For some reason I have it in my head that Japan is big on family values, but loyalty to the group ( office co-workers, teammates, etc.) seems to trump family obligations. To wit, yesterday was my daughter’s sports festival. This is generally a family affair, and one of the few times when you actually see fathers at the deaf school. This year we were thinking that Lilia’s father might actually get to see her dashing toward the finish line in her wheelchair, but our son had a baseball game on the same day. Also, my husband was asked to be an umpire for the game. Of course I wanted us all be to be together at the sports festival, but I understood that my son wanted to play in this game, and that the team expected him to be there. (He already missed one game because of YMCA Nature camp, which I’d signed him up for long in advance.) So we split up. I went with Lilia to her sports festival, and my husband went with our son to his baseball game. I figured I’d be sitting there alone on the blue plastic tarp, but guess who showed up? My mother-in-law! I hadn’t told her about the event (I don’t even have her phone number and I don’t know where she lives), but I guess she heard from her daughter. It was nice to have her there. I find that since we are no longer living together, I can be extremely magnanimous: “Lilia, tell Obaachan ‘thank you’ for the huge bag of junk food that you would otherwise not be allowed to eat!” Lilia was pretty happy to see her beloved grandmother, as well.