On Sunday night I woke up in the middle of the night with a bad dream that I couldn’t shake. In it, Annie had taken a step and we discovered that she was standing on a landmine (we had just watched a war story the night before…). I was standing about ten feet away with a growing crowd, and everyone kept telling me I couldn’t get near her. I kept yelling, “stay still! don’t move..” and hoping someone would come soon to rescue her. Later in the day, I realized why I had probably had that dream…
After yochien (preschool), Annie came running over, hugged me, and told me the same thing she always tells me first upon greeting me: “Mommy! I didn’t cry today!” On the way into yochien on the bike, we always pray for children who might be sad and who might cry when they leave their mom. Owen and Annie try and comfort them.
Even though she didn’t cry, Annie’s teacher came to talk to me on the playground. She said that again, like on Friday,(she had told me this on Friday as well) Annie would excuse herself frequently to go to the bathroom, but then – not come out. After a while, her teacher would go looking for her and try and get her to return. With her teacher there, I hugged Annie and asked her why she is hiding in the bathroom. Her answer nearly broke my heart: “Because I can’t understand. I hide in the bathroom because I feel sad.”
I translated this for her teacher, who told Annie it’s ok that she doesn’t understand everything yet, and she doesn’t have to worry. She hugged Annie, and kept trying to reassure her that it’s ok. She said that Annie talks a lot in English and is quite verbal — in English. I can picture her trying so hard to win friends and to be included and using what she does so well in her normal environment — talking! But it’s not working…
Tonight Eric and I tried at different times to encourage her, and to remind her of the Japanese words that she has learned. She seems to be fairly adept at language-learning, but we all know that language learning is a process. I told her that I still feel sad sometimes when I go to a long meeting all in Japanese and don’t understand a lot of it… that I want to hide in the bathroom too. But if I did, it wouldn’t help me to keep learning Japanese.
Would you pray for Annie and Owen? We’re really proud of them for walking everyday into an environment that is completely Japanese. It will get easier, but these first few days for Annie are probably going to continue to be a challenge. And pray for her teacher, Aiko Sensei. We want to love and encourage both of their teachers as well.
Thanks for your love and encouragement for us. Even just reading the two blog entries below helps a lot. We’re glad that we’re not in this alone!