June 30, 2010

Locked In: The Rainy Season

Little kids + rainy season = feeling like a rat in a cage

Around the second week of June the 2010 rainy season began across a large portion of Japan. The rainy season (called “tsuyu” here, rhymes with “screw you”) generally lasts from the start of June to the middle of July. In practical terms this means a constant high chance of cloudy and wet weather, along with muggy air. The type of rain ranges from surprise deluges of water, to regular downpours with gusty winds, to a slight, exasperating misty rain. If you go outside, umbrellas and raincoats are a must. Needless to say, more time than usual is spent indoors.    

Living with a rambunctious, energy-filled 3.5 year-old Terminator during rainy season is not easy. Curiously, little kids seem not to worry about the rain and beg, plead and then scream at you to take them outside to play…NOW! So I have been challenged to find things to do with Lady E. during these rainy days, for example:

- Blowing bubbles in the carport of our apartment complex (which infuriates the crotchety old folks in our building who are worried about their cars’ paint jobs)
- Hitting the toy stores downtown and sampling their wares for hours on end—without any semblance of guilt
- Watching Sesame Street or Anpanman videos: the kiddie Xanax for peaceful weekend mornings
- Frequenting the city’s free open play areas, also popular with other families. With so many other sprites rocketing around in a confined space, it’s like the Coliseum, with playful carnage punctuated with the inevitable crying of the vanquished wee ones.

Glass half-empty thinking: when it rains, we can’t opt for the park to tire ‘em out.
Glass half-full thinking: rain inspires creative thinking for better parenting.
But I can’t help sometimes feeling this way during the rainy season:

Hits like a Phillips head into my brain
It's gonna be too dark to sleep again
Cutting my teeth on bars and rusty chains
I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run


- from "Rusty Cage" by Soundgarden (lyrics by Chris Cornell)

We’ll be hitting the outdoor family pools soon! Yee-hah summer is here.

Photo sources: (top) the Lukaszewski Group/(bottom) sainews.com

June 18, 2010

Sleep is for Wimps

Do I have intermittent bloodshot eyes and a dazed expression these days from sleep deprivation? Yes. But that’s no different from my usual appearance. Sleep is for wimps.

Since the birth of ‘M’, a joyous and life-changing event, we have been adapting to our new even-numbered family. While busier than ever, the Rising Daughters Parental Team has been temporarily augmented by the presence of my mother-in-law. Thanks to her energy and cheerful help since early May, we’re alive!

Nevertheless, newborns require constant attention, viz. the need for milk and relentless diaper changes. Yep, we get worn out. But it’s a gleeful kind of fatigue. Our sleep debt is large and we are accruing a significant amount of interest, with no bailout on the horizon. Naomi is bearing the major brunt of the sleep loss and she seems to be in constant motion. My contribution is an early-morning shift with M…I wake up with the gravely voice of George C. Scott in my head, bullying me into action.
And paraphrasing another Gen. Patton quote:
"A (family) is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of bullshit."

Anyway, my view is that sleep is just a sign of not enough coffee. As her parents, we’re happy because everything is going well for M. However, the other youngster, the catalyst of this blog, Lady E., is having her own issues and coping in her own way—by driving us crazy. Here is the easiest way to visualize Elena’s reaction to the addition of M to our family:

We are trying to be patient, understanding, and empathetic toward  Lady E.’s angst which has surfaced since her sister’s birth. Crazy E. is at the point where she has developed a sense of herself and is expanding her physical boundaries. Suddenly, this other THING invades her exclusive space and ruins it all.

So, occasionally we have to deal with major behavioral issues such as:
mild jealousy
emotional distress
more tantrums
challenges to authority

The sisters’ relationship is already extreme…but there are signs of hope…