What’s worse, do you think? To be ahead the whole game and then lose 11-10 at the bottom of the 10th inning (like Yoshi’s team two years ago), or to be behind so far early on that you know by the sixth inning that the game is forever out of reach?
Things didn’t go well today. Kita High School’s players were tired after yesterday’s game, it was hot (over 30 degrees centigrade), they were nervous. They made lots of mistakes while Tokushima Shogyo’s team made very few. Tokusho was cool, poised. They showed a sense of entitlement. Their school makes it to Koshien all the time. The Kita Ko players didn’t play as if they thought they deserved to be there, although they did.
I propose a new logo for their next towel. Instead of “Reach for the Dream,” which implies a goal just out of one’s grasp, I think they should change it to “Believe in the Dream.” Clearly, Yoshi is a great coach, to have built this team from literally nothing and brought it to the finals two of the past three years, and his players have shown in past games that they are very talented.
The only good thing about the loss is that I won’t have to feel guilty about our trip to the States. It would have been a dilemma if I had to choose between watching my husband’s team at Koshien and visiting my family.
Today’s game was at 10AM. I watched most of it, up till Yoshi’s team fell behind by one run in the seventh inning with only one out, and then it was time to take Lilia to therapy (speech, physical, occupational). It takes about an hour to get to the therapy center from our house, so I figured it was over by the time we got there. One of the therapists checked the results on her cell phone and told me that Tokushima Kita High School had won with a score of 8-5. Hooray, hooray! The final game is tomorrow. Let’s reach for the dream everyone!
As a postscript to “American Boy”…
Today, after therapy, I told the doctor on call that we wouldn’t be around for awhile because I’m going back to America. I said, “Amerika ni kaeru.” Jio, who went along today, was very distressed by my words. I guess to him it sounded like I would be returning to my country for good. Jio doesn’t “go back” to America. He just goes. He doesn’t even want to live there, although he enjoys occasional visits. He said, “Don’t say ‘kaeru.’ Say ‘Amerika ni ikimasu.’” Okay, so next week we’re going to the United States.
So this afternoon I left the twins alone in the living room for a few minutes and then my mother-in-law called up to me. I went downstairs to see what was up and found Lilia with a hammer and nails, about to put up a picture that she had just colored! It was good that my mother-in-law had chosen that moment to pop in. Otherwise we’d have a hole in our less-than-a-year-old wallpaper.
Last week, I came upstairs for maybe five minutes. I heard the sliding glass door open downstairs, so I knew Lilia had gone out on the deck. I ran down to find her outside, completely naked, and covered with fingerpaint!!! The deck was slimed with fingerpaint as well – huge mess. She looked up at me and signed that she wanted a piece of paper!!
Yesterday was my son’s last day of school. Apparently they had a big cleaning session and a ceremony. The teachers also passed out report cards and homework. Jio brought home a little book about himself that he made in English class. On one page, he had to write where he was from. He wrote “I am from America.” Well, he was born in Japan and has never actually lived in the United States, so this was very surprising to me. The last time we were in South Carolina, he identified heavily as Japanese. I’m glad he’s embracing his American side, but I hope it doesn’t mean he’s feeling alienated. Tonight he told me that some second grade girl at school called him “Gaikoku-kun,” which means “Mr. Foreigner.” We had a long talk and I hope I said the right things. He doesn’t often bring up stuff like that, and I think it’s extremely important to keep the channels of communication open.
Yoshi was kind of worried about yesterday’s pitcher, a talented, but immature second year student. I knew everything would be okay, though, when I saw that the other coach was using the same pitcher as the day before. The kid was obviously tired. He pitched well on Sunday, in the rain no less, but he gave up five runs in the first three innings. Yoshi’s team, Tokushima Kita High School, wound up winning 10-3. The game was called in the 7th inning due to the slaughter rule.
I didn’t get to watch all of today’s game because I had to go give my third year college students their final exam. (There were a lot of students who spelled “tangerine” correctly today, so I was very happy.) The score was 4-3 when I left the house. When I got to my classroom, one of my students, a baseball player, checked on his computer and found that the score was 8-7 in favor of Kita High School in the 8th inning. He checked again after he finished his exam and found that they had won.
On to the semifinals!
Which is worse, I wonder – playing baseball under the hot sun when it’s 80-90 degrees out, or playing in the pouring rain? Today was Yoshi’s team’s second tournament game. It started raining in the second or third inning, but apparently once you get started you can’t quit. There were a couple of rain delays, but the ground was getting muddier and muddier, and I suppose those players were getting soppier and soppier. When the score was tied in the fifth inning, the officials finally gave it up. The Japanese term for this is “No Game.” Those four hours in the rain were for naught. They have to play the whole thing again, from the first inning, tomorrow.
On a side note, I had something to do with the slogan printed on the official Kita High School towels. The parents or players or whoever had decided to jettison the previous slogan I came up with – “Reach for the Dream” (ripped off from the Olympic theme song a few years back)and replace it with “Let Our Dream Come True.”
“No way,” I said. “Too passive. This is a baseball team!” I revised it to “Let’s Make Our Dream Come True.” Still sappy and cliched, I know, but they went with it.
In case you don’t know what “the dream” is, I’ll tell you. Every high school baseball player in Japan dreams of getting to the Koshien stadium in Osaka for the national tournament. Nothing else really matters.
I know you’re not supposed to bribe your children, or at least that’s what the so-called experts say these days, but how else do you expect me to get Lilia to do her homework? Yesterday I told her I’d take her to the video store if she’d do all of her homework in the morning and fold the laundry. She balked at first, shaking her head and tossing the prints, but she finally buckled down and did most of it. She wanted to leave half of the math for tomorrow. Ha! I showed her all the homework she had yet to do. This morning I told her that she couldn’t go into the wading pool until she’d done her math. She and Jio both are struggling with basic arithmetic, which puzzles me, because I read somewhere that learning a second language early makes math easier.
I let Jio and Lilia watch as much TV as they wanted today so that I could read The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo by Peter Orner, about a volunteer from Cincinnati who goes to teach at an isolated school in Namibia and falls in love with a fallen (in the moral sense) former soldier. So there is the African setting, which interests me, and the teaching aspect, which reminds me of myself, getting off the plane in Tokyo at the age of 22 with no experience to speak of. But beyond that, this book is very funny and the characters are completely real.
Today was the first day of Lilia’s summer vacation. Yesterday at school, her teacher explained her homework to me. She has to do about two Japanese prints per day (hiragana writing practice and vocabulary), and two math prints. She also has to write nine pages of her diary, keep track of the books she reads, water her morning glory every day, help fold the laundry every day, and make a piggybank. Oh, and we had to decide what time Lilia would wake up and go to bed during summer vacation.
I can’t wait to see what Jio’s homework is.
Jio’s entire school was supposed to go to YMCA overnight camp today. Proscrastinator that I am, I didn’t start preparing the required stuff until yesterday after school. He needed a pair of shoes for playing in/near the water, which he didn’t have, so after dinner I packed the twins in the car and went to the mall. I was exhausted, by the way, ’cause I only got about 6 hours’ sleep the night before and I’d spent the day in the city. So we bought the shoes, came home, and then I realized we didn’t have a decent marker for writing Jio’s name on everything. Lilia fell asleep doing homework. Everything was late, everyone was tired. Yoshi volunteered to go the store and buy a marker. I think he’d finished writing Jio’s name on everything by the time the phone rang at 10PM. It was Jio’s teacher saying that camp had been cancelled due to heavy rain forecast for today.
Today I administered my first ever final exam. I never told my college students that they were my first ever college students and that I was basically making it up as I went along, and they don’t know that today’s test was my first. Until now, my teaching in this country has been more of a diversion from the usual curriculm. Now that I can decide grades, I feel very empowered.
Aside from all that, I’m hoping that they learned a little bit. They obviously didn’t study for the test. I told them two weeks ago that I was going to give them a dictation and I even told them what the dictation would be, but no one got it right.
After my classes, I went to pick up Jio. I could tell, as soon as I got out of the car, that the high school baseball team had lost its second game in the summer tournament. There were a bunch of parents standing around, very still and quiet. This school is a baseball powerhouse. They usually make it to the final rounds. It’s a bit of a relief to have them out of the way.