I went out to lunch with a friend from the YMCA Japanese language course I used to attend. He is a single guy who has lived in Japan longer than me and he is great with the kids. Today he said to me, "whenever I see your kids, it makes me want to have children of my own." Wow. After getting past all the jokey "you can have them" replies or the deflecting "you just caught them on a good day" remarks, really, I just want to say "thank you." That is the best compliment. As someone living away from her family, it is not often that I receive feedback on my child rearing. Hearing that was a big confidence booster. Of course, he did only spend two hours with us. We will have to wait and see what my mom and aunt have to say after they stay with us for three weeks.
Today as Mina and I were preparing for an afternoon downtown, I gave her a clean towel to put into her purse. She said to me, "if there is smoke, I will use it to cover my face!" "Good thinking," I replied, knowing that this was something she had learned at her preschool, where all students must have a hand towel on them at all times and thinking that she was about one thousand times more likely to use the towel to dry her hands after washing since paper towels are hard to come by in Japanese restrooms. However, we decided to take the train line with the station a little farther from our house and as we walked past some fields, a farmer just happened to be burning something near the path. "Look, Mina! Smoke!" She happily got out her towel and covered her satisfied smile. Who needs scouts when your children are part of the Japanese school system?