Blog Review of The Beautiful One…

Thanks to Gillian Marchenko for her lovely review of my new book. You can read it here.

And while you’re there, dip into some of her posts on her multicultural family, and parenting a child with special needs.

Wheelchair Golf

Last fall, a municipal putting course opened nearby our house. According to the newspaper, construction costs were around 3 million dollars. At any given time, there might be four or five groups playing – hardly enough to support/justify the expense, I would think. Anyway, inspired by Ryo Ishikawa’s amazing/record-breaking score of 58 the other day (12 birdies!), we decided to try out the course.

Yesterday, it being a public holiday and sunny, too, there were lots of people – grandpas with kids, families with babies in strollers, couples on dates. I saw quite a few women in skirts and ruffles. At least two wore spiky heels.

We brought Lilia onto the course in her wheelchair. And here I should tell you that it’s not a professional-type putting course for serious golfers. The balls are colored, and the putters are short with big fat balls on the end – not standard equipment. It’ s more of a place for family recreation and exercise for the elderly.

Lilia did pretty well. It took her quite a few whacks to get the ball into the hole, but she could do it. We were all having a good time, and I was thinking, wow, this is something fun that we can do from time to time. But then, around the 17th hole, one of the retired gentlemen who works at the course came running over, smile on his face, to ask us not to bring the wheelchair on the green. It should be noted that we weren’t leaving any tracks. I’ll bet those spiky heels did more damage.

We finished the course with a bittersweet feeling. The public putt course is not for everyone, after all.

Half or Double?

In today’s edition of The Japan Times, Kristy Kosaka writes about the  half/double dilemma

My husband and I had a little chat about it this morning at breakfast.  “What do you think is the best term for children like ours?” I asked him.  “Half, bi, or double?”

Hafu, the Japanese rendition of “half”, is the most common way to describe children with one Japanese parent and one foreign parent.  To me, it brings to mind that old Cher song, “Half-breed.”  (“Half-breed, how I learned to hate that word,” etc.).  My husband, however, has memories of a Japanese musical group from the 70s called Golden Half.  Apparently, they were biracial and way cool.

“What about bi?” I asked him.  (Actually, this sounds like “bisexual to me,” but I tend to refer to our children as “bicultural.”

“That makes me think about buying something,” he said.

Okay, whatever.  “How about ‘double’?”  This is a more recent term, one, I believe, that was coined, or at least encouraged by, filmmaker Reggie Life.

For my husband, that would be two fingers of whiskey.

So what do you call your kids?

Punk Babysitters

In one or two movies I’ve seen recently, there were punk babysitters with pierced noses, multiply-pierced ears, dyed hair, and in at least one case, a surly attitude.  These babysitters appeared for comic effect, and I’ve always believed that no mother would seriously hire someone looking like that to take care of their kids.  I guess that shows my Midwestern, middle-aged conservatism.

This weekend, I went to Tokyo for Writer’s Day, an event put on by the Tokyo Branch of SCBWI.  It was world class.  Three international picture book writers (actually one, Tanya Batt, bills herself as more of a storyteller) gave stellar presenations.  Irene Smalls had us acting out our characters, and Laura Rennert, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, had us all dreaming of half a million dollar deals (the kind that she puts together), but she also gave us some very practical advice.  (And she told us fun stuff about her husband Barry Eisler.)

I had a great time, and my mind was at ease because I knew that my kids were safe at my sister-in-law’s.  I trust her, and the kids love her.  She had a few errands, so she told me in advance that one of my niece’s friends would be helping with the babysitting.  I’ve never met this girl, but my kids have, and they like her.  And if my sister-in-law says she’d dependable, then I believe her.

Last night, as I was tucking Lilia into bed, I asked if she’d finished her homework.

“Yes,” she signed.  “B. [the friend] helped me.”

“Wonderful!” I said, liking B. very much at that moment.

Then Lilia pointed to her tongue and made the sign for “ouch.”   A stud??

“Does B. have a pierced tongue?” I asked Yoshi.

“Yes,” he said, “and multiple piercings in her ears.”

This morning it occurred to me to ask Jio about her hair color.

“It’s yellow,” Jio said.  (B. is a high school drop-out.)

“Oh!”

I’ve totally revised my ideas about pierced and dyed babysitters.   Anyone who can get Lilia to do the weekend’s  homework in one day is all right in my book.  Punk babysitters rule!

Speed Racer

The other day we were all in the car, cruising down the narrow back roads of rural Japan.  The speed limit where we were was 40 km/hour, but Yoshi was going 50 km/hour.  “Daddy is breaking the law,” my son piped up from the back seat.  I didn’t even know that he knew that phrase in English.