Yesterday was an open classroom at the kids’ school, so both Eric and I had a chance to go and watch our kids and meet different parents (as well as sit through a long and boring PTA meeting!). It was really encouraging, both in terms of how our kids seem to be adjusting and making friends, and the openness of the moms that I talked to. I am on the brink of making friends with several of them. Annie had her first play date earlier this week, and I had a chance to meet that friend’s mom and several others who live in the same area.
In Owen’s class, all the kids had to go up in front of the class and read part of a story aloud with two other members. I was nervous for Owen – reading in Japanese is not easy. But he surprised me with the degree of fluency in his reading! his teacher later asked me if I was impressed and commented on how well he did.
I think that we had sixty or seventy people crammed into the Be One house tonight. It was insane, and lots of fun. A team of nine from Osaka drove through the night last night (and they are leaving tomorrow morning) to work up here for the weekend. They spent the day cleaning out a tsunami-hit apartment, and cleaning out a shed that had been filled with tsunami water but wasn’t opened for a year, until today. Oh, the smells
Most Saturday nights we do a community meal, inviting friends from the community to come in and eat together. Tonight, several members of the Osaka team prepared and cooked the meal- it was great! In addition, two men came who own a Japanese noodle factory in Ishinomaki… back in the early days right after the tsunami Be One volunteers were taking bottled water and food around, and they were able to get some needed supplies for their family. Tonight, they brought a bunch of their yakisoba noodles, and then ran out to the store and bought meat and veggies and made it for us all. It was great! I guess that Ishinomaki style in part involves serving cooked eggs on the top.
There was M., a sixth grade girl who I sat with for awhile. I was so happy to meet her because she is going to the same school as Owen and Annie, just a few grades older. I asked if her mom had come to the open classroom yesterday, and she said no, because her baby brother had just been born two days before (on Olivia’s birthday!). No way – that is such cool news! I was excited for her. I asked if she has other siblings, and then she shared that her four-year old brother had been killed in the tsunami. I felt the breath go out of me. I think she was glad that I knew, but I realized that asking about family members in this town is not a “safe” question.
She had come to the party with her aunt, who worked at a volunteer center and lives in a nearby apartment. I spent a lot of time tonight with these two, and look forward to building a friendship with her family. Although she said that they have enough clothes for her special little brother, they don’t have a lot of supplies like a car seat, baby stroller, etc. We are going to see how we can help. Their home was destroyed, so they are living in an apartment in the downtown area. Her aunt makes these amazing lunches for kids, in which the different foods make characters. I’ve asked her to teach me some of her tricks. Looking forward to building on all of these new friendships.