Yesterday, I had Ailin take the day off from daycare so we could have a Mama/daughter day together.
First, we stopped by my workplace, so I could show her off - she hadn't made an appearance there for a while and some of the teachers wanted to see her. I also had to drop off some stuff for Jeff. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and totally fell in love with Jeff, who is a father of three himself so he is great with kids. She was giving him kisses on the cheek. So funny how quickly she warmed up to him even though she is quite shy with many other people.
Then, we met some Bilingual Kids Club friends at the Qiball in downtown Chiba to play for a few hours and have lunch. Here is where I got harrassed by the mother of a 3 year old boy who (apparently) maliciously threw a ball at me.
First of all, yes, he did direct his aim at my head, but I deflected the ball just in time. It was a very soft ball though so even if it had hit me, it would not have hurt. It did surprise me though, and of course his mom made a big deal out of it. Ailin was playing in the ball pit, completely oblivious, but I wanted to remove ourselves from the area, so I started talking to her about going to the craft area to play with the playdough. She was into that, and just as we were about to leave, the woman dragged her son over by us and tried forcing him to apologize. At the same time, my friend, who had witnessed the whole thing, rushed over to see if I was okay.
Of course, the kid was having a tantrum by now and refused to apologize. Now, who knows what was going through his mind? Why he threw the ball at me? I had not seen him or noticed him previous to that, so we had had no interaction with each other as far as I remember. The point is that a simple apology from his mom would have sufficed! But, no, she had to make a "lesson" out of the whole thing.
Since, he was still having a tantrum and refusing to apologize, I got up and walked away with my friend and Ailin. We settled ourselves down to some nice play-doughing way on the other side of the room. I was secretly hoping to never have to see that mom and her son again, and when I look around, it seemed they were gone.
Now, remember, all of this is taking place in Japanese, in the Japanese culture, in a situation that is kind of unfamiliar to me. I normally have no need to take my child to a public place to play where other children are present. That's what she does in daycare all day, so her teachers are helping them negotiate the social situations. In any case, this particular situation did not involve my daughter...thank god.
Suddenly, this mother and her son appeared at my side. His tantrum seemingly over, she was going to make him apologize to me in a loud, clear voice come hell or high water. I wasn't quite sure how to react, and to be honest, just wanted to enjoy the time with Ailin. (She was waiting for me to make a playdough dog for her.) My mom friend had brought her daughter over as well, so she was listening to the kid's feeble attempts at apology. Feeble or not...once was enough for me. But, this mom kept forcing him to repeat "Gomen nasai" over and over again until he got it "right." He never did get it right, according to her, and finally, I said to my mom friend "Look, I don't know what to say to them. I just want them to go away. How am I supposed to react so they will leave me alone?"
Mom friend turned to the boy and in her very "teacherly" voice said, "If you don't want to apologize, it's okay. But, I am sure you now understand that it's wrong to throw things at people. As long as you understand that, it's good. Now, we just want to enjoy playing with our kids here, so please go off and play somewhere." Then, she turned to the mother and said, "Your son is 5 years old, right? He seems too big to be playing in here." Well, the mother insisted that her son was only three (a big three.)
Even after that exchange, the apologies continued, until I finally turned to her and said, "Okay, please go and play. It's okay." It was one of those weird situations where I didn't know what to say...kind of shocked into silence. She apologized to me once again and then went away.
(Okay, why involve me in such a lesson for her son? In my opinion, she should have just come over to me and apologized. Then, taken her son off somewhere and told him off. Why did she have to harrass me like that and for so long?)
After that, I realized that I know nothing about negotiating social situations with Japanese people, especially involving my kids. A little later that day, Ailin wanted to play with a stroller. It was not being used at the moment, so she put a doll in it and started to wheel it around. Just then, a bigger boy rushed over, threw the doll out of the stroller and placed a bowl of fake food on the seat of the stroller. He grabbed the stroller away from Ailin, which of course lead to some protesting on her part. Of course, his mom rushes over and starts talking about "Junban" or taking turns and yada yada yada. I subtly unwrapped Ailin's hands from the stroller and walked away with her talking about finding more dolls to play with.
A similar thing happened two more times with the stroller, and I was just not up to dealing with these kids and their moms. I needed to leave.
So, a bit later, we left and went to Grandma Yuki's house for a short visit. We still hadn't given her a Mother's Day gift, so we presented that to her, and then asked her to babysit (again!) this weekend. Now that I can only do half the things a non-pregnant woman could achieve, I have a to-do list for him to help me out with this weekend. Also, we have some things to discuss about what's going to happen while I am in the hospital. Should Max go to the pet hotel? Should Ailin go and stay at Grandma's? Hopefully, we can get that stuff done (and talked about) this weekend.