A couple weekends ago, when I went to Tokyo to launch Call Me Okaasan, a woman asked me how old my children were. When I told her (they turned ten a few days ago), she smiled knowingly and said, “Ahh. You haven’t gotten to the hard part yet.” I think she meant that the older my disabled daughter gets, the more I will see the imperfections in the system meant to support her. Already, we are getting subtle pressure to transfer our gregarious, active daughter to the School for the Handicapped, where hardly anyone uses sign language, because it has an elevator and Lilia is becoming hard to carry.
Meanwhile, my son came home from baseball practice in tears because a kid on his team called him a “gaijin”. At school, his future seems to be in jeopardy because almost every day he forgets one of the ten or so things that he’s supposed to remember to bring to school. Also, his math scores aren’t so great. The teacher suggested that he quit baseball, as if it’s some frivolity interfering with his grasp of long division. There are many reasons to continue however, not least because he likes it, and it’s his one chance to run around and play outside. My son is at school from 8AM to 4:10PM but he isn’t allowed to go out for recess because he has to retake some test every day until he gets it right.
Is this the hard part?