The Things They Carry

“Wasuremono ga oi.” I’ve heard this from both of my children’s teachers over and over again for the past four years, speaking not only about my kids, but their classmates as well. “They forget to bring many things.” Although, supposedly, the children are supposed to prepare their stuff for school themselves, thus developing independence, there is no way that mine can remember everything without my reminding them, and I can’t remember everything because, well, I’m over forty.

Here’s what my daughter was supposed to remember to bring one day this week:


handkerchief (for drying her hands after she washes them)


hearing aid

five regular pencils, sharpened

red/blue pencil


straight ruler

rounded ruler (what is that called?)

science textbook

Japanese textbook and notebook

social studies textbook

finished homework (three pages)

renrakucho (notebook for writing down the day’s schedule, etc.)

notebook for parent/teacher communiques

zippered bag for memos, etc.

100 grams of salt

30cm x30 cm piece of aluminum foil

Here’s what she forgot:  the aluminum foil, which I prepared for her, but which she uncharacteristically forgot to put in her bag.


Here’s what my son was supposed to remember to bring to school today:

various textbooks and notebooks, pencils, eraser, ruler, etc. as above

school T-shirt

school shorts




bathing suit

bathing cap



pool card

Yesterday he forgot his hat.

The teachers always say that forgetting things now bodes ill for the future.  I’m not sure what will happen if they don’t remember everything every day, but I do know many Japanese adults who have forgotten things. I’m not convinced that training them not to forget twenty things a day actually insures that they will not forget things as an adult.

Tonight there is a fourth grade PTA meeting. I’m willing to bet money that the teacher will say, “Wasuremono ga oi.”


5 thoughts on “The Things They Carry

  1. Ha! Once my daughter’s report card was marked for “wasuremono ga oi.” Penciled in the box was the number “8.” So I figured she’d forgotten something 8 times. I figured they had to have about 40 things a day on hand in class, and multiplying that by the number of days in the semester I got a number in the thousands. I figured 8 wasuremono was pretty good. Eventually, she just kept everything in her backpack so that she never ever forgot anything. We were lucky it didn’t stunt her growth.

  2. This strikes me as funny. I get it that kids need to learn to take care of themselves, to bring what they need to school, etc. But, really, if the worst thing that happens in life is that we forget a hat, we’re doing pretty well.

  3. Uh…
    I’m lucky if the kids I teach in high school even remember to DO their homework, let along bring it to class. And in class, most don’t even bring a dictionary! Maybe I should start sending home “wasuremono ga oi” notes, or make the kids write them themselves in English as punishment…

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