My twins are nearing the final days of third grade. Whenever I tell someone Japanese that they will be entering fourth grade in April, I get a weird, teeth-sucking response. “Ahh, fourth grade,” people say. “That’s when school becomes difficult.” According to my husband, who is a Japanese public high school teacher, fourth grade is when our children’s futures will be decided. It’s the year when kids are irrevocably sorted into Those Who Will Attend Good Colleges and Those Who Will Do Manual Labor. Not that there’s anything wrong with manual labor. When I say things like “at his/her own pace” or “late bloomer,” I am treated like an idiot.
But this is what I think: There is huge world beyond Japan. The possibilities are endless.