraid to say, Nandee is seeking professional help, because she’s not dealing with our situation very well.
Ophi, my eyes are stinging with tears as I write this. I know I’m probably not making much sense. A…a is hurting so many more people than just you and me.
Uncle Rich has been solid. He always is. He’s like Pa, very level-headed, even when I’m pulling my hair out. After talking with Uncle Rich, and consulting with Kyoko (our lawyer), I decided to continue with mediation and to push the Visitation Contract.
At the last mediation, A…a basically agreed to one over night stay per month, plus another day visit (even though those terms are not being met at present, which keeps me awake at night wondering if she’ll ever keep her word). The key for you and me is our visits to Australia, to see Nandee & Pa, Rich & family, Sean & family. You haven’t been to Oz for nearly two and a half years, and as every day passes, those beautiful memories will become dimmer and dimmer. I’d dearly love to take you today, tomorrow, or I guess I can wait until next summer (2010), but it seems A…a will use the school’s summer commitments (swimming program – we can swim in Oz with your cousins!) to prevent you from going. My concern is that she’ll use the school as a convenient excuse for you never to visit your family in Oz, all the while your priceless attachment to your cousins, the bond you share with Nandee, the secret snack trips you take with Pa, the laughter you share with your uncles will fade.
So, good or bad, we’re not going to court where you’ll have to speak. I couldn’t bear the thought of court officials asking my beautiful innocent, pure Ophelia questions. The thought of A…a coaching you to say what’s on her mind is too much.
I don’t know how to say this… but you recently told me that sometimes Mum is scary… she throws things… causing… you used the word kizu. I hope you don’t remember much about this. I haven’t told my lawyer, Kyoko, or the mediation panel this, because, well, I believe it’s wrong to share such stuff openly, which, I guess is hypocritical of me, because perhaps I’ll have to post these letters on a blog someday, to ensure there’s a chance you’ll read them. But how do I do that, and at the same time prevent other people from reading??? I can’t post them to you, you’ll never receive them… umm… I hope I’ve been cryptic enough… and only you & I understand.
Besides, if I did bring up the above incident in court, your Mother would would only deny it, and probably scold you for telling Dad such things. I don’t want court officials investigating you and pressuring you into accusing your Mother of anything. I know you love your Mother. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s only natural for you to protect your Mother… I just wish A…a had your maturity and compassion. Sweet dreams kiddo! Love & licks, Dad… XoXo…
- Is it better to have an open enemy than a false friend?
Wednesday, November 11th 2009
G’day buddy. I just tried to call you, twice, but yet again no answer. I daren’t call again for I have a suspicion I could be labeled a nuisance. The mediation panel specified that calls should be made at 6pm, up to 3 times per week. I call most days, but only get through to you about once a week, sometimes twice. I’ve spoken to you once since last seeing your bubbly smile on November 1st. I would love to call you at other times, because I so often think of you, and nearly always have something to share with you.
When you lived with me and there was a message on the answering machine from Azusa, I often helped you with the numbers and we’d dial her together. We even called Nori Baba occasionally. I remember once when we called Baba on Mother’s Day to wish her a happy day.
I’m worried you’ll become so indoctrinated against me that you will succumb to something called Parent Child Alienation Syndrome. I’ve been reading lots of books and many articles on the WWW, this syndrome is quite common in situations like our own. Apparently the child develops an irrational fear of the other parent, but as your memory is so wonderful, and there are loads of photos with you as a happy child in my presence, I’m hoping that as you mature you’ll recognize the love I have for you. Have I told you lately how much I love you? XoXo…
- “Children pick up on continuing parental conflict and it can have seriously damaging consequences for them…” Amato, P R & Gilbtreth J G, 1999, Non-resident Fathers and Children’s Well-being
Saturday, November 14th 2009
Good morning to the sun
Good morning to the sky
Good morning to the flowers and the grass
Good morning to the trees
Good morning to the mountains
Good morning to Ophi and Daddy!
Remember that one? It’s 6.10am, and I can’t sleep. Must be getting old. I went to bed last night thinking of our evening routine of yesteryear of bath, 3 books, some songs and then a made-up story usually about princesses and horses. I woke this morning and immediately thought of our morning routine. So while the coffee boils, here’s some memories buddy:
I used to sing the above song to you every morning… remember? I would get up just after 6am, shower and shave and then start singing songs, mainly my kit bag of songs, but plenty of nursery rhymes too. If it were a Tuesday or a Thursday, I would be making your bento. I loved putting in your favorites into your Kitty Chan bento box. A little slice of camembert cheese, a congac jelly, a dried apricot, a peanut butter sandwich, a piece of salmon, a rice ball, etc. Occasionally I’d fill your drink bottle with peach or lemon tea, but most days you were content with water. I always worried, ‘cause you rarely drank much at all, but you always ate your bento and you made me the proudest Dad in the world by telling me, “Daddy’s bento is best!” Oh, I love you!
I would drift up the stairs singing, “Good morning to the sun…” pull your light blue blinds and give you a kiss and ruffle your hair. You’d give me a groan for a greeting and roll over. Sometimes you’d pretend you were still asleep, only to suddenly pop your head out from under the covers and shout SURPRISE! I’d go into my room still blasting out songs to tie my tie and then return to scoop you in my arms and transport you downstairs to dump you in your gray beanbag. Humprey B Bear or Play School would be playing on the TV. I would continue getting breakfast ready, set out your kinder uniform, pack your bag, and you’d gradually wake up and we’d start to chat about Masako, or Gracie, or Helen and Sophie, being the touban (class leader for the day), etc.
Then it was time for breakfast. The TV went off, except for the weekend, and we’d continue our chat. There’s a beautiful photo on my wall of you in your princess PJs, bowl of cereal before you and your balloon faced arty-crafty figure from kinder beside you. You have the most gorgeous smile and for me, the memories flood back. Those mornings were such a special time for me. As you got older (K1 – K2) you’d dress yourself, then we’d brush your hair and teeth, then you were allowed to continue watching Play School. Usually within minutes we’d see Toyomi backing down the road, and the Dad had to reluctantly head to school.
Oh, what memories… what I’d give for one more chance at those mornings… I love you… XoXo…
- Is a secret too little for one, enough for two, but too much for three?
Saturday, November 21st 2009
Morning sleepy-head! It’s 6.56am and I’m already on the train bound for Naka Meguro. I wonder if you’re at school today. I’m heading to a teacher conference on mathematics at Bonnie’s school, Nishimachi.
Yesterday was my second International Day at St. Maur, and what a day it was! Most of the mums, and one of the dads came and devoted most of the school day to various international activities. It’s days like these that my heart particularly reaches out to you, knowing that at your school it’s just not possible with so few international families to provide such experiences. The day began with the elementary school children parading around the school in their international costumes. All the kids were dressed up! I didn’t see one kid in school uniform, in fact most of the high school kids joined the fun too, teachers also. I painted my grubby art smock with the names of about 50 countries; it took me ages… then I grabbed a large globe of the world and called myself: a man of the world! Then it was back to the classroom to organize the kids into groups for moving around 5 centers. At each center there were about 8 kids and different activities to do. Some students made Chinese dumplings with Steph’s mum & dad who own a big, swanky restaurant in Chinatown. At the next station some American mothers read stories from Hawaii, then the children moved to another station and made some sort of Hawaii connection to hibiscus flowers with tissues. These flowers were then turned into an Hawaii head piece. At a different station, two of the mums had put together a very educational Powerpoint presentation about Australia! You would have loved the quiz at the end of their presentation. At the final station, there were loads of mums teaching the kids one on one how to say and write: I love you, yes/no, & thank you in Arabic, Korean, South African and Portuguese.
After the morning’s centers we had a pot luck lunch… YUMMO! We ate the dumplings that we had made, and there were samosas, curries, sandwiches, noodles, meatballs, yummy dips, cakes, pies, salads, meats… foods from every corner of the world. After stuffing ourselves with glorious food, the kids had a play and we tidied up readying the classrooms for the afternoon’s special activities. First up a mother from India and another from Bangladesh did a Powerpoint presentation on the Divali Festival. It’s an amazing New Year celebration held in late October, early November. The festival runs for 5 days with extravagant food, fireworks and dancing. Finally, one of the mums did a hula presentation and encouraged us all to join in. It was a magic day princess… I wish you could have shared in the giving. Just about to change at Naka Meguro… see ya! Thank YOU for being the best daughter a Dad could wish for! XoXo…
- “Litigation exacerbates conflict between parents and increases pressure on children.” Zaidel, S, 2004, Taking Divorce Out of the Context of Dispute Resolution
Friday, November 27th 2009
I couldn’t write to you yesterday Princess. It was all just a little bit too painful. Yesterday I relinquished custody to your Mother. In exchange the judge read out a visitation contract that Kyoko and I had been working on. The contract means I cannot be blocked from being a part of your life, and A finally agreed to it.
It states that we’ll see each other twice per month. Once for a few hours, and the second for an over night visit. In Spring we’ll see each other for 2 nights & 3 days, Summer 7 nights & 8 days, and Winter 4 nights & 5 days. There’s a clause that states that before you are in 5th grade, we’ll be permitted to share 2 weeks for a summer holiday to Melbourne. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.
Also in the contract, A…a agreed to communicating with me, rather than through lawyers.
She also agreed to show me copies of your school reports, inform me of parent – teacher interviews and to keep me updated with the calendar at your school.
It’s a bit hard to write positively; I think I’m still in shock, I feel a shell of a man, but hopefully when I see you tomorrow, I’ll be your GENKI Dad! A run and some push-ups will do me some good… instill some fighting spirit in your old man.
Good night buddy. Sleep well… XoXo… bite those bed bugs back!
- Essentially one must belong… and you do. You’ll always be a Morice, you’ll always be accepted for who you truly are, and we’ll always be waiting to embrace you… XoXo…
Sunday, November 29th 2009
Howdy Cowdy! Well, we’ve just had a ripper weekend! I picked you up at 4.30pm yesterday and we took the train to Sakuragicho. Along the way we listened to Kym Lardner’s funny stories. Did you laugh!!!! At first I didn’t have a seat, but you’d slipped through a gap like an eel and had found a seat. I gave you the i-pod and you giggled your head off. You didn’t seem to care or realize that you were giggling so loud. I’m sure most people thought you were very cute. After about 10 minutes I managed to snag a seat next to you and you kindly gave me an earphone and we proceeded to laugh all the way home. At Sakuragicho we went to TGI’s Friday for fish ’n’ chips and some ribs; it was so-so. After which jumped on a bus to Motomachi, picked up the mama-chari and pedaled home for some imaginary play with the horses. You seemed pretty tired, but hungry enough, so after some lychees and a peanut butter muffin it was time for two stories from Paul Jenning’s Unbelievable.
This morning I was going to run in the Yokohama 10km road race, but instead we went down together and cheered the joggers on. Before we cheered, we watched a bit of Play School and Skyped Richie’s family where Nandee & Pa were waiting. After a bit of cheering we had a hot cocoa & a cinnamon roll at Starbucks, then raced off to David & Wakana’s for an early lunch. We had to get back to Ikebukuro by 2pm, so we left shortly after we arrived! In any case I had a glorious weekend, all thanx to you sweetheart! You’re a little ripper! Love & licks, Dad… XoXo.
- “Children need to do ordinary things with each parent, not just fun things on holidays, and weekends.” Laumann-Billings, L & Emery, R E, 2000, Distress Among Young Adults from Divorced Families
Friday, December 4th 2009
Good evening princess. I’m on the train headed to Numazu for the weekend. It was Pat’s birthday last weekend, but seeing as I was lucky enough to spend it with you I was unable to sing her Happy Birthday. I’m going to visit John & Kiri Thorpe tomorrow, and later Geoff and Fei Parmenter are going to meet us before dinner. I wish you were coming too, the kids would love to see you!
Today was our primary school Christmas concert. It was a magic afternoon that started with a group of mums coming into my classroom and decorating it for Chrissy. It was the most beautiful gesture and they did such a marvelous job.
After lunch we all went to the auditorium to take our seats. The music teachers had done an amazing job readying each grade with a song or two. All the grade 5s performed in the orchestra, there was a grade 4/5 choir, and a grade 2/3 choir. Mr. Morice was backstage moving props and organizing kids, so unfortunately I missed big chunks of the performance. But right at the end I got to witness all the students from G1 to G5 sing 2 songs together. The last song was titled: Go With a Song in Your Heart. Though it didn’t bring the tears to my eyes as last year’s finale had, I was a bit choked up seeing all the grade 1s in the front row knowing you were enrolled to be singing along side them. It’s moments like these that torment my heart.
At the end Ms. Kwan, our principal, made a speech and mentioned the Rice Drive that the Student Council are organizing. This year I’ve said to the kids if they raise more than 1000kg for the poor of Yokohama they can shave my hair off. It’s funny, ‘cause I thought the kids would go ballistic trying to reach the total (and most are keen to reach the ton), but there’s a group of girls and boys in my class who don’t want to see me bald, so they’re not going to bring any rice. Isn’t that nice, they’re really looking out for me, not wanting me to look too daggy this winter, nor have cold ears every day! I wonder how you’ll react if they do reach 1000kg and they shave Dad’s hair off??? I’ll love you even more… XoXo…
- If you were in Grade 1 at Saint, I’d want you to be buddies with Irish Fionne, American Ashley, Japanese Areno, Milla, Michelle… they’re awesome kids
- I think Nandee has depression because of what your Mum is doing…
Sunday, December 6th 2009
G’day buddy. It seems strange saying g’day as I’ve just said goodbye to you at Tokorozawa Station. I’m not holding back the tears today, which is good ‘cause I’m on the train headed for Shibuya.
I picked you up at 11am and you took me directly to Chocolate Cosmos. We met a lovely lady, a friend of Noribaba. She said you looked so happy to be in your Dad’s presence… you made me so proud. We had a little play with her dog, Puff. She could do lots and lots of tricks. We were both impressed.
You were pretty keen on eating at McDonald’s, mainly because you were under the impression you’d receive a present with your order of fries and tiny pancakes, but when no present arrived your face dropped. I tried not to laugh, and I did stir you up a bit, but you recovered pretty quickly.
We jumped in a taxi and chatted to the friendly driver before he dropped us off at a bowling centre. We grabbed our shoes, had the gutters put up and proceeded to go toe to toe. You were damn good! We played 2 games and you scored in the nineties twice, even scoring a STRIKE in each game! I’m too embarrassed to tell you what I scored (hopefully, you’ve forgotten what a terrible bowler Dad is!), but it was only marginally better than you, and I too benefited from the gutters.
Then we walked back to the station and had some tempura-don and met your Mum at 2pm. Right now, you’re probably off to Miu’s house for a play. I’m so glad you’ve a friendship group nearby. It’s comforting to know you’re happy socially.
Yesterday it was so lovely to see everyone again. They all asked about you, especially Grace (who has grown so tall & has lost quite a bit of baby fat), Sophie & Helen. Grace gave me loads of hugs and I sensed she wanted to ask why you too hadn’t come to visit. When Sophie & Helen arrived at Pat’s, Helen was first to barge through the door and before she had even taken her shoes off she was asking me: Where’s Ophi???
Oh, I almost forgot. I told you about the possibility of Dad being virtually bald next time I see you on Christmas Eve… you were a bit shocked and not totally impressed… I hope it grows back!!! But I guess the good news is that I don’t think the kids are going to reach their target of 1000kg, so your Dad’s hair should be safe.
Oh, and better news, Mum has said we can spend Christmas together!!! YIPEE! Not the 4 nights as promised in the contract, but 3 nights is better than a kick in the bum! XoXo…
- A book is like a garden carried in the pocket (Chinese proverb)
Sunday, December 13th 2009
Sometimes I sit and contemplate how A & I got to have this strange distance between us. We used to share so many secrets, and I for one, at one point in time, was very much in love with her… at least in the beginning. In fact, I was so sure she was the right woman for me that within 2 weeks of our first kiss, I visited her at a café she once had a part time job at. I presented her with flowers and asked her to sign her name over the seal of a sealed envelope. Within the envelope unbeknown to A…a was a proposal of marriage. It’s true, ask Mum. Years later, I asked her to open the envelope. She only vaguely remembered, but most importantly, she said YES. Pretty romantic hey?
Perhaps I was in love with an idea of what I thought A…a was like. She seemed so fresh and bold, argumentative yet caring, beautiful yet daggy. It’s true, your Mum didn’t have much fashion sense when we first met. In fact, she didn’t care for clothes at all, didn’t give a toss what she looked like, and rarely wore make-up. Now when I see her, I’m blown away by the change. She doesn’t seem to be the woman I knew. I recall buying her two pairs of Benneton jeans, because her other ones were, well, daggy. I bought her a white pair and a black pair, and within weeks the white pair were too dirty and stained to wear out, but she didn’t care; and I liked that about her.
We had our differences in the years to come. She hurt me a great deal, and I’m sure I hurt her too. But I know I am a better person for having known your Mother; mainly because of what she’s putting me through now. With the hardship comes determination and spirit, and a kind of resilience is forged. I sincerely believe that. I can’t blame her for loving you, and wanting to live with you… I know she loves you unconditionally… me too. I just don’t understand her denying you your Dad… it’s senseless and cruel from any perspective… surely she’s wrestling with her conscience…
- Do girls really like pink, and boys blue?
- Is it true McDonald’s beat Starbucks in a coffee tasting competition? Yes!
Monday, December 28th 2009
Merry Chrissy Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum! We’ve just spent a very memorable 3 nights together over Xmas. I picked you up in Tokorozawa at 5pm on Christmas Eve. We took the train back to Motomachi, then cycled to see the Xmas lights blazing in apartment #303. Damian Panozza (my high school friend who accompanied me to Niseko, Hokkaido for 5 days of powder snow boarding) was waiting and Jennifer (St. Maur librarian) joined us for a seafood nabe pot. It was delicious! We cooked of course… you’re a grand help in the kitchen! We toasted with sparkling wine, and David Barrett (my teaching partner) had given you a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling. So you joined in with a champagne flute of your own. Then, you, you smarty-pantz whipped up not one, but 3 dessert sauces to go with the simmered pears and ice cream. I was seriously impressed, so too was Jen, who fancies herself as a bit of a master-chef. You made a strawberry sauce, a pear sauce, and finally a kiwi sauce. Next you very professionally dribbled your masterpieces delicately over 4 white square plates. The result looked amazing and everyone tucked in devouring the delicacy.
After dinner we played with the duplo lego and then I managed to get a very excited 7 year old into bed for a few pages of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol.
6.50am Chrissy morning you were awake and ready to check if Santa had tucked into the cookies and milk we’d left out. Rudolph and co., had also been famished and had almost finished their plate of greens such as spinach and broccoli.
So we moved Damian aside (who was still trying to wake up) and started on the many prezzies. From Sean & Cate you received a book and a groovy make-up kit (which was on your person for the next 3 days). From Rich & Rach some more books, and from Nandee & Pa a cool tiny backpack with matching drink bottle. From Dad & Santa you received a pink i-Pod with your favorite tunes, a few stories from Dad and some crackers from Kym Lardner. There was also a book about a snoring Dad, a game of Genga, a Disney Princess puzzle and… more, lots more!
After phoning/Skyping family and Brenda & Allen, we rode the bikes into Aka Rengakan to try our luck at ice skating. Unfortunately it wasn’t scheduled to open until 1pm, so given a few options, you once again chose a tour of the big old boat. You love that Nippon Hikawamaru! We had a quick lunch in Jonathon’s, and then we made our way to Geoff & Fei’s in Numazu. It was so great for you to see them, as you hadn’t seen them for over a year. So it was PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!!!
At 6.30pm Naoko & Masaya arrived with their 2 girls, Seira & (I forget). The adults ate their turkey and trimmings in the kitchen, while you 5 gals all aged between 5 & 7 had your own party in the tatami room. After dinner Dad very nearly lost his voice pretending to be a fearsome giant shouting, “Phi-fai-fo-fum” again and again. I was met with squeals of laughter and joy. I think I had almost as much fun as you gals… maybe more! Oh, it was just so great to be with you!!! You were just gorgeous, snuggling into me, and calling your hugs snoogles, probably as a result of listening to the Paul Jennings’s story Snookle that I recorded on your i-Pod. By 9pm Helen and Seira had crashed and you 3 older party animals began watching a Disney cartoon version of the Christmas Carol. By 10pm you were snuggled in beside Helen and none of you woke until just before 8am! The other 2 gals had slept over too, so we all enjoyed breakfast together. Then it was Dad’s turn to play giant again. After which I took you all to the park across the river. We pretended to camp and played a few games of chasey before Sophie ran into a tree and we had to take her back for repairs. She was okay; she’s a tough little trooper.
Before lunch we hit the stage in Geoff’s nearby park with Dad on vocals and you gals on stage. Then we had lunch; left over turkey in rolls… yum-yum!
Damian headed up to Tokyo and you and I said our farewells and headed for Scott & Rie’s house in nearby Odawara. You were reluctant to leave and I was more than a little emotional after seeing you so quickly rekindle your friendship with Sophie & Helen, but by the time we arrived at Scott’s you slipped into playing with Aiden & Leila like it was just last week you’d seen them (it had been some 20 months since you’d seen them last). After a short play in Leila’s room, the 3 of you sat down to watch “UP” on Scott’s giant plasma screen. We paused for a fun dinner of steak, salad and lasagna then you watched the rest of the movie. After dinner, all of us except Rie had a play on their latest Xmas gift, a Wii. You were tickled pink as you were the champion on the ski jump and Dad was disqualified both times.
In the morning Scott made a fry up breaky of eggs & ham which we all tucked into and then you and Leila had a long bath… chat, chat, chat. Then we took their dog, Jackie for a walk before heading back to Odawara to board the Romance Car, Hakone #20 for Shinjuku. We bought a bento each and settled down for a relaxing chat & lunch. We met Azusa at 4pm in Ikebukuro, and my memorable Xmas with my charming daughter, with loads of snoogles was over.